Shelia Jean Collins was born on the 2nd of August, 1949, to her parents James and Muriel Collins in Elmhurst, Illinois. Shelia was the oldest sister of three girls, her siblings were called Patricia and Lee.
Shelia graduated from Evanston Township High School in June 1967, and in January 1968 she was studying English and Speech at Iowa State University.
Shelia’s body was found on the 28th of January, 1968, face-down in a ditch off a gravel road which was four miles east of Nevada, Iowa and twenty miles east of Ames, Iowa.
Shelia has been strangled to death using a nylon cord that was found knotted around her neck. The medical examiner, Dr John Powers, also said that a pipe that had been incorporated into the knot may have been used as a tuning mechanism to tighten the cord around her neck.
Shelia’s body was found in a squatting position, with her head resting on her knees. Her dark woollen coat had been thrown over her body, which only partly covered her head and body. Dr William R Bliss, the county’s medical examiner, said that whilst there was no physical evidence that Shelia had been raped or sexually assaulted, the position in which her body was found indicated to him that the killer had some sort of sexual deviation.
Her sweatshirt had been pulled up around her neck, and her underwear, blue jeans, purse and suitcase were found just west of her body in a field about six feet away. Her belongings appeared to have been placed on the ground just over a fence.
Shelia was last seen alive on Friday, 26th of January. She had placed a notice on the Iowa State University’s bulletin board stating that she needed a ride to either DeKalb, Illinois or the Chicago area, leaving any Friday. Shelia also wrote her number at the bottom of the notice. This was a common thing for students who needed rides to places to do.
Shelia told one of her female friends that she expected her boyfriend, who was a Northern Illinois University student, to come and pick her up and drop her at her parent’s home for the weekend. But her boyfriend couldn’t make it.
Shelia’s friend said that Shelia received a call just before 8pm on Friday 26th of January and that it was someone offering to give Shelia a ride. Shelia told her friend that she didn’t know the name of the person who was offering her the ride and that she had to meet them on the corner of Lincoln Way (on Highway 30) and Beech Street, which is the first main intersection if you enter the university’s campus from the east.
Shelia called her parents to let them know that she had managed to find a ride to their house. Shelia’s friend then helped her pack her belongings, and then left the Elm Hall dormitory shortly afterwards.
Shelia was last seen at around 8:30pm on Friday, the 26th of January 1968, at the corner of Lincoln Way (on Highway 30) and Beech Street in Ames, Iowa.
Shelia’s parents reported her missing when she did not arrive at their house by 2pm the next day. Her body was then discovered on the 28th of January.
It has been 54 years since Shelia was murdered, and the person responsible for her death has never been identified.
Do you know who killed Shelia?
Unsolved, Murder, Homicide, Cold Case, True Crime, Iowa, 1968, 1960s, Shelia Jean Collins, Mystery