Jone Knapton's family losing hope 5 years later
Family, friends and co-workers support each other during the third candle light vigil for Jone Knapton held at Leisure Time Billiards in East Moline. (John Schultz/Quad-City Times file photo)

After five years and no arrests for her death, one of Jone Knapton’s sisters says her family is losing hope that the case will ever be solved and still struggles to celebrate July 4th.

Knapton, 46, of East Moline, last spoke with her co-workers at Kone Inc. on July 4, 2003. Two days later she was reported missing after no one could find her. On July 10, some of her remains were discovered in the Green River near Geneseo, Ill.

No one has ever been arrested in connection with her death, but a lawsuit filed by an insurance company two years ago identified her husband, Larry Knapton, as a suspect and asked the court to decide whether he or the couple’s adult daughter, Nicole Knapton, should get Jone’s $100,000 life insurance benefit.

A ruling last year sent the money to Larry Knapton, who now resides northwest of Des Moines. Authorities have never named any suspects publically.

One of Jone Knapton’s sisters, Lisa Mickelson of New Windsor, Ill., said the five-year anniversary has been difficult for the family.

“It just seems kind of final,” she said, referring to the investigation. “How much hope can you hold onto after five years? It’s almost like what else can you do.”

Mickelson said there are no vigils or memorials planned to mark the anniversary of her sister’s death. In the past friends and family have gathered to share stories about Jone Knapton. Last year there was a candlelight memorial July 5.

“No one is really up to that as far as the family,” she said. “It’s really a bad, hard year.”

Phyllis Woodward, a licensed social worker with Robert Young Center for Community Mental Health in Rock Island, said it’s not unusual for an anniversary to be hard on the family, especially when the case is unsolved and there is no closure.

“With any kind of loss there is a grieving process the individual goes through,” she said. “At first they might have been thinking about it all the time. The anniversary will trigger the memories again.”

Mickelson said Illinois State Police have been in touch with Nicole Knapton twice recently with questions related to the case, but described their inquiries as “trivial questions” that gave the family little reason to expect an upcoming breakthrough in the case.

“We just can’t find any answers,” Mickelson said. “We don’t have any closure.”

Mickelson said Henry County prosecutors twice took Jone Knapton’s case to a grand jury with hopes of getting a criminal indictment and each time police were sent away with additional questions to answer.

Henry County State’s Attorney Terry Patton was out of the office Thursday. Attempts to reach him for comment were unsuccessful.

Efforts to reach Larry Knapton and Donovan Robertson, the Rock Island attorney who represented him in the insurance suit, for comment were also unsuccessful.

Scott Williams, coordinator of Quad-City Crime Stoppers, said they get tips on the Knapton investigation every time the anniversary comes up and understands the family’s


“It’s almost like they’re victimized twice because first she’s lost and then it goes unsolved,” Williams said.

Quad-City Crime Stoppers has received close to 200 tips in all on the Knapton case and around 75 tips that provided solid details. The number of tips have diminished over the years and narrowed in focus, Williams said.

Cheryl Ashcraft, another of Jone Knapton’s sisters, said a computer and cell phone belonging to Knapton is still missing. She also said that while some of her remains were found in the Green River in 2003, she is hopeful other body parts may have surfaced after the recent floods.

A $40,000 reward is still available for information that leads to an arrest, Ashcraft said.

Dustin Lemmon can be contacted at (563) 383-2493 or