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Human remains found at Little Wall Lake

Car with Hamilton County license plates pulled from water

July 26, 2012
Carrie Olson - Staff Writer ( , The Daily Freeman Journal

JEWELL - The human remains found at Little Wall Lake on Thursday may be those of a Hamilton County man who was reported missing on Nov. 1, 2007.

Local campers found human bones and clothing earlier in the day, and a green Buick with Hamilton County license plates was pulled from the waters later Thursday. Eyewitness reports indicate that a man who is allegedly related to Virgil L. Wilcox ran onto the jetty at the northwest corner of the lake to talk to law enforcement officials as the car was being removed.

Although no identification was made by officials on the scene, the Iowa Department of Public Safety website indicates that Wilcox, 66, a Hamilton County resident, has been missing since 2007.

Article Photos

On Thursday, July 27, Tolle Automotive, of Webster City, towed a green Buick from
-Daily Freeman-Journal photos by Carrie Olson
Little Wall Lake. It was found by the Story County Dive Team after human remains were found by anglers off of a popular fishing jetty on Thursday morning.

The discovery of the body was made early Thursday morning as Bristal Waldera, of Nevada, was camping with her family at the Hamilton County park south of Jewell just off U.S. Highway 69. They had decided to go fishing off the popular fishing jetty at the lake around 10 a.m., she said.

Waldera, who is originally from Jewell, said when her stepfather, Lyle Clabaugh, of Jewell, cast his line into the lake the bobber fell from the line and flew into the water. She decided to retrieve the bobber with a net, she said. That's when her children saw a shoe floating on the other side of the jetty.

"My kids started shouting 'get the shoe out, get the shoe out,'" Waldera said. "I ended up going close to the water to grab it out with the net."

But after grabbing the shoe with the net, she made a grisly discovery. The brown slip-on tennis shoe had a foot inside the sock in the shoe. The bones of the foot were attached to a leg bone inside a pair of khaki-colored pants.

Waldera said she yelled at her family that there was a body in the lake.

"My family didn't believe me at first, and thought I was joking," she said. "They ended up running over, and as soon as they saw it they called 911."

Waldera said she thought the body had been in the lake for awhile.

Before the car was discovered, Story County Dive Team members began searching the lake near the jetty at about 1:30 p.m. It was 5:20 p.m. when a Tolle Automotive tow truck from Webster City started to back down to the water. By 6 p.m., it began pulling the car from the water.

The remains were taken to the state medical examiner's office for further examination and identification.

Hamilton County Sheriff's Department officials declined to make any further comments at the scene.

Assisting the sheriff's department were the Ellsworth-Jewell-Stanhope Police Department, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Hamilton County Conservation, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, state medical examiner's office. Foster Funeral Home and Cremation Center was also on scene.



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