Lies, Damned Lies, and Murder: One was a wealthy retiree, the other a He was a huckster, a crook, a conman. Their meeting will have tragic consequences.
The Horror is Real: Horror movie enthusiastic Cindy takes a trip to the theater for a late screening of her favorite movie. There she encounters a real monster.
Crazy, Stupid Love: Feeling neglected by her husband, Mary Ann gets involved with a younger man. Problem is, he’s dangerously unstable.
Bitter Tears: A 19-year-old gives in to her cravings and makes a late-night snack run to the store. That puts her in the path of a killer.
A Wedding and a Funeral: Theirs was a romance that burned hot and heavy. The thing with that kind of attraction is that someone might get burned.
A Deal with the Devil: Fran has finally plucked up the courage to leave her abusive husband Ed. Now Ed’s shopping around…for an assassin.
Blabbermouth: As a teen, he’d committed a terrible crime; as an adult, he couldn’t stop bragging about it. Sometimes, a man’s got to know when to shut up.
Candy: A sweet little girl is murdered while selling candy door-to-door. Solving this terrible crime will take an incredible 62 years.
Cold Cases: Solved! Volume 7
Hunting a Dead Man
In the spring of 1984, the tiny rural burg of Drakesville, Iowa, experienced a sudden surge in violent crime. It started with an arson attack on a trailer, home to 20-year-old Justin Hook. The residence had already burned to the ground by the time firefighters got there and, with no sign of the occupant, there were genuine fears that he might have been incinerated with it. However, Justin wasn’t among the ruins. His body was discovered nearby, lying on the ground, bloodied and battered. It appeared he’d been bludgeoned to death.
Drakesville is a town of just 200 inhabitants. The deputies knew that Justin Hook’s mother lived nearby and now had the unenviable task of breaking the terrible news to her. However, when they arrived at Sara Link’s residence, they found nobody home. Given the circumstances under which her son had just been found, that sparked immediate concern, and a search was launched. It would be resolved two days later when a farmer in Eldon, 15 miles northeast of Drakesville, found a body in a wooded area of his property. Like her son, Sara Link had been beaten to death.
And that discovery would soon be connected to a missing person report from Ottumwa, some 20 miles away. Nineteen-year-old Tina Lade had disappeared while visiting her fiancé in Drakesville. Worryingly, her fiancé was the recently discovered murder victim, Justin Hook. That did not bode well for Tina. The worst fears were realized on April 18, when police dogs brought their handlers to her corpse, discarded in a ravine about a half-mile from where Sara Link had been found. Like the other victims, Tina had been beaten to death with a blunt object. She had also been raped.
Given the relationship between the three victims, it seemed very likely that the same perpetrator was responsible. This was confirmed when Wapello County investigators found identical shoe prints at two of the crime scenes. As their inquiries continued, detectives learned that Justin Hook had recently been involved in a dispute with another man over the sale of a pickup. The name they were given was one that many of the officers were familiar with. Andrew Six was a young thug and petty criminal. Just 19 years old, he had already accumulated a lengthy rap sheet.
Six wasn’t difficult to find. Hauled in for questioning, he denied involvement in the murders and claimed that he’d been out of town at the time. This was backed up by some of his lowlife friends, which meant that his alibi was basically worthless. Nonetheless, it was impossible to break, and the police had nothing else to connect Six to the crime scenes. Nothing, that is, but the shoeprints. The size was right but Six did not have a shoe with matching tread in his closet. A criminal as savvy as he would have known to get rid of it. In the end, the Wapello County Sheriff’s Department simply lacked the evidence to bring charges. Six was free to go. That would have tragic consequences for a family living in nearby Ottumwa, Iowa.
Don Allen had health issues, specifically a cardiac condition that required open heart surgery. That was expensive and Don, unfortunately, did not have health insurance. The only solution was to sell off some of his belongings, starting with his beloved pick-up truck. He put the word out that it was for sale and soon attracted the attention of a man named Donald Petary, who said that he was interested and wanted to view the vehicle and take it for a spin. Arrangements were made. On the evening of April 10, 1987, Petary pulled up in front of the Allen family’s trailer, driving an old clunker. There was another man in the car with him, his nephew, Andrew Six.
