DES MOINES, Iowa — A Mount Ayr man was arrested Wednesday and charged with first-degree murder in the death and disappearance of a Wisconsin woman whose body has not been found.
James Klever, 46, is charged with Murder in the First Degree for allegedly killing Rachel Reuter, 30, more than four months after she went missing.
"It's been an ongoing case for a long time. Obviously, it started in June. We're now into November, and they just made the arrest," said Lt. Ryan Evans with the Polk County Sheriff's Office. "So it's just been a lot of activity and a lot of different investigators from three different agencies taking part in this case."
Here's what we now know from court documents filed in Polk County.
NOTE: All dates are from 2021
Reuter's father says this is the day she went to stay at Super 8 motel in Urbandale. There is video of both Reuter and Klever at the hotel.
Reuter was also in contact with the Des Moines Police Department on this day. It is not known why she was in contact with DMPD.
Reuter and Klever are seen on video footage walking out of the Super 8 Motel and driving away in Klever's white Hyundai Veloster.
Video footage shows Klever at QuikTrip on 2nd Avenue in Des Moines, where he met a man. Local 5 will refer to this man as M.W. The footage also shows a woman in the car with Klever.
Klever said he last saw Reuter that evening when he dropped her off at a Des Moines apartment. This contradicts what Klever's parents said he told them, which was that he last saw Reuter at QuikTrip.
This was the last time Reuter's father heard from her and the last time she was seen. This is also the last date several of Reuter's friends heard from her via Facebook messenger.
The following cell phone ping location data was collected from both phones that day:
- 9:28-11:04 a.m.: Super 8 motel
- 3:12-3:25 p.m.: 1717 Woodland Ave, Des Moines
- 3:56 p.m.: Altoona Walmart—the last transaction on Rachel’s EBT card was at this Walmart at 3:45 p.m. James was seen on video footage at the Walmart, but Rachel was not.
- 7:01-7:04 p.m.: Near Prairie Meadows/Altoona Walmart
- 7:38-7:42 p.m.: Moving west on I-35
- 8:41-8:45 p.m. and 9:30-9:35 p.m.: Near Super 8 motel
- 9:40 p.m.: 6000 University Ave.
The following cell phone ping location data was collected from both Klever's and Reuter's phones that day:
- 12:30 a.m.: Near 137 Snyder St. in Bondurant, a home owned by a woman Local 5 will refer to as P.L.
- 3:32 a.m.: The last documented communication on Rachel’s phone is to Lyft, but there were no records of her requesting a ride.
P.L. told police that sometime that morning, Klever came running into her house asking for help. According to P.L., James said a woman did some drugs and "went crazy."
P.L. said she heard what sounded like a wild animal in her garage and was scared. She knew this woman was Reuter because Klever had mentioned her earlier, according to court records.
P.L. told Klever to leave and get the woman out of the garage, but Klever said he didn't know what to do with Reuter and that she wasn't moving, according to documents.
Also on this day, M.W. said Klever came to M.W.'s house alone.
Klever arrived at an acquaintance's home in Bethany, Mo. He said people were looking for him, he needed to hide, wanted to hide his white car, asked to put it in their garage, search warrants in the case say.
According to investigators, Klever told the acquaintance he had killed two people, a man and a woman, at a motel.
Investigators said Klever informed this acquaintance that he beat the woman first, then the man and then put both bodies in the trunk of his car and drove them to land owned by his family. He said he then drug both bodies near water and burned them.
The acquaintance said Klever's hand was injured, and when asked what happened., Klever said he couldn't go to the hospital.
Klever had taken his phone apart before coming there but it was still usable, said investigators.
Rachel’s father reports her missing to the Urbandale Police Department, telling them he hadn’t talked to her since June 12.
Her father said it’s “abnormal” for her to go that long without talking to family, and said she went to stay at the Super 8 Motel in Urbandale June 11 and 12.
Klever shows up at his parents' house. His parents said he was walking with a limp and had a broken hand, according to investigators.
June 19 (approximate date)
According to court records, Klever's son tells police Klever had come to his house around this date in the Veloster. The car had “foul odor as if rotten meat was left in it along with a large amount of cologne poured in it."
