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2000 Okonski,Cora A 4-16-2000; Tama
Topic Started: Mar 31 2007, 10:37 PM (1,273 Views)
oldies4mari2004
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http://www.charleyproject.org/cases/o/okonski_cora.html

Cora Ann Okonski


Above: Okonski, circa 2003


Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

Missing Since: April 16, 2000 from Tama, Iowa
Classification: Endangered Missing
Date of Birth: March 1977
Age: 23 years old
Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian female. Brown hair, blue eyes. Okonski may use the last name Miller.


Details of Disappearance

Okonski was last seen at her residence in Tama, Iowa at 9:00 p.m. on April 16, 2000. She was living with her fiance, Tait Otis Purk, at the time and working as a waitress, having moved to Tama from Chicago, Illinois about a year before her disappearance. Purk stated that Okonski borrowed $5 to buy cigarettes and left their home, walking westbound on 5th Street, and never returned. He reported her missing on April 18.
The couple had planned to marry in May 2000, the month after Okonski disappeared. She left her young child behind in Purk's care; her family says it would be uncharacteristic of her to abandon the child.

In September 2003, in response to a tip, investigators conducted an extensive search of a rural farm on Iowa Highway 21 near Irving, Iowa in Tama County and a salvage yard in Irving. The farm is owned by Purk's cousin and she may have been at the property the night before she vanished. Authorities were looking for Okonski's clothing and jewelry and other items which might point to her whereabouts. They collected some articles of clothing and bone fragments but the evidence did not resolve Okonski's case and they stopped searching in October.

Purk is currently incarcerated on federal drug charges and is not being called a suspect in his girlfriend's disappearance. A former boyfriend of Okonski's is also in prison for assault, and Okonski herself was a suspect in narcotics, domestic violence, and burglary cases at the time she disappeared. Her case remains unsolved. Her family believes she is deceased.



Investigating Agency
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Tama Police Department
641-484-3223



Source Information
The Des Moines Register
KWWL News
The Child Seek Network
WHO TV
The Tama News-Herald and the Toledo Chronicle
The Iowa Channel
The Waterloo Cedar-Falls Courier
The Hunting Pictures Gallery



Updated 1 time since October 12, 2004.

Last updated May 24, 2005.

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WHERE IS CORA ANN?
Disappeared From Tama 10 Years Ago

By John Speer, Editor
POSTED: April 22, 2010 Save | Print | Read comments | Post a comment Photos
Cora Ann Okonski and her infant son Austin, before her mysterious disappearance from Tama 10 years ago. The se photos were culled from 100s in Tama Police Department evidence files.




TAMA NEWS-HERALD - Cora Ann Okonski was last seen in Tama on April 16, 2000 - she was reported missing to Tama Police two days later, on April 18, at 12:20 p.m. by Tait Otis Purk. He is described in police reports as her live-in companion and known as the the man she planned to marry. She hasn’t been located in the 10 years which have gone by. Cora Ann would be 33-years-old now.

Her two-year-old son, Austin, lived with her at the time she vanished. He has been in the care of relatives since, police said.

Tait Purk told police that about 9 p.m. on the evening of April 16, Cora Ann borrowed $5 from him, walked west on 5th Street in Tama and he never saw her again.

Even as a “cold case,” finding out what happened to Cora Ann remains especially important to Tama Police Detective John Carr. Asked how often it’s on his mind, he replied, “Daily.”

“I want to solve this before I retire from the police force,” Carr said.

Police Chief Dan Wilkens confirmed each time Carr and he review incident cases, Carr promptly brings up Cora Ann. Wilkens said despite the 10 years which have gone by, “It remains a very active case.” Okonski is the only person the Tama department has reported as missing.

Currently, they said Carr has “one more set of interviews to clarify some new statements which have surfaced in the community.” They said this gives them “ the hope of new information or direction.”

In addition, what they described as another plan to follow this spring exists, of which they can’t divulge details.

Ask Help From Public

As before, Tama Police continue their appeal for additional public assistance. They said anyone who knows anything they believe relates to the case should contact them. They believe Cora’s family deserves closure and her son needs to know what happened to his mother.

Police and Cora’s family conceded as early as 2003 they believe Cora Ann is dead. She was 23-years-old at the time of her disappearance.

“Cora chose a dangerous lifestyle,” Carr said because of her reported “involvement in the drug culture.” While in Tama, police said she also was listed as the victim of two burglaries involving assault with intent.

Police records show Tait Purk and Cora Ann Okonski sometimes had a stormy relationship with both reporting threats from the other.

Purk, now age 43, is currently serving a federal prison sentence on drug-related charges police said.

In 2003, Purk, who was in jail awaiting trial, said he “cooperated with police and reported everything he knew in 2000,” The Cedar Rapids Gazette reported from a telephone interview with him.

