Cedar Rapids PD name suspect in 1971 murder case

Photo: Remembering Maureen Brubaker-Farley Facebook, with family permission

(Cedar Rapids, IA) -- Cedar Rapids police say DNA has helped them identify a suspect in a decades-old murder. Police are confirming George M. Smith, was a suspect in the death of 17-year-old Maureen Brubaker-Farley. Her body was found in September 1971 in a wooded ravine off Ely Road SW. Smith is deceased, so the department says the case is considered closed without prosecution.

Chief of Police Wayne Jerman states, “No matter how much time has passed, our officers are committed to seeking out justice for all victims of violent crime as well as their families. I am extremely proud of the generations of Cedar Rapids Officers that contributed to bringing this once cold case to a resolution. I would also like to specifically recognize the contributions of our current Cedar Rapids Police Departments Cold Case Unit. Those individuals are Investigator Matt Denlinger, retired DCI Special Agent JD Smith and retired CRPD Police Lieutenant Ken Washburn.” 

Maureen Brubaker-Farley moved to Cedar Rapids in the summer of 1971 and worked at a local diner. When Farley hadn’t arrived to work on September 20, her employer reported her as missing. Farley’s apartment was searched and found relatively undisturbed with her vehicle parked in the lot behind the building. At this point there was no evidence to suggest what happened to Farley.

Two teen boys spotted Farley's body September 24th in the wooded ravine just off Ely Rd SW near the landfill, which is now Tate Cummins Park.  An autopsy was conducted and it was determined that Farley had been hit in the head causing a skull fracture which caused her death. Evidence also suggested that Farley had been sexually assaulted.

Detectives had identified a variety of potential suspects but were unable to find enough evidence to charge anyone and the case went cold.

Detective Doug Larison began reviewing this case in 2006, and found evidence appropriate for DNA analysis. Detective Larison began collecting DNA swabs from potential suspects to have those compared to the suspect profile. The suspect profile was also uploaded to the FBI DNA databased known as CODIS. No matches were found through traditional comparison or CODIS.

The police department says by the spring of 2021, Investigators had eliminated more than 15 subjects through DNA comparison. George M. Smith (Born in 1919) was a potential witness, but DNA was not collected because he died in 2013 at the age of 94. Multiple people had said Smith knew Farley from the diner where she worked.

Officers say in the month after Farley's murder, Smith had gone to the Cedar Rapids Police Department asking about the investigation. Smith also ran a hauling service and made trips to the location where Farley's body was found. Smith was interviewed extensively in 1971 but he was not charged. Smith was offered and declined a polygraph at that time.

 A confirmed relative of Smith was identified and a search warrant was written to collect DNA from that relative. The unknown male DNA profile developed from the crime scene and the buccal swabs collected from Smith’s relative were sent to DNA Labs International, in Deerfield Beach, Florida, for advanced analysis and comparison.

The Cedar Rapids Police Department reviewed the results of the and determined that the unknown suspect DNA profile developed in this case was that of George M. Smith. 

Maureen’s mother Mary Brubaker (age 86) of Sioux City Iowa, was notified that the person responsible for her daughter’s death was finally identified.

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