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Exactly 50 years after a teenage girl was found murdered in Iowa, police have said this week that they have successfully identified a former colleague of hers at a job she held at a diner as her killer.
Maureen Brubaker-Farley, 17, was reported missing when she didn’t show up at the Iowa diner where she worked in the fall of 1971, according to the Cedar Rapids Police Department. On Sept. 24, 1971, two teenage boys discovered the teen's body in the trunk of an abandoned junk car in a wooded ravine near a landfill. She was partially clothed, and though she wore no shoes, her feet were clean. Investigators believe she was killed elsewhere.
An autopsy revealed that Maureen was sexually assaulted and hit in the head, causing a skull fracture resulting in her death.
Over the years, despite many suspects, the case grew cold. But on September 24, authorities announced that DNA technology helped them finally identify the teenager's killer as George M. Smith. He died in 2013 at the age of 94.
“No matter how much time has passed, our officers are committed to seeking out justice for all victims of violent crime, as well as their families,” said Chief of Police Wayne Jerman. “I am extremely proud of the generations of Cedar Rapids officers that contributed to bringing this once-cold case to a resolution.”
In 2006, investigators submitted physical evidence taken from Maureen’s sexual assault examination, then processed the sample to create a complete male DNA profile, according to police. Though the specimen was uploaded into the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System, no matches were found. In 2017, investigators began collecting DNA from previous suspects.
Smith, however, did not have his DNA collected, since he died years ago. Authorities obtained a search warrant to collect DNA from a relative and in September, they learned of the matching results.
“On Sept. 24, 2021, exactly 50 years after Maureen Brubaker-Farley was located, the Cedar Rapids Police Department reviewed the results of that comparison,” police said. “It was determined that the unknown suspect DNA profile developed in this case was that of George M. Smith.”
Maureen’s mother, now 86, had suspected Smith over the years.
“I said, ‘I told you guys. I told you it was George Smith,’” Mary Brubaker told the Sioux City Journal, referring to the investigators who broke her the news. “They kind of knew it [back then], but they couldn’t prove it. We can rest, and we know he did it.”
Smith, who was in his 50s at the time of the murder, was named as a potential suspect. During the initial investigation, Smith was identified by multiple people as an acquaintance of Maureen’s, according to police. They two apparently knew one another from the diner where Maureen worked. According to reports cited by police, Smith went to them on more than one occasion in the month following the murder to "suspiciously” ask for updates on the case.
Smith worked at a liquor store near Maureen’s apartment and was known to operate a hauling service, which possibly had him making trips to the landfill where her body was discovered. While authorities extensively interviewed Smith in 1971, they didn’t have enough hard evidence to charge him. He also refused to take a polygraph test.
“We just figure he’ll suffer in hell for it,” said Mary Brubaker, whose husband died in 2002. “What’s done is done, and at least we know it was him, and we can quit wondering. We can let it go.”
Because Smith is dead, there will be no prosecution. Despite not apprehending their suspect alive, Cedar Rapids Police said have officially closed the case.