Klever explained to his son he had killed a woman by first trying to stab her, then hitting her. Klever said this happened in small area which his son said sounded like a garage.
Klever told his son he put the body in the trunk of his car and eventually dumped it at Cainsville Bottoms in Missouri.
Klever's son said Klever had a broken hand/wrist.
Klever was stopped by Ringgold County Sheriff’s Office, driving the Veloster. Reuter was not with him.
A citizen reported finding belongings with Klever's name on it burned in a ditch near Mount Ayr. The burned items included paper with his name on it, electronics and D-rings that matched those on a bag Reuter was seen on video footage carrying on June 11.
Police said these items were burned between June 19 and 21.
“Sometime in June”
Klever's daughter says he came to her house on a motorcycle and asked her to give him a ride to a storage area in Osceola where his white car was located. Klever also has an address registered in Osceola.
His daughter says she dropped him off there and he came back to her house in the Veloster shortly after. She says she then searched Klever's car because her brother had said Klever had stolen something from him. She said the car had a strong bleach smell and there was a small bottle of bleach in the trunk, investigators say.
Klever's daughter said Klever had a broken hand when he arrived and he told her that he had broken it punching a man in the head.
Klever's son denies knowing anything about Reuter but says he has seen Klever a few times in past weeks.
Klever says in an interview that he last saw Reuter on evening of June 12 when he dropped her off at a Des Moines apartment to meet someone she met online who was going to pay her for sex, but police could not verify this.
Klever's ex-wife tells police her son told her he had lied to them when he said he didn't know anything about Reuter. Her son told her that Klever had a woman’s clothing and was trying to give it to the son’s girlfriend and son’s sister.
Klever had also admitted to killing Reuter, according to the search warrants.
He said he tried to stab her but the knife was too dull, so he hit her with a baseball bat. He said the body had been in his car for three days before he disposed of the body in Cainsville, Missouri.
Klever's ex-wife remembered that when they were married, Klever had shown her his grandparents’ property in Cainsville, including a well that he told her would be a good place to hide a body. At the time, she thought that statement was odd.
The property has since been sold.
Klever had also told his son that he had burned the clothing and property along with mail with his name on it, according to investigators.
On this day, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation executed a search warrant on the Velsoter at 137 Snyder St. They found the trunk to be extensively cleaned. Inside the trunk, a trim panel was removed, and inside that, they found hundreds of flies and fly remnants.
Those remnants tested positive for human blood.
M.W. confirms to police he met Klever at the QuikTrip on 2nd Avenue on June 12 to get money for gas. M.W. could not identify Rachel as being in the car.
Klever's son talks to police and changes his story, saying when Klever came to his house on or around June 19, Klever told him he had killed a woman.
Klever also confirmed the details his mom had told police, including that Klever said he put the body in the trunk of his car and eventually dumped it at Cainsville Bottoms.
Police also interviewed Klever's parents on this day. His parents said James told them he could not remember wher he last saw Rachel because he was high on drugs, but that he either dropped Rachel off at QuikTrip or she went with M.W.
This is also when Klever's daughter talks to police and says that at some point in June, she gave Klever a ride to a storage area in Osceola to get his car and that his car smelled like bleach.
A Bethany, Mo. resident tells police Klever came to her house on June 15.
Police execute a search warrant at P.L.'s house in Bondurant. This is when P.L. tells police what happened the morning of June 13.
In an interview with police, P.L. said “some time” went by before she talked to Klever after that incident and he told her bits and pieces of what happened.
She said Klever told her he “drug [killing Rachel] out. Made it last a while."
She said he told her he used one of her tent tarps or motorcycle tarps to wrap Reuter's body and put it in the car.
P.L. said she thinks Klever took Rachel to Missouri. Klever had said he didn’t dig a hole and just left her body in the wilderness.
DCI and the Polk County Sheriff's Office continue to investigate the case. Those who may have had contact with or saw Reuter or Klever in June are asked to call the sheriff's office at 515-286-3334.
Klever is being held at the Polk County Jail on a $1 million cash-only bond for the murder charge and has a preliminary hearing scheduled for Nov. 15.
Local 5 will update this story as more information becomes available.
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