Jim and Joyce Klindt see an attorney about a divorce.
March 13 — Joyce Klindt does not know her husband has decided to proceed with the divorce until she finds papers in his office. She decides to get her own attorney, borrowing money from neighbors Don and Mary Ann Roth to do so.
March 17 — Joyce Klindt secretly records a 45-minute conversation with her husband. Along with several other items, she gives the tape to Don and Mary Ann Roth for safekeeping. Among angry words, the tape includes mention of Klindt’s drug dealings, accusations of income-skimming, talk of a girlfriend of Jim Klindt’s, and how the property and custody would be divided. Toward the end of the conversation, this exchange takes place:
Jim: Why was I lying to ya?
Joyce: ... and trying to kill me ... stuffing my head down the bed and...
Jim: I was trying to kill you ... ya ...
Joyce: ... pulled my head down
Jim: I was trying to show you how much I didn’t want you to get a lawyer.
Joyce: Oh, you hurt me. You had my head down in the covers and told me you were (gonna) cut me up in little pieces and I was going to die.
Jim: Yeah, that’s dramatics. Anyway, I can hardly wait to just see the file, for you, what you get. You’re gonna get less than this. You’re gonna get less than what I give you.
March 18 — Joyce Klindt is missing. Friends and family members, including the Roths, launch a frantic search for her. Her car is found at the Moline Holiday Inn. The Roths give the tape to police.
March 30 — Police search Jim Klindt’s motor home.
April 16 — Parts of a body are found in the Mississippi River by two East Moline fishermen at 9:15 a.m., just inside the western limits of Bettendorf. An unclothed lower torso is found first, then a stomach and intestines are discovered five hours later. Police say it could be one of two women reported missing. One of the women is found alive. Joyce Klindt is the other. The torso, officials determine, was cut by a chainsaw 3 1/2 inches above the navel. Both legs were severed, one 7 inches from the pubic bone, one 3¼ inches down. A 19-inch cut along the back, 4 1/2 inches deep, cut through the backbone.
April 17 — Police search the Klindt home, where they retrieve a chainsaw and strands of hair. The search in the river for additional body parts continues.
May 10 — Klindt gets his chainsaw back, without the chain and blades, after he requests it be returned.
June 29 — Authorities report that the blood type of the torso — A — matches Joyce Klindt’s blood type.
Oct. 21 — Klindt pleads guilty to two drug charges that were filed after the search of his motor home.
Dec. 15, 1983 — Klindt is fined $300 and given a suspended jail sentence.
Feb. 16 — First official confirmation that the torso found in the river is that of Joyce Klindt. The tests come from a Dallas forensics lab, which used genetic markers, the precursor to DNA evidence, using blood samples from her son, husband and parents. “I am certain that the torso is Joyce Klindt and I am confident that we can prove it’s Joyce Klindt,” prosecutor Bill Davis said.
Feb. 17 — Jim Klindt files a claim on his wife’s life insurance policy, saying she is dead.
March 28 — Klindt is arrested at 4 p.m. in his office, reportedly saying “Hi there” when officers arrive. He is led from the clinic on the first floor of his parents’ home in his blue lab coat.
April 15 — Jim and Joyce Klindt’s mothers are awarded joint custody of the couple’s son, Bart; Bart Klindt goes to live with his paternal grandparents.
April 26 — Authorities question whether the torso will yield enough clues for identification.
May 3 — Klindt writes a letter to an attorney, saying Joyce is alive and three people have seen her.
Aug. 7 — Trial is moved because of pretrrial publicity.
Aug. 13 — The first trial begins in Keokuk, Iowa.
Sept. 4 — Trial ends with a hung jury after 31/2 days of deliberation.
Nov. 5 — Second trial begins in Sioux City, Iowa.
Nov. 20 — Jim Klindt is convicted of second-degree murder after jury deliberates 15 hours.
Nov. 24 — Joyce Klindt is laid to rest, 19 months and two murder trials after her disappearance. Her obituary notice reads: “Mrs. Klindt was declared dead Tuesday.” Tuesday was the day of Jim Klindt’s conviction.
Dec. 21 — Klindt is sentenced to 50 years in prison. Prosecutor Bill Davis estimates he will serve 12 to 13 years.
