Looking Back: Man killed his wife in a stairwell of the Sioux Falls JCPenny department store in 1957 – Argus Leader

Jodie Bob Crook led a restless, delinquent existence that culminated in the murder of his wife, June, in the back stairwell of the Sioux Falls JCPenney in 1957. June’s family feared that she’d meet her end at his hands. Her mother thought it was just a matter of time.
Before they met, Jodie had spent time around the country, moving from state to state, getting in trouble here and there. He got probation for burglary in Santa Barbara when he was 14. Four years later he served just over a year in a federal prison for violation of postal laws in Seattle. Then there was a little trouble for disturbing the peace in Los Angeles. He tried serving in the military, but was discharged for bad conduct.
While attending bible school in Dallas, Jodie met June Marie Erickson from Chancellor, South Dakota. The two married and returned to the area. June took a job in sales at JCPenney’s on Phillips Avenue. Looking to provide for his family, Jodie got a job at a service station at 11th and Main on Sept. 1, 1952. The couple had a new baby and were living in Lennox.
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By Sept. 7, Jodie’s restlessness had taken over: He grabbed about $59 from the register and took off driving east in a customer’s car. He was caught in Rock Rapids less than an hour later and was charged with transporting a stolen car over state lines, a violation of the Dyer act. He was sentenced to three years in federal prison, which was served in Terre Haute, Indiana. He was released after 26 months.
Upon his release, Jodie returned, but would often go missing. June’s co-workers relayed that she said he wasn’t “the supporting type”. As she could not depend on Jodie, June would live with her parents and bring home a paycheck from downtown department stores.
The couple’s second son arrived in November 1955. After his birth, June began working at Sears. In 1956, during a time when Jodie was around, the family moved to a house on North Spring. But by late June of that year, Jodie’s itchy feet got the better of him, and he moved to Omaha and tended bar. June was pregnant with their third child at the time.
By September, June had had enough of Jodie’s negligence, and filed for divorce, citing extreme cruelty. She asked for custody of their children, household goods, their 1949 automobile, and court fees. A summons was issued to Jodie to appear and answer to the decree. He would receive a default judgment if he did not reply in 30 days. The process dragged on and was delayed for over a year. The divorce was scheduled to be finalized in October 1957.
June and Jodie’s daughter was born in February 1957. In mid-July, after her maternity leave, June took a position at JCPenney, where she had worked before. In September of that year, Jodie showed up in town, acting as if he’d never been away. He reached out to June to try and reconcile before Oct. 12, when the divorce would become final.
He’d been working as a bartender at the Old Timers Bar in Omaha. He showed up at June’s work a time or two, hoping to get her to drop the divorce, but she was steadfast in her refusal. On Oct. 8, he showed up before noon, and found her in the lunchroom on the fourth floor. He grabbed her by the arm and escorted her down the stairs at the rear of the building for a more private conversation.
He later said his goal was to get her to leave with him and go to his hotel room so they could talk things out. When she refused, he pulled a revolver, hoping to shock her into compliance. Instead, he fired three shots, two in the chest and one in the top of her head. She had time to say, “Oh, no, not that.” before falling dead.
Jodie went back to his hotel and paced around in front of it for a time before getting his suitcase and turning himself in at the county jail. He told jailer Marvin Noteboom “I just shot my wife and I better turn myself in before I shoot someone else.”
He was convicted of murder on Feb. 6, 1958, and sentenced to life in prison. He was paroled on March 27, 1973.

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