No Sign of Bodies at Former Home of Alleged Serial Killer

Lucy Studey maintains she helped bury bodies on property where cadaver dogs registered hits
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 26, 2022 7:58 AM CDT
Updated Dec 9, 2022 7:44 AM CST
Woman Claims Dad Was Prolific Serial Killer: I Helped Bury the Bodies
Stock photo of an abandoned well.   (Getty Images/ognennaja)
UPDATE Dec 9, 2022 7:44 AM CST

There's no evidence of a serial killer at an Iowa property where a woman claims she helped her father bury up to 70 bodies, officials say. After an exhaustive search involving "an array of experts representing several disciplines and significant assets to excavate, collect, and examine soil samples … no evidence or other items of concern were recovered," the state's Department of Public Safety said Thursday. A rep for the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation said "there is nothing further to corroborate the claims" against Donald Dean Studey, father of Lucy Studey. Lucy's sister, Susan, tells NBC News that her sibling was "misguided" and her allegations are "absolutely not true," though Lucy is standing by her claims. "I'm the only one speaking the truth," she says.

Oct 26, 2022 7:58 AM CDT

Lucy Studey isn't the first person to claim their father was a serial killer. (See here, here, and here.) But she's one of the few who says she knows where the evidence lies. How? She says she helped him bury the bodies. Iowa authorities are now investigating the claim that Donald Dean Studey, who died at age 75 in 2013, was one of the country's most prolific serial killers, murdering 50 to 70 women and at least two men over three decades. His daughter says he would kill "five or six" women a year and dump the bodies in and around a 90-foot well on the family's five-acre property near the small town of Thurman, not far from the Iowa-Nebraska state line, reports the Des Moines Register.

Two cadaver dogs separately registered hits for human remains "in the exact same places" on the property, now owned by someone else, on Friday, Fremont County Sheriff Kevin Aistrope tells Newsweek. "I believe her 100% that there's bodies in there," he adds. "According to the dogs, this is a very large burial site." The FBI has already dug out part of the well, which had been filled in, but it's unclear if they found anything. Aistrope says the sheriff's office, which is joining with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation to search for concrete evidence, is prepared to do a full excavation at a cost of $300,000. It's worth it, says Studey, who tells Newsweek that she wants "to bring closure for people and to give these women a proper burial," which is long overdue.

Studey says she long ago went to "law enforcement all over Iowa and Nebraska trying to get something done" but "they couldn't trust the memory of a child." Yet her memory is vivid. She says her father would kill sex workers and transients, often in the family's trailer, then get his children to help move the bodies using a wheelbarrow or toboggan. "He would just tell us we had to go to the well, and I knew what that meant," she tells Newsweek. She says the children would help pile dirt and lye on the bodies once they were inside the well and that she often feared her father would kill her "because I wouldn't keep my mouth shut." Aistrope says his office began investigating Studey's claims when she reached out for at least the second time in 2021, per the Register. (Read more serial killer stories.)

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