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Searching the Waters: Duo travels to Sioux City searching for cold case answers

KMEG Sioux City logo KMEG Sioux City 1/14/2021 Vivian Rennie

There are an estimated 250,000 unsolved violent crimes nationwide and one duo is on the hunt to help bring answers to some of them. 

Adventures with Purpose started about a year ago and has helped bring answers to families all across the nation. 

"We are Adventures with Purpose. We are a search and recovery team we travel the country trying to solve as many cold cases as we can," said co-founder Sam Ginn. 

The team has amassed nearly 900,000 subscribers on youtube and an average of 18 million views a month. This viewer base not only helps fund them but has supported them across the country on their adventures.

Equipped with their "mobile command camper", a trailer full of gear, and underwater recovery experience Jared Leisek and Sam Ginn trekked nearly 1,500 miles across the country to Siouxland.

"We are actually working on three cold cases," Leisek said along the banks of the Missouri. "One from 2005, one from 1961, and then the other one is over in Moville, but there was some connection to Sioux City with a casino that is no longer here."

The cases of Helen Kelly, Thomas Doughtery and Dale Robinson all have been open for years and they all have one theme in common. Not only is the person missing, but their vehicle is missing, too.

"These are the cases we take on, where the vehicle is missing, the individual is missing and there is water nearby," Leisek said. 

For the Sioux City Police Department, two of these cases are still open and investigators follow any leads that may come in, no matter how long it has been. 

"In cases of missing persons, such as Mrs. Kelly and Mr. Doughtery, they will forever be in the NCIC (National Crime Information Center) and should someone come across their vehicles, should someone come across human remains, that could be these individuals that would trigger some sort of response," said Sioux City Police Sergeant Jeremy McClure.

Adventures with Purpose has helped to solve 4 cold cases in the past year, including the case of Ethan Kazmerzak, an Iowa man who was missing since 2013 all by finding a vehicle.

a truck is parked on the side of a road © Provided by KMEG Sioux City
Caption: INTERVIEW: Searching the waters: Duo travels to Sioux City searching for cold case answers

"First, we get the boat in the water," Leisek said. "We have two different sonar set-ups on the boat, but then with that, if we locate anything, you know, our idea superpower is we can get under the water, we can breathe like fish, we are divers."

Leisek and Ginn put their small blue boat in the Missouri Wednesday morning. One of their first stops was a car that had recently gone over the riverbank and in the water. They also searched the area for signs of any other vehicles, especially those that could have belonged to Keller, Daughtery and Robinson. After two hours on the Missouri Wednesday morning, they returned.

We did not find anything. We found a lot of sand bars for sure.

For rescue teams and divers, the Missouri is a tough river to search. Leisek explained that their sonar devices showed images of hills of sand 5 feet tall across the bottom of the river. 

"After all the floods, there is still a lot of sand, a lot of trees, a lot of different debris down there and so sometimes it makes recovery very difficult," McClure said. When Sioux City Police need to search the water, they rely on Sioux City Fire Rescue and other area professionals to assist. 

Even without a find in the river, this team continued to search for any clues in bodies of water around Sioux City, but their time here was limited.

"Today is actually the first of our 30-day road trip. We are starting here in Iowa," Leisek said. " We are going to end up over in Kentucky. We are going to be down in Kansas. We are wrapping up in Texas 30 days from now and on that, we have 18 more cold cases that we are going to be working and we hope to solve at least one more cold case."

Even without the duo from Adventures with Purpose, the search for answers will not stop for local authorities.

"We constantly go back, look at those old cases, and see, is there something new, is there something that we are missing is there someone we haven't talked to," McClure said. 

"We appreciate people bringing additional resources but we constantly encourage people, if there is something you know of or possibly heard of please report it, let us know," McClure said. "You might have that missing piece that helps solve a case that is years old."

If you'd like to follow Adventures with Purpose, you can find them on Facebook and on YouTube. 


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