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SPECIAL REPORT: Solving Cold Cases Part I

Updated: Wednesday, February 26 2014, 11:20 PM CST
CORALVILLE, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28) -- For John Crutcher, the images of that day back in April of 1984 flash by like a slide show.

“Woke up, went downstairs, mom wasn't there, bought some bubble gum for school, got off school, and went swimming in the Des Moines River.”

All of this is typical in the routine of a 12 year old. For him, it was a world full of optimism and innocence, Full of love for his mother Sarah, his brother Justin (who he called Alfie), and Alfie's girlfriend Tina.

That changed when his stepfather picked him up from school and took him to his brother's home near Drakesville

"There were fire engines, cops," Crutcher recalls. "The trailer was burnt to the ground. And my brother's body was discovered behind an out building.”

His brother was beaten so bad, he was almost unrecognizable. From there the news got worse.

“Three days later, they found mom and Tina - and I got to watch my world totally disintegrate.”

All were brutally beaten to death, and their bodies were discovered in different locations, with no suspect or motive to be found.

“It went from me being a 12 year old kid to wondering what was going on. Who the boogeyman was.”

It started a downward spiral for Crutcher. He bounced from family member to family member for the next 5 years - the entire time growing angry and mistrusting while living in constant fear that the killer or killers would come after him.

“Those two guys that slowed down coming around the corner… is that them?” Crutcher says he would ask himself. “Or the old house that we happen to be living in creaked during a storm - is that a window breaking out?”

Compounding it all was the fact that the mom he loved so much was gone, and the brother he looked up to would never be seen again.

“I lost him 30 years ago and I think of him daily.”

The turnaround came last summer, when he and his wife we're watching an episode of the television show Unsolved Mysteries.

Watching so many unresolved cases, much like his own, raised Crutcher's ire.

“My wife sat there while I was cussing the television and looked at me and said 'You have a smart phone idiot. Use it!'”

He did use it - to make a call to the Iowa DCI. He left a message - and soon got the call.

“Mr. Crutcher this is a special agent with the Iowa DCI,” the person on the phone said. “I would like to talk to you about your mother and your brother….”
For Part 2 of the story, click the link REPORT: Solving Cold Cases Part I

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