When Jerry Lee Huff, then 52, walked out of the Scott County Courthouse on Jan. 21, 1997, after being acquitted of first-degree murder and willful injury in the strangulation death of Sandra Dee Kinney, it sent the case back to the Davenport Police Department for investigation.
According to Quad-City Times articles written by Jeff Ewoldt, Huff was accused of strangling Kinney, 33, of Calamus, Iowa, on Saturday, July 20, 1996, and dumping her body into the Mississippi River from Davenport’s riverside bike path.
Kinney’s nude body was discovered floating face-down by fishermen camping near the Crescent Bridge about 8 p.m. The fishermen pulled her body from the river.
Then Davenport Police Lt. Donald Schaeffer said that Kinney had last been seen alive that Saturday morning at a downtown establishment.
Police described Huff as a junk dealer who lived in his car. He was arrested August 1, 1996, and charged with Kinney’s murder.
While it took two weeks to arrest him, police said that Huff was a suspect early in the investigation and even impounded his car five days after Kinneys' body was found.
Although Kinney was from Calamus, she frequented downtown Davenport and sometimes worked as a prostitute to support a crack cocaine habit. Prosecutors alleged that Huff strangled Kinney because she refused to complete a sex act with him.
Huff maintained his innocence throughout the time of his 5-month jail term while awaiting his trial and during his trial.
A Scott County jury deliberated about 90 minutes before acquitting him of the charges. But detectives back then maintained that throughout all their interviews and evidence gathering, everything pointed to Huff.
However, because of the rules of double-jeopardy, Huff can never again be tried for first-degree murder or willful injury in the death of Kinney.
After 22 years, the case awaits a break.
Davenport Police need someone to come forward with credible information that will provide enough evidence for an arrest or at least get the case moving again.
Anyone who may have information regarding this case is asked to call the Davenport Police Department at 563-326-6125 or leave an anonymous tip on the city's mobile apps "CityConnect Davenport, IA," or "CrimeReports" by Motorola.