Dead Iowa man accused of being notorious serial killer by daughter; investigation underway

Federal and state authorities are investigating one woman’s claims that her dead father was a prolific serial killer who buried dozens of victims in a rural part of Iowa.

Lucy Studey said her father, Donald Studey, may have killed upwards of 70 people and buried them near a well on the family’s property in Thurman, Iowa, a small city about 40 miles southeast of Omaha, Nebraska, according to police, Newsweek first reported.

Cadaver dogs trained to sniff out human remains had multiple hits when searching the area that Ms. Studey directed them to.

“All we have is a woman came forward and told us a story about bodies in a well,” Fremont County Sheriff Kevin Aistrope told KETV. “We did bring a couple cadaver dogs. Cadaver dogs looked in there or looked around the area, and they did indicate in the area. I’m not going to say it was right over the well, but they did indicate in the area.”

Law enforcement officials, including from the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and the FBI, are now planning the next steps of the investigation. That could involve digging up the well, which Sheriff Aistrope told the Des Moines Register would be a major undertaking.

He also expressed some skepticism about Ms. Studey’s claims, but hedged by saying they could have been from out of town. He said most of the suspected victims were young female prostitutes and runaways.

“If we had had 70 missing persons from Omaha-Council Bluffs, we would have picked up on that,” Sheriff Aistrope told the newspaper. “So if there is 70 people, they’re not all from here.”

Ms. Studey’s sister, Susan, also refuted the claims that their father was one of the most violent killers in U.S. history.

Susan Studey told Newsweek that she hadn’t heard Lucy’s theory about their father until a year ago. The Daily Mail reported that Susan believes the cadaver dogs detected the remains of Donald Studey’s stillborn sister, who was buried in a shoebox on the property.

“I think I would know if my father murdered. I would know if my dad was a serial killer. He was not, and I want my father’s name restored,” Susan Studey told Newsweek.

Donald Studey died in 2013.

Lucy Studey’s claims, if found to be true, would make her father one of the nation’s most notorious killers in its history.

Samuel Little has been directly tied to 60 murders of women and had confessed to killing more than 90 women. He died in 2020. “Green River Killer” Gary Ridgway confessed to murdering more than 60 women after he was arrested in 2001 and is suspected to have murdered more than 70.

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