Petary spent very little time viewing the pickup, not even bothering to lift the hood. After circling the vehicle just once, he asked to take it for a test drive. Don Allen, of course, was not about to let a stranger drive off in his truck unsupervised. But Don was unwell and so his wife, Stella, agreed to accompany the potential buyer. Minutes later, she was being driven away from the trailer, seated between the two men. They were barely a mile down the road when Six pulled a knife and held it to her throat. Petary then pulled over and he and Six overpowered Stella, securing her hands with duct tape. They then turned the vehicle around and headed back to the trailer. This had been their plan all along, to steal the truck and rob the family.
Don Allen was waiting outside when the truck pulled up. He was somewhat surprised that they’d returned so soon but then Six dragged Stella from the front seat with a knife to her throat. Petary, also armed with a knife, ordered Don back into the trailer. Here, his hands were bound before he and Stella were hustled into their bedroom, where they were gagged.
But Don and Stella were not the only ones in the trailer that night. Also present were their heavily pregnant 17-year-old daughter, Christine, and her younger sibling, 12-year-old Kathy. The younger girl was brought into the room with her parents. Christine was found cowering in her bedroom by Andrew Six. Despite her advanced state of pregnancy, he held a knife to her throat, and forced her to undress. Then, ignoring pleas for the safety of her unborn child, he raped her.
The Allen family had been terrorized, brutalized, violated in their own home. But for them, a terrifying evening was only just getting started. All four were now sequestered in a single room while their captors went through the place, taking anything of value. They then returned to demand Don’s wallet and Stella’s purse. At this point, Don managed to break free and tried to defend his family. But he was weak with his illness and easily subdued. “You try anything like that again, and you all die,” Six sneered at him. Then he ordered his terrified captives to their feet and jostled them outside.
What was the purpose of this? We don’t know. Possibly Six and Petary’s plan was to butcher the family outside their trailer. But it was at this point that Don and Christine broke free and sprinted away into the darkness. In revenge, Six lashed out at Stella, drawing his knife across her throat, opening a deep gash, nicking the carotid artery. Blood immediately started gushing from the wound as Stella threw up a hand and tried desperately to stem the flow. The cut would later require 50 stitches to close. Had Don not returned with help at that point, Stella would likely have died.
But Don had arrived too late to save his younger daughter. Six and Petary dragged her into their car and sped away into the night. Shortly after, an alert was issued but the fugitives somehow managed to avoid the dragnet. When they were apprehended in east Texas the following evening, Kathy Allen was not with them.
Six would later reveal under interrogation what had happened to the girl. And he wasn’t holding back on the appalling details. He said that he and Petary had taken Kathy to an isolated spot where they’d taken turns raping her. Six had then cut her throat. Kathy’s body was later recovered from a muddy ditch along a gravel road about 20 miles south of the Iowa border in Schuyler County, Missouri. The gaping wound to her throat had severed both her jugular vein and carotid artery. The 12-year-old had bled to death, alone and terrified in the dark.
Andrew Six and Donald Petary would pay the ultimate price for their inhuman act of savagery. Convicted of aggravated murder by a Schuyler County jury, they were both sentenced to death. Petary would not keep his date with the executioner. He died in prison in 1998, while awaiting execution. Andrew Six was already dead by then. He’d felt the sting of the needle on August 20, 1997. The world is a better place for his passing.
In August of 2011, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI), contacted the Sheriff’s Offices in Davis and Wapello Counties to inquire about old, unsolved homicides. The DCI had recently received a federal grant, allowing it to set up a cold case unit. It was looking specifically for quick wins, cases in which the jurisdictions had unprocessed biological evidence. As it turned out, Davis and Wapello Counties had a mutual case that fit the criteria, the triple homicide of Justin Hook, Tina Lade, and Sara Link. Semen had been retrieved from the inside of Tina Lade’s jeans. It held the secret to a 25-year-old mystery.
Or perhaps not that much of a secret. Investigators had always known who was responsible for the murders, they’d just lacked the evidence to prove it. Now, DNA would provide the answer. It was Andrew Wessel Six.
Six, of course, was beyond the reach of the law. He’d been put to death 14 years earlier for the murder of Kathy Allen. You can’t prosecute a dead man, but you can bring closure to the loved ones of his victims. After years of uncertainty, the families finally had answers. The man responsible was dead. He’d never harm another soul.
FOOTNOTE: The Iowa DCI Cold Case Unit would achieve remarkable success during its short tenure, closing numerous cases that had appeared to be lost causes. However, the unit ran out of funding in 2011 and was shut down. Even without the dedicated unit, though, the DCI remains committed to solving Iowa’s cold cases. Its agents still diligently work these investigations. Murderers should not rest easily in their beds.