At the time of her disappearance, there was an active warrant for Okonski’s arrest on a charge of failure to appear for a pre-trial conference. This stemmed from an original malicious prosecution charge.

Cora Ann’s adoptive father, Jerry Okonski, who lives in a Chicago suburb, did not return a telephone call last week seeking comment. In a 2003 telephone interview with The News-Herald he said the family “is convinced she is dead.”

At that time he said, “Cora Ann is the kind of girl who would maintain contact with us at all times when she was away from here.” In 2003, he said, “If somebody killed her, we hope they would be brought to justice.”

“We want to fine her body or remains and have a proper burial.”

Police records show a friend of Cora Ann’s expressed surprise she would abandon her son. Both Jerry Okonski and police acknowledge Cora Ann received Social Security disability payments and she stopped claiming them after the April 16 date which was also out of character.



http://www.tamatoledonews.com/page/content...-.html?nav=5006

Fact Box
•Contact Police:
If you remember anything related to the disappearance of Cora Ann Okonski or know of some information which you think could be helpful in determining her whereabouts, contact Tama Police - 641-484-3223 or your local law enforcement agency.

•Not On Missing Persons List
Cora Ann Okonski was described as age 23, Caucasian female. brown hair, blue eyes. when she disappeared 10 years ago. She would be 33 years-old now.
She does not appear on the Missing Persons List because there was an active warrant for her arrest at the time of her disappearance.
Her name was on the list for a short time in 2000, but Tama Police removed it in accordance with state policy governing the listing.
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Tait Purk tells of day Cora Ann Okonski disappeared in Tama
Says Report Of “Borrowing” For Cigarettes Was Not

By John Speer, Editor
POSTED: June 11, 2010 Save | Print | Email | Read comments | Post a comment
Photos
Tait Purk

Fact Box
TAMA POLICE ASK FOR HELP
If you have any information in the missing person case of Cora Ann Okonski :
CONTACT TAMA (IOWA) POLICE-----
641-484-3223
305 Siegel
Tama, IA 52339

TAMA NEWS-HERALD -Tait Otis Purk has written details of that April 16 day 10 years ago when his girlfriend Cora Okonski, vanished in Tama. She has not been heard from since and Tama Police and her adopted father in Illinois fear she is dead, the result of foul play.

In a Letter to the Editor, Purk, 43, disputed a detail of a recent account of the last time he said he saw Okonski. The news story appeared in the April 22 issue of The News-Herald and marked the 10th year the then 23-year-old woman went missing from Tama.

Purk wrote “The article says that Cora “borrowed” $5.00 from me. This is not true and I am upset that being stated in the article that way. I will tell you about this day and you can go verify what you want.”

Instead, Purk says, in part, the following is what happened: “She left and came back about five minutes later with a writing tablet and went in the bedroom and was writing for a little bit than she came out to the living room and asked “Do you have any money.

"I said for what, she said she needed smokes and I gave her 6-7 dollars for her to get us both some.

“I watched her walk up 5th St. and she never came back. That is what I see when I think of her.”

The account of “borrowing five dollars" was based upon various news accounts and internet reports but no attempt was made to check this account with Purk.

In his Letter to the Editor, he says he and his family cared for Okonski’s two-year-old son Austin whom was left in his care after she didn’t return on April 16.

He also tells of his efforts to locate Okonski.

“I went everywhere I could think of her being the next day and everyone said she never came over to anyones house.” Purk wrote he went to work that night and left a note telling Okonski her son was in his family’s care.

He also wrote that he tried later called to see if she was in jail and was told to contact police.

“Everything after that has been a nightmare. A lot has happened in my life. I ain’t going to say what I’ve been through over all this. This isn’t about me.

“I just don’t like it when things are taken out of context. I have never given up hope that everyone gets answers most of all Austin she loved him and he her.”

Purk wrote the letter dated May 27 from the federal penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kan., where he is serving a sentence for conviction on drug related charges. He is scheduled to be released in 2017.

It was received at the News-Herald office on June 2.



Purks' letter in its entirety:

May 27, 2010

Mr. Spears,

I am writing to you about the article in the paper “Where is Cora.”

I would tell you for the most part the article was done well. But I do take issue with it stating I said something that i didn’t say. I want you to please go and verify what I state to you and you may print any of it you wish.

The article says that Cora “borrowed” - $5.00 from me. This is not true and i am upset that being stated in the article that way. I will tell you about this say and you can go verify what you want.

It was palm Sunday as they call it, and everything was fine. Cora said she was going to go up to the church with Austin and she said she would be right back. I though this as weird because she never went to church any other time. But she is a Catholic I guess as her family are also. The church is one block from our house. She goes and when she comes back she had some branches from a plant long and skinny. She put them on the wall and we stated talking about things and I said to her we wait for a while in getting married. She got upset and said she was going for a walk.

