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Homicide probe still active

BY MARLEEN LINARES | NOVEMBER 06, 2009 7:20 AM

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A month after a homicide occurred in an apartment building on the South Side of Iowa City, police have yet to press any charges.

And some of the area’s residents say they no longer feel safe in their homes knowing the person responsible for the killing is still at large.

“I’m scared because of what happened,” said Nancy Paxeial, who lives around 10 feet away from where police found 64-year-old John Versypt dead from a gunshot wound. “It happened so close, it could happen to any of us.”

Standing in her kitchen cooking dinner, the 25-year-old said she wasn’t home when the Oct. 9 incident occurred and heard nothing about it until police came to her door to interview her.

Police found Versypt’s body lying in the hallway of Broadway Condominiums, 1958 Broadway, along with a “No Smoking” sign, wallet, and silver gun.

Though Paxeial has lived in the building for around two years, she said she plans to move out after the lease ends in six months.

“I want to move,” she said. “I want better security.”

Lt. Jim Steffen, the Iowa City police investigation commander, said the department is still investigating the case closely, following up on leads, conducting interviews, and formulating timelines.

Steffen said they are getting a mixed response from the people in the community.

“As in most cases, some are very forthcoming while others are not,” he said.

Police have solved recent slayings in Iowa City much quicker, as in the Curtis Fry case, in which officers held the then 21-year-old in custody within a day of finding 75-year-old Patrick McEwen dead in his home.

But Iowa City police Sgt. Troy Kelsay said solving a killing that fast is rare.

“It’s only been a month,” Kelsay said. “Cases that get solved within days are an anomaly.”

Kelsay said he disagreed with the statement that investigators haven’t found any suspects in the Versypt case.

“A suspect is just that, a suspect,” he said. “Having suspects may fall short of prosecution.”

Police are continuing to investigate the homicide aggressively, Kelsay said. They do not close a case until a charge is filed or whoever should be charged dies, though they can eventually label it “inactive” once they’ve followed all possible leads.

“If cases take more time, they will be suspended and periodically reviewed,” he said.

Luis Chakala, 20, who also lives in the Broadway Condominiums, said he does not feel worrying will help.

“I just don’t see a point in being scared,” he said. “There’s nothing you can change.”


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