Murder, She Wrote…

Although we loved living near the Mississippi River in Davenport Iowa, a couple of pretty bizarre events occurred while we were part of that community. Guess it’s only logical once you figure the numbers game. Take my little town of Rock Valley, where I grew up. The town consisted of about 2,500 folks. You could safely assume a few of them were whack jobs.The population of Davenport in the mid 80’s was around 100,000 people. Equals out to lots more nut jobs. Not trying to be disrespectful. These were some seriously mentally ill individuals. Here’s my memories of 2 tragedies that happened while we lived there.

 

One of several bridges crossing the Mississippi from Davenport…

The first odd ball (murdering scoundrel) was a chiropractor. I remember their home resembled a castle. It was big, new and had a really neat looking turret. His name was Jim and his wife’s name was Joyce. Before I moved to the Quad Cities, Joyce had subbed on one of the bowling leagues I would soon join. Joyce disappeared in March of 1983. About a month later, a couple of boating fishermen were enjoying a fine spring day on the Mississippi when they noticed something jammed up against the shore. Turned out to be a torso. Holy moly. It was Joyce. The crazy husband, Dr. Jim was arrested. Later found guilty of second degree murder. Killing, dismembering Joyce with a chain saw and dumping her parts in the Mississippi. I don’t believe any of her other parts or the chain saw were ever found. He served 20 years of his 50 year sentence.

 

Joyce Klindt, 33 before her untimely death…

 

Released in 2004, Jim moved back to Davenport and lived with his now elderly parents. Was arrested numerous times during the next decade. Drugs, domestic disturbance (not against his parents, thank heavens, but a girl friend). Allegedly took a nasty spill at home early in 2014, hitting a piece of furniture on the way to the floor. Died a couple days later at age 62. End of the road for Jim.

Happy days for Jim Klindt, freedom…

 

I don’t remember exactly how we hooked up with Doug. My guess is he ran an ad in the Quad City Times that I noticed. Or someone recommended him to us. We were fairly new to the city. Shannon was 11, Joshua was 7 and Adam was 3. We needed a doctor and dentist for starters. Found a family physician nearby named Harold Miller who was fabulous. Our new dentist, Doug Castleberry was a bit farther away. We all liked him immediately. He was good with the kids, and not much older than us. Had his own practice, and a great staff.

My life back then was very different than the one I have now. Busy stay at home mom of 3. I was out and about all the time. One, 2 or all of the kids had to be driven here or there. One needed new shoes from Northpark Mall, one had baseball practice, or play dates too far away to walk (but that’s not what they were called back then). Grocery shopping was non stop. We were constantly running low on food in our house cause the kids ate, well constantly. I bowled on a couple leagues, played double deck Euchre regularly with a fabulous group of gals. There weren’t many days that I didn’t have to do one or several of the following. Haul, drag, chaperone, coerce kids for doctor appointments, haircuts, carpooling or shopping. Occasionally I even managed go out for Chinese food at lunch with a friend.

 

Shannon, 12, Adam 4, Joshua 8, Davenport, 1983…

 

Dr. Castleberry was married to a pharmacist. She worked in a hospital across the river (Quad-City-speak. Davenport and Bettendorf were on the Iowa side of the Mississsippi, Rock Island and Moline on the Illinois side. Voila, you now have the Quad Cities). I never met her, but vaguely remember her name might have been Arlene. Doesn’t really matter. But the name Arlene keeps popping in my head when I think about the Castleberry’s.

 

The Mighty Mississippi from the Iowa side…

 

Imagine living in a city like Davenport, plus the other 3 cities that make up the Quad. So total about a half million people. You’d be hard pressed to ever think you might run into ANYONE you knew. But I did. I vividly recall running into Doug several times over the course of 2 or 3 years. Always seemingly innocently having lunch or a couple of drinks after work with his dental assistant. A gal named Jackie. She was adorable. I might be an Iowa hick, but after running into them more than twice, I knew something was going on between them. Geez, half looped on nitrous oxide at his office, I could see the sparks fly between them with a wad of cotton and novocaine stuck in my mouth.

So this happened during spring break a couple years later. The kids all had appointments for dental checkups and cleanings. We were about to leave for Dr. Castleberry’s office when I got a phone call. It was his office. Arlene had called the office and left a message during the weekend, telling them Doug been called out of town due to the sudden death of one of his college roommates. He’d be back in town in a couple of days. Would it be ok if we rescheduled the appointments later in the week? Not a problem. Although the kids liked Dr. Castleberry, no dentist appointment was still better than going to the dentist. Especially during spring break. But a couple days later, Doug was still not back to work, so we moved their appointments to a later date again.

 

Mississippi…

 

Jackie did not have a good feeling about this situation. No way Doug would not call her himself and explain what happened and when exactly he’d be back in the office. This particular weekend was very important to both of them. Doug was finally going to tell Arlene he wanted a divorce. Jackie was a huge part of the reason but certainly not all of it. Doug was unhappily married to an unstable person. He decided long before Jackie that he was not going to continue living like this.

 

Bridging the Mississippi…

 

Jackie convinced a coworker to go with her to the Castleberry house. She wanted to make sure everything was ok. No one answered the numerous phone calls or had spoken to either one of them since Arlene had called explaining Doug’s sudden absence. As they pulled up to the house, both gals noticed several days worth of mail and newspapers laying on the front steps. Not a good sign. No one answered their repeated knocking at the door. Jackie, a petite little thing hoisted herself up on the other gal’s shoulders and peeked in the window. What she saw was devastating. Arlene was slouched on a kitchen chair, with her head laying on the table. What in the world had happened? And where was Doug? Near hysterics, they ran to a neighbor’s house and called the police.

Once the cops arrived, Jackie and the co-worker were not allowed to enter the house. Doug was found in their bedroom. He had been shot several times with a 357 Magnum. After piecing the story together, it seems that Doug had finally worked up the courage to break the news to Arlene. Their marriage was over. He was leaving. Arlene saw things differently. She decided if she couldn’t have Doug, Jackie certainly couldn’t either. She emptied the gun to prove that point. Then fabricated the “death of a college buddy” giving her some time. But there really was no way out of this mess for her. I believe in her mind, justice had been served. She swallowed a boatload of pills that ended her life soon after she ended Doug’s.

 

The view of Davenport from the River…

 

Two freaky, sad, bizarre, senseless murders. Three deaths. Four if you count Jim taking a dive. Jim and Joyce’s violent ordeal made national news and headlines for days. But I didn’t know either of them. Never bowled with Joyce or saw Jim as a chiropractor. If they had children, they were not friends, acquaintances or attended the same school as our kids. Although I really only knew Doug as our dentist, he seemed like my friend. His death was very hard on the kids. Explaining death to children is a tough enough subject to tackle. A violent death to someone they personally knew and liked was almost unfathomable. Holy cow, it was hard enough for John and I to accept. The Castleberry tragedy was not handled on the same sensational scale as the Klindt case. Not a lot of news coverage like the Klindt murder a couple years before. But for me, the Castleberry’s deaths were much more tragic and personal. For our whole family…

 

 

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