Reward doubled for information on missing Iowa news anchor and MN native Jodi Huisentruit

Jodi was from Long Prairie, Minnesota and at 27-years-old, the budding journalist had a big personality in the small town.

LONG PRAIRIE, Minn. — Iowa news anchor Jodi Huisentruit disappeared 29 years ago this month and the private investigator determined to find her remains is doubling the reward in a last ditch effort to get more information.

Steve Ridge sat down KARE 11 reporter Jennifer Hoff to talk more about the money, much which is his own, and what’s driving him to solve the infamous cold case.

“What matters now is, can I solve crimes,” said Ridge. “I would say in the last five years, we’ve made incredible progress.”

The former journalist turned private investigator is starting new searches this summer. He says he has a “cadre of associates” focusing on both land and water, certain Jodi’s remains are within a 16.6-mile radius of the Key Apartments in Mason City where she lived. She disappeared in the early morning hours of June 27, 1995 on her way to work at KIMT. Police have said in the past it recovered signs of a struggle outside the building, including a bent car key.

“We’re using boats, we’re using infrared technology, we’re using different kinds of magnets to try and detect something,” said Ridge. “And by the way, there are people that have knowledge. I guarantee you at least two people know where Jodi’s remains are.”

Jodi was from Long Prairie, Minnesota and at 27 years old, the budding journalist had a big personality in the small town.

“She was a vivacious, charismatic, kind of free spirit and people were attracted to her,” said Ridge.

There are reports of her “final fling” and a person of interest, but while police have never named a suspect, Ridge has narrowed it to five of them – all of whom he says are still alive.

“I’m convinced that Jodi’s abductor and killer are on that list,” said Ridge, who Hoff asked if he thinks those people know they’re on his short list. “I think so, and I can tell you the ones that have opted not to talk to me, have been particularly squeamish now in this era of having put up reward money.”

Ridge recently doubled the $50,000 reward he first offered last year, part of a final attempt to encourage someone to come forward.

“One-hundred thousand dollars seems to be the magic number because it has brought people out of the woodwork like I haven’t seen,” said Ridge. “I mean, there are people that want to talk.”

He says he has since gotten two dozen new tips in just a matter of weeks. He remains hopeful the case can be solved even when only 1% of cold cases ever are.

“It gets heavier,” said Ridge. “I feel like I’m carrying a load that includes people like her sister. She goes on, but she needs closure.”

Ridge says the reward will only be offered through June 27. He will also soon appear on the television show “Crime Stories with Nancy Grace” to further talk about the reward. He says anyone with information should call the Mason City Police Department at 641-421-3636.

“Now’s the time for somebody to speak and there’s a lot of rumbling,” said Ridge.

Watch the latest local news from the Twin Cities and across Minnesota in our YouTube playlist: