Belleville Serial Killer?
On April 22, 1978 Elizabeth West, fourteen-years-old, disappeared after leaving Belleville Township Highschool. Her body was found May 4th, 1978 in a wooded area near Millstadt, IL. Elizabeth was strangled and hit in the head (Tuft, 1999). On July 7th, 1978, nurse aide Ruth Ann Jany disappeared after depositing her check at a local bank. Her body was found in July 1979 near Hecker, IL and showed signs of strangulation (Tuft, 1999). In September of 1986, the body of an unidentified female was found murdered in a corn field in Smithton, Illinois. She had been strangled and her pelvic area had been mutilated (Dispatch-Argus, 2008). On July 25th, 1987, nineteen-year-old Kristina Povolish disappeared from Belleville. Her body was found three days later with the cause of death being strangulation and sexual assault (Tuft, 1999). In June of 1988 Audrey Cardenas, an intern at the Belleville News Democrat, disappeared. Her body was found shortly after on the campus of Belleville East High School. She too had been strangled. (Tuft, 1999). On September 27th, 1989 the bodies of pregnant Jolaine Lanman and her three-year-old son Kenneth were found in their home in Belleville. They victims had been strangled, stabbed, and bludgeoned (Busch, 1993).
Were these murders connected? Belleville in the 1980s was considered a generally safe community, but seven people had lost their lives in just over eleven years. The twisted tale I am about to tell you seems like something out of a made for television movie. This is the story of the suspected Belleville serial killer.
Dale Anderson was born November 24th, 1951 in Canton, Ohio. The family moved to Galesburg and eventually Belleville when Dale was still a juvenile. Dale could be described as quiet and forgettable, with many who went to school with him not even remembering who he was (Radford University). Dale attended Illinois State University where he met his wife Linda. They both graduated and became licensed teachers (Busch, 1993). The couple became parents to a son and daughter and settled into a ranch home in Belleville, Illinois.
Dale and Linda both worked as teachers, but Dale grew restless in his career. In 1977 he applied for a position with the Illinois State Police but was rejected (Radford University). He took jobs at insurance companies, but those positions didn’t last long due to misconduct and strange behavior (Busch, 1993). In the last seventies, Dale’s behavior became increasingly strange and secretive as he continued to apply for positions in police departments including the Fairview Height Police Department and Belleville Police Department. He was not hired in any of those positions. He frequently told people he was an undercover operative with law enforcement. (Radford University)
Eventually, Dale Anderson secured a position in law enforcement. He worked as a Sherriff’s Deputy at the St. Clair County Jail from 1978-1979. He was hired under a federal program that ended after one year, ending his time in law enforcement (Radford University). His position at the jail was not of an officer but more of a jailer per author Alva Busch (Busch, 1993). He was not allowed to carry a gun and had very little power in this position. When the program ended, Dale found work at the Illinois Department of Public Aid, but often told distant family and friends he was an agent of the Illinois Bureau of Investigations (Radford University).
Dale worked at the Illinois Public Aid office during the 1980s and seemed to be successful in this position until around 1987. At that time, clients began to complain that Mr. Anderson didn’t return calls and his work performance showed signs of declining quality. He is accused of telling clients to falsify documents to get more aid than they were entitled to. His erratic behavior continued in to 1988 when he was showing signs of aggression at work and hostility with his supervisors. (Radford University)
The problems came to a head in May of 1988 when his supervisors at the public aid office attempted to counsel him on his behavior. Anderson made a police report claiming his supervisors had physically assaulted him, threatened him, and stolen money from him (Radford University). The supervisors, Maurice Vale, Robert DeLaria, and Charlotte Kroupa were arrested, but the charges were later dropped due to lack of evidence (Busch, 1993). At this point Dale is enraged with his supervisors and believe they paid off the police officers to have the charges dropped.
In June, Dale reached out to the Belleville News Democrat and told them the story of his supervisors being arrested and the dispute between them (Radford University). The story ran on 6/4/1988 and was written by Carolyn Tuft (Busch, 1993). On 6/7/1988 Dale was arrested when Carolyn Tuft told authorities that during an interview regarding the story, Dale had showed her a gun and she felt threatened (Busch, 1993). Dale told Alva Busch that he was upset with the Belleville Police Department for confiscating his weapons after the charge (Busch, 1993). Anderson told a friend of his, who was a police officer, that on 6/9/88 his supervisors had taken shots at him and were trying to kill him. It is suspected that Dale staged the scene. (Radford University) After this allegation, he was put on administrative leave pending discharge from the public aid office.
