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IC Police Make Arrest in 1997 Murder Case

IOWA CITY, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28) -- Police have arrested a former Iowa City man in connection with a cold case. 73-year-old John Bloomfield is in custody in Minnesota. He is charged with killing his wife Frances in Iowa City 16 years ago.

To understand how this cold case was cracked, you have to start at the beginning - September 22, 1997.

Bloomfield, then a University of Iowa researcher, says he returned home from a conference in Paris that day and found his wife was missing.

That wasn't all he claimed, says Sgt. Vicki Lalla with Iowa City police.

It appeared that their home had been burglarized and one of their cars was missing also, Lalla said.

Later that day, Mrs. Bloomfields body was found in a ditch in Rockford, Illinois, wrapped in plastic. A coroner determined she had been dead for at least two days. Two months later, the car was found in an airport parking lot in New Jersey with no license plates.

Back in Iowa City, neighbors were stunned.

It's a sad thing that something like this could happen, one resident said back in 1997. It could happen in any neighborhood.

John Bloomfield denied involvement, saying he was traveling when she was killed. The investigation continued, but Lalla says soon the trail went cold.

Followed up the leads, the leads didn't pan out, Lalla said.

16 years later, it all came down to those three familiar letters DNA.

They were able to have that DNA analyzed, technology today that wasn't available in 1997.

Indeed, the material used to tie-in Mrs. Bloomfield contained male DNA - DNA that led right back to her husband. There was also a hair found on the tape on her body that was "microscopically similar to the defendant's hair,"

The case shows how much science has changed criminal investigations, providing hope for other families waiting for a breakthrough.

We can make connections, and tie evidence to cases that we wouldn't have been able to before, Lalla said.

In the criminal complaint filed against Bloomfield, investigators say he gave inconsistent accounts of the time leading up to the murder and his discovery that his wife was missing. It also mentioned he had interest in another woman at the time.

He will be brought back to Iowa to face first degree murder charges.

ST. PAUL (CBS 2/FOX 28) -- Iowa City Police investigators, along with St. Paul Police, arrested John Richard Bloomfield on Nov. 26, 2013 for the 1997 murder of his wife in Iowa City.
    73-year-old Bloomfield of St. Paul, Minnesota was arrested at his home and charged with 1st degree murder in the death of 57-year-old Frances Bloomfield, on or about September 20, 1997.
    Officials say John Bloomfield called police on Monday, September 22, 1997 at 6:30 am, to report that he had just returned home from a business trip and found that his wife was missing and that it appeared their home on Wakefield Court in Iowa City, had been burglarized. Bloomfield also reported that the family car was missing. That same day, at approximately 4:00 pm, the body of Frances Bloomfield was discovered in a ditch near Rockford, Illinois, bound and wrapped in plastic. The missing vehicle was located in November, 1997, in an airport parking lot in New Jersey.
    Police say the investigation into this incident has been on-going since 1997. Advancements in forensic technology allowed investigators to test DNA that was found on some of the material used to bind the body.  According to authorities, it was found to be consistent with John Bloomfield's DNA.
    John Bloomfield remains in custody in St. Paul, Minnesota, pending extradition to Iowa.

The Iowa City Police Department would like to thank the following agencies for their assistance throughout the investigation into this incident:
Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation
Federal Bureau of Investigation
United States Attorney's Office-Southern District
Winnebago County, Illinois, Sheriff's Office
Winnebago County, Illinois, Coroner's Office
State of Iowa Medical Examiner's Office
St. Paul, Minnesota, Police Dept.
Johnson County Attorney's Office

As with any criminal case, a charge is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

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