January — Klindt loses his chiropractor’s license.
July — An estate sale brings in hundreds of buyers for items from the Klindt home, including a slate pool table, an antique wood airplane propeller, a painting of their home, an artificial Christmas tree, clothes and the bed where Klindt told police he found his wife holding a gun to her head on the last morning she was heard from. A can of chain saw oil priced at 25 cents goes quickly. Joyce Klindt’s parents buy the first item sold — their daughter’s pottery bear collection.
September — The bank holding the mortgage buys back Jim and Joyce Klindt’s home.
July — Klindt confesses to the crime from his prison cell in Rockwell City, Iowa. He tells the Fort Dodge Messenger he killed her in self-defense.
“I turned the corner into the bedroom and said ’hi’ to Joyce and as I did, she brought the gun up, and, pointed it to my head.
“I ran out of the bedroom, and the pool room was right outside. I picked up the pool ball, and threw it back toward her. I was an athlete, and I could throw fairly hard. I wasn’t trying to hit her, just to buy a little time. I kept waiting for the concussion when she shot, but it never came.“
He said he then took her to the flooded river and tied her body to a tree. He returned later and cut her up with a chainsaw.
At one point, he said: “I can tell you this: When I finally walk out that door, I’ll be pure — pure as you’d ever want.“
March 13 — Jim Klindt was released from prison at the conclusion of his sentence, five days shy of the 21st anniversary of Joyce Klindt’s disappearance.
Get breaking news sent instantly to your inbox
Though originally sentenced to 50 years in prison, the sentence was automatically cut in half, and Klindt was given time for good behavior under laws in effect at the time. If sentenced today for the crime, he would serve 421/2 years.
Two permanent memorials are dedicated to Joyce Klindt in the Quad-Cities: a kneeler in the chapel at Zion Lutheran Church in Davenport and her gravesite at Davenport Memorial Park.
Oct. 2 — Jim Klindt was charged with two counts of drug possession and a charge of possession of drug paraphernalia after he was stopped at 3 a.m. at West 4th Street and Western Avenue for a traffic violation. He was sentenced to one year probation for the drug possession. A female passenger also was charged.
Aug. 13 — Klindt pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge of interfering with officers and paid a $50 fine. Police were called to his residence regarding a domestic dispute with his girlfriend.
He disobeyed a police order against re-entering the house. He also tried to twist away from officers and was handcuffed.
November — Klindt opens a tiny taco business at 4th and Howell streets in Davenport called Eats and Sweets.
Working eight out of the 20 years he spent in prison as a cook taught him a new skill, which he is using as he tries to rebuild his life.
Dec. 4 — “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno picks up a story that ran in the Quad—City Times about Klindt’s taco stand.
“James Klindt, who spent more than a year in the Quad-City spotlight for murdering and dismembering his wife, has opened a tiny eatery in Davenport called Eats and Sweets.“
Leno put the emphasis on “Eats and Sweets.”
Klindt, who said he went to bed early, said he didn’t see Leno as he read.
Early July — James Klindt is asked by a volunteer with the Muscular Dystrophy Association to participate in the organization’s “Lockup” fundraiser scheduled for Aug. 23 at the then-named John O’Donnell Stadium, Davenport.
He agreed to be put in a makeshift cell and given a telephone so he could call friends and family to raise about $2,000 “bail” money that would go to MDA. Such fundraisers, also known as “jail and bails,” are common.
However, when the MDA found out about his past, the invitation to help at the fundraiser was rescinded.
At the time, Klindt said he still will donate to the organization. “I think it’s sad for the kids,” he said.
April 1 — Klindt pleads guilty to possession of drug paraphernalia, specifically a crack pipe, according to documents filed in Scott County District Court. He was fined $65.
Klindt was driving a Plymouth minivan at 10:30 p.m. Sunday when he was stopped for a plate lamp violation by two Scott County sheriff’s deputies. Klindt was detained “for safety reasons.”
During a pat-down of Klindt, one of the deputies found a thin round object in Klindt’s back right pants pocket, the report states. The object was a crack pipe with burnt residue.
Thursday — Jim Klindt fell and hurt himself.
Saturday — Jim Klindt pronounced dead at Genesis Medical Center, West Central Park.