On June 11th, 1988 Audrey Cardenas arrived in Belleville, Illinois to pursue her dream of becoming a journalist. She was a recent graduate of Texas A&M and was now an intern at the Belleville News Democrat (Waller, 2018). Dale would later tell investigators that Audrey Cardenas was interviewing him for a story about his supervisors and the illegal schemes he was privy to, but stated that the supervisors had threatened to kill her if she published the story (Busch, 1993). There were no witnesses or evidence to substantiate Anderson’s claim except a letter written by a friend of his young daughter. This letter said that she had been at the house when Audrey was speaking to Dale and heard her mention the threats from Kroupa, Vale, and DeLaria. However, this witness told investigators that no such thing happened, but Dale Anderson had asked her to write the letter (Busch, 1993). On June 19th, just 8 days after starting her new job in Belleville, Audrey Cardenas disappeared after jogging near the Belleville East High School (Busch, 1993). While she was missing, Dale Anderson called the Belleville News Democrat and reported that his supervisors had kidnapped Cardenas and gave his supervisors’ home addresses. (Radford University)
On June 26th, 1988, the body of Audrey Cardenas was found on the campus of Belleville East High School in a dry creek bed (Radford University). The body was decomposing, making the cause of death difficult to determine. It was reported that the most likely cause of death was either strangulation or having her throat slashed (Busch, 1993). While the scene was taped off, a transient from California entered the crime scene, drawing immediate suspicion. The man was Rodney Woidtke. Rodney was a paranoid schizophrenic with serious mental illness. However, he confessed to the murder despite some noted inconsistencies in his details of the crime (Busch, 1993).
In the meantime, Dale Anderson inserted himself again and again into the investigation of Cardenas’ death. He attended her memorial service at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital and told other mourners including Cardenas’ father that he was a special investigator in the case (Busch, 1993). He continued to imply to anyone who would listen that his supervisors were responsible for the woman’s death (People V. Anderson, 1992). Anderson was arrested 7/13/1988 for impersonating a police officer in the Cardenas case (Radford University). He was briefly considered a suspect, but upon Rodney Woidtke’s arrest, the investigation dropped.
In August of 1988, Dale Anderson’s employment was terminated by the Illinois Department of Public Aid due to insubordination and misconduct (Radford University). Anderson continued to create documents to support his vendetta against his supervisors and contacted various authorities including the FBI to redirect the investigation of the murder to his now former supervisors. However, most law enforcement agencies disregarded him. On August 24th, 1989, Rodney Woidtke was convicted of the murder of Audrey Cardenas despite very little evidence to support he conviction. His sentencing hearing was scheduled for September 28th, 1989. (Radford University)
On September 27th, 1989, John Lanman returned home from work only to find that the door to his home was locked, which was unusual. His wife Jolaine Lanman was an expectant mother and stay at home mom to their three-year-old son Kenneth. John entered his home with his key to an eerie silence. He looked around the home for his wife and noted their afghan on the floor beside their bed. When he lifted the afghan, he found Jolaine’s dead body with a black handled pair of scissors protruding from her neck. In a panic, John ran to his son’s bedroom but did not find the boy. He returned to his bedroom and looked under the bed. That is where he found his three-year-old son lifeless.
Dr. Raj Nanduri completed the autopsies on Jolaine and Kenneth Lanman and determined the cause of death for both to be blunt force trauma to the head and stab wounds to the neck. (People v. Anderson, 1992). Jolaine’s body had a rope around her neck, indicating she had been strangled as well (Busch, 1993). John Lanman was questioned, and his clothing was confiscated for evidence. After thoroughly investigating Mr. Lanman, he was ruled out as a suspect. He not only had an alibi, but there was no forensic evidence to connect him and the man seemed genuinely distraught. (Busch, 1993).
While questioning the neighbors of the Lanman family, investigators uncovered some vital information regarding a blue Oldsmobile that had been seen by multiple witnesses and left the area shortly after the time the crime would have occurred. One neighbor, an eleven-year-old girl, was able to provide authorities with the license plate number because she had memorized it while watching the strange vehicle in her neighborhood. The car belonged to Dale Anderson. Police immediately began staking out the Anderson home that Wednesday evening. (Busch, 1993). After Linda Anderson and her children returned home that evening, the house went quiet. No one left the next day and the windows were all covered with cardboard. Without a search warrant, the officers stayed in place and did not attempt to enter the home. Friday morning, when a search warrant was obtained for Dale Anderson’s handwriting, is when it was time for police to enter the Anderson home.
But why would they want his handwriting? Next to Jolaine’s body was a note that read “A woman and 2 men hit me they called each other croupa, Bob Dlarry and Vael. They bragged about killing ardrey cardenas. There IL LPN CRX15 and KDH 221” (Busch, 1993). In Busch’s book, Deadly Deception, he explains that the LPN language was familiar to law enforcement and meant license plate number. The license plate numbers referenced in the note were consistent with Dale Anderson’s supervisors. (Busch, 1993).
