MASON CITY, Iowa (AP) -- Mason City police are interested in whether the abduction of a teen-age Nebraska girl may be linked to the 1995 disappearance of TV anchorwoman Jodi Huisentruit.
Capt. Mike Halverson told The Des Moines Register in a copyright story that Mason City police's interest has been piqued by the disappearance of 17-year-old Anne Sluti, who Nebraska authorities suspect was kidnapped by Anthony Zappa. He remained at large Tuesday, and Sluti was still missing.
Zappa had not been included as a suspect in the investigation of Huisentruit's disappearance, which included many suspects and scenarios, Halverson said.
Authorities believed he was in prison when Huisentruit disappeared, but a records check on Tuesday at the Iowa Department of Corrections showed he had been released.
Zappa, 29, has two cousins living in Charles City, which is about 30 miles east of Mason City. Investigators said he said often stayed with them.
Zappa, also known as Anthony Steven Wright, pleaded guilty Jan. 23, 1995, to a string of burglaries at Mason City and in the surrounding area.
Floyd County Attorney Marilyn Dettmer said Zappa used a handgun in the burglaries.
Zappa was sentenced to 15 years and placed in the Oakdale prison Jan. 24 for processing, state documents show. He was released April 4 while his case was appealed to the Iowa Supreme Court.
Huisentruit disappeared June 27.
Zappa was readmitted to Oakdale on Sept. 1 after the Iowa Supreme Court rejected his appeal. He was placed on parole March 5, 1999.
Zappa is wanted in Iowa and four other states for car thefts, assaults and weapons charges. A search for him prompted police to shut down the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., last month after he was spotted there.
Zappa fled to Minnesota after a shootout March 14 at a farm in Floyd County, Iowa. Sheriff Rick Lynch said authorities chased him for 12 hours.
Investigators said they did not have a motive for last week's kidnapping of Sluti, which they believe was random.
Some similarities exist between the Sluti and Huisentruit cases, Halverson said.
-- Police found Sluti's purse and some personal belongings scattered near her car in a shopping center parking lot in Kearney, Neb. Huisentruit's belongings were found near her car in the parking lot of her apartment complex.
-- Both incidents appeared to be hasty abductions.
-- Kearney authorities said witnesses told them a man approached Sluti as she was walking toward her car, struck her in the head and forced her into a stolen minivan. The vehicle was found Sunday in Colorado without a trace of Zappa or Sluti. Witnesses in Mason City said they saw a van in the early morning hours near Huisentruit's apartment complex when she disappeared.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.