Iowa Valentine’s Day Murder Remains Unsolved After Two Decades
Today is supposed to be about love, I know. And it is! However, crime still exists on days like Valentine's. Even some of the most heinous acts, and even in small-town Iowa.
Located in the southeastern-most part of the state is the little river city of Keokuk, with a population of just under 10,000. Despite its size, the city has a crime rate that is more than double the rest of Iowa. Per 1,000 people, there are 6.87 violent crimes in a year, as opposed to 3.01 for the remainder of the state.
That doesn't appear like much, but almost 69 (nice) violent crimes in a year are quite a bit for a town the size of Keokuk. One violent crime sticks out among the rest, and it remains unsolved 23 years later.
Dolores A. “Toni” (Martinez) Hornung was shot to death in her home with a 30-30 rifle early in the morning on Valentine’s Day, 1999. Her daughter found her unresponsive later that evening and called 911, but it was to no avail. Investigators determined her death was not of natural causes, and an autopsy was performed two days later. A bullet was recovered from Hornung’s head during the operation.
As shared on Iowa Cold Cases, "Hornung’s boyfriend, Lewis Ray Greer, 33, of Bonaparte, Iowa, was later arrested and charged with first-degree murder in her death, but acquitted by a Lee County jury after a four-day trial. Jurors refused to consider lesser charges, and Greer left the courtroom a free man.
Police never recovered the rifle used in Hornung’s slaying."
Two days prior to the death of the 48-year-old Hornung, one of her neighbors, Eric Redinbo was killed. Police believed it to be an accidental firing of a 12-gauge shotgun that killed Redinbo, as he was attempting to unload it.
Lee County Attorney Mike Short said this in an Estherville Daily News article published on Feb. 18, 1999, discussing the likelihood of the deaths being connected:
I think everyone has tossed that around a lot and so far we’re not coming up with anything. It is a suspicious coincidence, because of the lack of information authorities have.
Redinbo's mother, Carolyn Redinbo Robinson, believes there is a clear connection. This is what she said to Iowa Cold Cases in 2015 in regards to her son's death:
So many things do not make sense. The Keokuk Police Department would not let our family identify [Eric’s] body either, so we have never had closure in this case.
The last person to talk to Hornung, Becky White Feather Riney, added,
[Toni] went to the Keokuk police about [the killing of Redinbo. But, she also talked with many loved ones about it too, including me. She was murdered the very next day.
If you have any information about Dolores “Toni” Hornung’s unsolved murder, please contact the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at 515-725-6010, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact the Keokuk Police Department at 319-524-2741 or the Lee County Attorney’s Office at 319-524-9590.