Early in the morning of September 29th, 1989, officers entered the home of Dale and Linda Anderson by force after all knocks went unanswered. They found the children were safe but very scared as they were escorted to the police station. Linda and Dale’s bedroom door was locked, but eventually the two opened the door and came out of the room. The search warrant for Dale Anderson’s handwriting was executed. He refused to go to the station, but Linda willingly went to find her children and give her statements. Linda remained very cooperative throughout the investigation. (Busch, 1993).
Dale Anderson, sitting as his kitchen table, told the investigators about his troubles at the public aid office and suspicions of his former supervisors. He openly discussed his frustration with the Belleville Police Department and aggravation from having his guns taken away. He seemed to enjoy the attention given to him by investigators and liked to frequently change the topic of conversation to exert control. As the day passed, more evidence against Dale was being collected and the search warrant would soon include Dale’s property.
A woman who lived nearby the Lanman family claimed that a man fitting Dale’s description came to her home on September 20th to tour her home, which was for sale by realtor. She said after letting him in she felt scared and threatened by him and that he kept insisting to see the crawl space. She felt very uneasy, but a friend same over for a beer and Dale quickly left at that time (Busch, 1993). Another neighbor, who’s home was also for sale, claimed a man fitting Dale’s description came to her home on the day of the murders. He requested to come in and look at the home, but the lady felt uneasy and denied his request. (Busch, 1993). Jolaine and John Lanman’s home was also for sale at the time of the murder.
The evidence found in Anderson’s home included several items that raised suspicions and helped to secure the indictment. Among these items were suitcases with gloves, rope, and weapons including knives and brass knuckles inside, multiple newspaper articles regarding the disappearance and murder of Audrey Cardenas and other women killed in the area including the Jane Doe in Smithton and Kristina Povolish, paddles, guns, and an ID card written in Spanish and belonging to Jorge Cardenas (Busch, 1993). There was also a letter that was apparently written from Charlotte Kroupa’s prospective about her coworkers, Vale and DeLaria, wanting to kill her for speaking up about the Audrey Cardenas murder and the corruption in the public aid office. However, the note was written in Dale Anderson’s handwriting. What was not in Dale’s handwriting, however, was the note found by Jolaine Lanman’s body. It was determined that Jolaine wrote the note, but misspellings were consistent in that note and the notes written in Dale’s handwriting. Investigators determined Jolaine had been forced to write the note prior to being killed. (Busch, 1993). On September 29th, 1989, Dale Anderson was formally charged with the murders of Jolaine and Kenneth Lanman.
Dale Anderson was tried in Chester, IL, after a change in venue was granted due to intense media coverage. He and his attorneys made multiple attempts to have his statements and the evidence seized from his house excluded but were unsuccessful. Dale even claimed physical abuse from the police officers, but his examination during booking at the jail did not support this (Busch, 1993). Jurors were not allowed to know that Jolaine was pregnant at the time of her murder. Despite this, Dale Anderson was convicted of first-degree murder on April 17th, 1990. He was sentenced to life in prison. (Radford University).
After Dale Anderson’s conviction the story didn’t stop. Carolyn Tuft, who previously interviewed Anderson for the Belleville News Democrat in 1988, had transferred to the St. Louis Post Dispatch and was interested in investigating the involvement of Anderson in Audrey Cardenas murder. “Carolyn Tuft never felt like Woidtke was it” Audrey’s mother stated in 2018 referring to the investigation. An article in the St. Louis Post Dispatch in 1999 pointed the finger for the murders of Cardenas, Jany, Povolish, West, and the Jane Doe at Dale Anderson (Tuft, 1999). Robert K. Ressler, former FBI profiler, provided a theory that Dale Anderson was a serial killer responsible for the deaths of all the women (Skrivan, 1999).
The articles in the St. Louis Post Dispatch bring forth circumstantial evidence that supports Ressler’s serial killer theory including the proximity of the murders, each woman’s body was moved from abduction to where the body was discovered, very little forensic evidence in all cases suggested a well-organized killer, and Dale Anderson had newspaper clippings related to most of the cases. (Skrivan, 1999). According to Carolyn Tuft’s article, she visited Dale in prison, and he said, “These cases and a lot of other cases you don’t know about are connected” (Tuft, 1999). However, he denied involvement and instead claimed that his supervisors were responsible for all the murders. He also claimed to have photos of all the victims before and after they were murdered and had the ID card of the Jane Doe victim, but claimed he had this information because he investigated the murders as a member of law enforcement (Tuft, 1999).
Rodney Woidtke was able to have his conviction vacated in 2000 on the basis of ineffective assistance of counsel. He was later re-tried but acquitted of the murder of Audrey Cardenas in 2001 (Northwestern University). Woidtke returned to California after leaving IDOC but was arrested in California for attacking a man with a bicycle chain (Gauen, 2016). He was eventually released and lived out the rest of his life in an assisted care facility in California. He died in 2014 from natural causes. (Gauen, 2016). Cardenas’ mother Billie Fowler states she does not believe Rodney killed her daughter and believes Dale Anderson is responsible (Gauen, 2016).
