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Encyclopedia Dubuque


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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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Edward Bartels

BARTELS, Edward. (Dubuque, IA--East Dubuque, IL, July 11, 1960). The son of Mr. and Mrs. Roy Bartels, Edward attended Nativity Grade School and graduated in 1944 from DUBUQUE SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL. A four-sport star at Dubuque Senior High School, he participating in wrestling, basketball, track and football. As a football player, he played all three years at Senior, helping the Rams to the Mississippi Valley Conference Championship in 1943. As a center for the team, he was selected co-captain, received Senior’s Gold Athletic Award, and was named first-team All State. (1)

From 1944 to 1946 he served in the Navy as a hospital corpsman. He then entered the University of Iowa's medical school and received his degree in 1953. He did his internship at Fresno County Hospital, in Fresno, California before returning to Dubuque to open his practice. The cold-blooded murder of the Dubuque physician and father led to the execution of Victor Harry FEGUER.

On July 11, 1960 Dr. Bartels answered a call at his residence on Indian Ridge for help at about 7:30 p.m. He was asked to come to 1134 Locust to treat a "critically ill Mrs. Stevens." At 10:00 p.m. a "low voiced man" called Mrs. Bartels and said her husband would be remaining at the address overnight while a specialist was being contacted. A clerk at a nearby drugstore reported overhearing the conversation. (2)

It is believed the abductor met Dr. Bartels at Locust Street, got into the doctor's car, and forced him to drive to 1004 Bluff. A neighbor identified two men matching the doctor's description and a composite picture of a "Mr. Newman" entering the building. When the two men left the building, they were walking very quickly. This neighbor thought no more of the scene until police conducted a house-by-house investigation the following day. Among the items found in the room was an unemployment claim report in the name of Victor H. Feguer and a rent receipt for a site on Garfield Avenue with the same name. (3)

Iowa Highway Patrol and private planes were used to search the Dubuque area on July 12th. (4)

Composite sketch that led to the arrest.

Another break in the case occurred on Thursday when a Dubuque used car salesman reported that a man calling himself "Sam Newman" had tried to purchase a car on Friday of the previous week. "Newman" had said he wanted a 1955 model car on the lot and showed him a personalized checkbook in the name of Victor H. "something or other." His description of "Newman" matched those given by a Dubuque landlady and witnesses who saw the man Bartels was walking with on the last night he was seen alive. (5)

On July 19th a state kidnapping charge was filed against Feguer, age twenty-five, of St. John, Michigan. Police Chief Percy Lucas stated that he would ask the Federal Bureau of Investigation to make a federal charge of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. There was still no known motive for the crime. (6)

Feguer and another man later identified at Jack Hale of Birmingham, Alabama were arrested on July 20, 1960 in Birmingham by F.B.I. agents after attempting to sell Bartel's automobile. Salesmen became suspicious of the two and asked them to return to the car lot in an hour. They then called authorities. (7) Hale admitted that Feguer had stolen the car from a Dubuque doctor. The F.B.I charged that Hale accompanied Feguer from Gary, Indiana to Grand Rapids, Michigan and then to Birmingham. Hale waived his right to a court-appointed attorney and plead guilty to the charges of the interstate transportation of a stolen car. (8)

Dr. Bartel's body was found in a field ten miles east of Dubuque the day after Feguer and Hale were arrested. (9)

On July 25th a federal court in Birmingham order Feguer returned to Iowa to face a federal grand jury after being mentally evaluated for not more than forty days. (10) On July 26, 1960 he was committed to the U. S. Health Center in Springfield, Missouri. (11) On August 9, 1960 he was indicted by a federal jury. (12)

Feguer initially plead nolo contendre (no contest) to the kidnapping and murder charges and refused to talk to a court appointed attorney. The judge stated the court would not accept such a plea after which Feguer plead not guilty. Feguer later worked with his attorney in his defense. (13)

Feguer's trial was set to begin January 9, 1961 in Waterloo. (14)

It was later stated during his trial that Feguer, seeking a general practitioner who would be likely to carry morphine or demerol, chose his victim from the phone book. Bartel's name had been the first listed. Feguer drove Bartels into Illinois where he shot the doctor and stole his car.

Feguer's appeal was rejected by Harry Blackmun, then a federal appeals court judge in St. Louis and later a member of the United States Supreme Court. His appeal was also denied by President John F. Kennedy.

The cast of characters involved in the arrest and prosecution of Feguer included Clarence Kelley, the agent in charge of the Birmingham, Alabama FBI office was later promoted to head the agency. (15) In Birmingham, Feguer was represented by Hugo Black, Jr., the son of a U. S. Supreme Court Justice. Black was appointed by the court when Feguer stated he had no money to retain counsel. Feguer received local legal representation from Waterloo attorneys during his trial. (16)



1. "Dr. Edward Roy Bartels," Find A Grave. Online: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=12285449

2. Ney, Jim. "Report Few Clues to Disappearance," Telegraph Herald, July 14, 1960, p. 1

3. Ibid. p. 4

4. "Planes Join Search for Missing Dubuquerer," Telegraph Herald, July 12, 1960, p. 1

5. Ibid. p. 1

6. "Clear Way for Entry of FBI," Telegraph Herald, July 19, 1960, p. 1

7. "Suspect Held in Waterloo," Telegraph Herald, July 21, 1960, p. 6

8. "Federal Judge Orders Feguer Back to Iowa," Telegraph Herald, July 25, 1960, p. 1

9. "Feguer Enters Innocent Plea," Telegraph Herald, September 1, 1960, p. 4

10. Ibid.

11. "Feguer's Mental Tests Held in Top Government Hospital," Telegraph Herald, August 7, 1960, p. 1

12. "Indict Feguer for Kidnapping," Telegraph Herald, August 9, 1960, p. 1

13. "Feguer Enters Innocent Plea," Telegraph Herald, September 1, 1960, p. 1

14. Shively, Neil. "Set Feguer Trial Jan. 9 in Waterloo," Telegraph Herald, October 16, 1960, p. 1

15. "Suspect Held..."

16. "Feguer to Get Local Counsel," Telegraph Herald, July 22, 1960, p. 9