After solving 50-year-old teen murder, case has lessons to this day

Fifty years ago Maureen Brubaker Farley was reported missing. The Cedar Rapids Gazette reported that on Sept. 14 she failed to show up to her waitressing job. Farley was found dead on Sept. 24, 1971, in a wooded cannon now called Tait Cummins Park by two teenage boys who were going hunting a week later. The boys had thought she was sleeping, but when they came back they realized they had found a dead body. She was partially unclothed and an autopsy found out that she was sexually abused and was hit over the head causing her death. 

Farley’s mother and sister are overwhelmed by the feeling of closure about the case. DNA was not a thing in law enforcement in 1971, so when it did start becoming a thing in 2006, they were able to figure out Farley’s killer thanks to the detective who sent in the DNA before they would have lost it in the flood. Farley’s sister Lisa Schenzel went into law enforcement in 1991 partly because of her sister. Schenzel wanted to help kids.

Even all these years later, the case reverberates. Officer Liesel Reimers, the liaison officer for the district, said that if you ever find yourself about to be kidnapped, trust your gut. Always scream, be aware of your surroundings, fight back, remember everything, look out for yourself and keep yourself safe. Reimers also said that if you do find yourself kidnapped, try to get to a phone, try to get an alone moment, and try to get yourself out there. 

The NOAA says that if you find yourself in a situation where you are about to be kidnapped, then try a couple of these techniques. Use a physical distraction. Throw something heavy at them so you can try to get away. A verbal distraction might also work. Try to yell out for help or something, or for a visual distraction, throw something that looks heavier but isn’t so they duck. Do everything you can to get away from them. If you can get a hit in, hit them in a very sensitive spot. No matter what you do, try to not get hit in return. Avoid being attacked, and once your attacker is down, run and/or scream for help.

If you ever find yourself in a situation where you get kidnapped, use a couple of these things. Retain a sense of pride but act cooperatively. Be observant. Notice everything, even the little things. Divulge information that you can use to identify your kidnapper if you escape. Know your captors. Keep your answers short and don’t give them any excess information they could use against you. 

Concentrate on surviving. Do not antagonize your captor with obstinate behavior. If you are drugged, then don’t resist. It’s better than being beaten unconscious. 

Speak normally. Don’t complain. Once a level of rapport or communication is achieved, try asking for items that will increase your personal comfort. Make requests that are in a reasonable, low-key manner. 

If isolated you can approximate the time by noting the change in temperature between night and day, the frequency and intensity of outside noises (traffic, birds), and by observing the awareness of the guards. 

Establish a daily schedule of mental and physical exercise. If your movement is extremely limited, use isometric and flexing exercises to keep your muscles toned. 

To maintain strength, eat what you are given even if it doesn’t look appetizing and you don’t feel hungry. Use relaxation techniques to reduce stress. 

If you detect the presence of other hostages in the building, try to devise ways to communicate.

The Gazette said that Cedar Rapids Police Department Cold Case Unit identified and confirmed that George M. Smith was the killer through use of DNA technology that they didn’t have back then. Sadly, Smith died in 2013 so they couldn’t prosecute him, so they just closed the case. Investigator Matt Denlinger gave the news to Schenzel and her mother. During the case Schenzel wanted to keep her sister’s memory alive. “She was gone, not forgotten,” she said, according to the Gazette. 

Her mom used to say when someone died, “Well, now they’re up in heaven with Maureen, and they must be happy, and they know the answers. I just didn’t want to wait that long. I didn’t want us to wait until we go on to the next world. I wanted answers in this world.” 

Schenzel has a Facebook account dedicated to her sister.

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