In 2008, the mystery of the Jane Doe found in Smithton in 1986 was partially solved. Her body was exhumed and positively identified as Pholia Mylia Chavez. Pholia was a twenty-eight-year-old drifter from California in 1986. The woman was known as a drifter and not a resident of the Southern Illinois. The case of her homicide has never been solved. (Dispatch-Argus, 2008).
Gregory Bowman had been convicted for the murders of Elizabeth West and Ruth Ann Jany and sentenced to two life sentences in 1979. However, twenty years after his arrest the convictions were overturned when evidence was presented that a police officer admitted to reporter Carolyn Tuft that he had planted a jail house informant to coerce Bowman’s confession, which was the primary evidence against him at trial. (People V. Bowman). Although his sentences were vacated in 2001, he remained in jail awaiting retrial until 2007, when he posted bail. At that time, Belleville investigators sent DNA to the St. Louis County police department to test it against another crime, the murder of Velda Rumfelt who was sexually assaulted and murdered in 1977 (State V. Bowman, 2011).
Gregory Bowman’s DNA matched the DNA found on Velda Rumfelt’s underwear. Rumfelt had been strangled and raped, with her bra stuffed in her mouth. Bowman was convicted of first-degree murder in Missouri and sentenced to death after multiple witnesses claimed Bowman had once held knives to their throats and attempted to sexually assault them. (State V. Bowman, 2011). However, the death penalty sentence was overturned on appeal, as evidence about the Illinois murders was presented during the sentencing phase of the trial. (Hahn, 2011). Gregory Bowman died of natural causes at age sixty-four in a Missouri prison in 2016. (Fox 2 Now, 2016)
As of today, Dale Anderson continues to reside in the Illinois prison system, housed at Pontiac Correctional Center. Linda divorced Dale shortly after his conviction and neither her nor the children are in communication with Dale. Dale Anderson may very well be a serial killer, but the lack of evidence in these cases leaves many questions unanswered. Did Rodney Woidtke have anything to do with Audrey Cardenas murder? Did Gregory Bowman kill Elizabeth West and Ruth Ann Jany? Was Dale Anderson the monster responsible for all these deaths? We can only hope that in time evidence will come to light that will solve these mysteries once and for all.
Busch, Alva (1993) Deadly Deception; Pinnacle Books; Kensington Publishing Corp.
Illinois Department of Corrections; Retrieved at: Offenders (illinois.gov)
Fox 2 Now (2016) 64-year-old convicted killer dies in Missouri prison; 64-year-old convicted killer dies in Missouri prison | FOX 2 (fox2now.com)
People V. Bowman (2001) Retrieved at: People v. Bowman, Gregory - Rec'd 12/20/02 (illinoiscourts.gov)
Gauen, P. (2016) Rodney Woidtke, key figure in high-profile Belleville murder, completes sad life; St. Louis Post Dispatch; Retrieved at: Rodney Woidtke, key figure in high-profile Belleville murder, completes sad life | Pat Gauen | stltoday.com
Skrivan, L. (1999) Serial Killer?; St. Louis Post Dispatch; Retrieved at: 21 Feb 1999, Page 8 - St. Louis Post-Dispatch at Newspapers.com
Northwestern University; Bluhm Legal Clinic: Center on Wrongful Convictions; Rodney Woidtke; Retrieved at: Rodney Woidtke, Center on Wrongful Convictions: Bluhm Legal Clinic, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law
Hahn, V. (2011) Death Penalty overturned in 1977 killing of teenager in St. Louis County; St. Louis Post Dispatch; Retrieved at: Death penalty overturned in 1977 killing of teenager in St. Louis County | Law and order | stltoday.com
Dispatch-Argus (2008) Mystery solved: Body found in Illinois 22-years ago ID’d as Californian; Retrieved at: Mystery solved: Body found in Illinois 22 years ago ID'd as Californian | Latest News | qconline.com
State V. Bowman (2011) Retrieved at: STATE v. BOWMAN | FindLaw
Tuft, C. (1999) Anderson also thinks murders are linked- but not to him; St. Louis Post Dispatch; Retrieved at: 21 Feb 1999, Page 10 - St. Louis Post-Dispatch at Newspapers.com
Pistor, N. (2009) Gregory Bowman guilty of capital murder; St. Louis Post Dispatch; Retrieved at: Gregory Bowman guilty of capital murder | Law and order | stltoday.com
People V. Anderson (1992) Retrieved at: People v. Anderson, 237 Ill. App. 3d 621 | Casetext Search + Citator
Radford University; Dale Anderson; Retrieved at: Microsoft Word - Anderson, Dale - 2005.doc (radford.edu)