She left and she was gone all day and came back late in the afternoon 6 or 7. I stayed at the house all day with Austin and I cleaned the house and watched movies and took care of Austin. She didn’t say much of anything she showered and said she was going to the neighbors house for a second.

She left and came back a few minutes later with a writing tablet and went into the bedroom and was writing for a little bit than she came out to the living room and asked “Do you have any money.”

I said for what, she said she needed smokes and I gave her 6-7 dollars for her to get us both some. I watched her walk up 5th St. and she never came back. That is what I see when I think of her.

I went everywhere I could think of her being the next day and everyone said she never came over to anyones house. That was Monday.

I went to work in Grinnell that night 2nd shift and Austin was at my familys house. I left a note on the door telling her where Austin was and the note was still there when I got home.

When we got up I called to see if she was in jail or to find out if they could check in Marshalltown and I was told to go to the police station and report it that she left and I had Austin.

Everything after that has been a nightmare. A lot has happened in my life. i ain’t going to say what I have been through over all this, this isn’t about me.

I just don’t like it when things are taken out of context. I have never given up hope that everyone gets answers most of all Austin she loved him and he her.

Thank you

Tait Purk

Leavenworth, Kan.



http://www.tamatoledonews.com/page/content...ed-in-Tama.html
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Cora Ann Okonski


Above Images: NAME , circa 2000


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance



Missing Since: April 18, 2000 from Tama, Iowa
Classification: Missing
Date Of Birth: N/A
Age: 23
Height: N/A
Weight: N/A
Hair Color: Brown
Eye Color: Blue
Race: White
Gender: Female
AKA: Cora Miller


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Details of Disappearance
Okonski was last seen at her residence in Tama, Iowa at 9:00 p.m. on April 16, 2000. She was living with her fiance, Tait Otis Purk, at the time and working as a waitress, having moved to Tama from Chicago, Illinois about a year before her disappearance. Purk stated that Okonski borrowed $5 to buy cigarettes and left their home, walking westbound on 5th Street, and never returned. He reported her missing on April 18. The couple had planned to marry in May 2000, the month after Okonski disappeared. She left her young child behind in Purk's care; her family says it would be uncharacteristic of her to abandon the child. Purk is incarcerated on unrelated federal drug charges and denies knowledge of Okonsk's disappearance. Her family, from Oak Lawn, Illinois, believes she is deceased.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Investigating Agency
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Tama Police Department
(641) 484-3223

http://www.nampn.org/cases/okonski_cora.html
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http://www.timesrepublican.com/page/...id/505543.html

TAMA — Friday, April 18 was the eighth anniversary of the reported disappearance of Tama resident Cora Ann Okonski. She was missing two days earlier, on April 16, 2000, before police were notified.

What she left behind in Tama was her then 2-year-old son Austin who fears for her safety along with her friends. According to detective John Carr this is “the most important case the Tama Police Department has open today.”

Police are skeptical she is alive and her stepfather in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park told The News-Herald four years ago he also feared she was dead.

But the effort to discover exactly what happened to Okonski is still very much alive.

Police said Monday their emphasis “remains on determining the whereabouts and well being of Okonski to bring closure for her family, particularly her son, Austin, who now is a young man who deserves to know where his mother went and why she is not with him.”

Police continue to seek people who knew her in an effort to establish biographical information about her prior to her disappearance which could aid in the investigation.

Okonski was 23 when she was last seen. She had worked at the King Tower Cafe on Highway 30 on Tama’s east edge as a waitress for a time.

Police said she was engaged to Tama resident Tate Otis Purk. It was Purk came to the police station to report her absence that day eight years ago. Since then policed said he was sent to federal prison on drug and weapons charges with a scheduled release date in February 2017.

Police continue to say “Okonski’s apparent high-risk lifestyle choices also increase (the) likelihood that she may be a victim of accident, misadventure or homicide.”

Okonski does not appear on the Iowa Missing Person List because there is an active warrant for her arrest. She failed to appear as a witness in a court case. Persons cannot appear on both “wanted” and “missing” lists at the same time, police said.

Anyone with any information related to Okonski is urged to contact Tama Police at 641-484-3223 or any local law enforcement agency.
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Search for clues continues in Tama County missing person case

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Search for clues continues in Tama County missing person case

JESSICA MILLER, Courier Staff Writer wcfcourier.com | Posted: Tuesday, September 30, 2003 12:00 am | (0) Comments

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IRVING - Multiple law enforcement agencies this morning continued a search of a rural Tama County residence looking for clues in a missing person case that is three years old.

The Tama Police Department, Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and four other agencies began examining residences at 3440 and 3430 Iowa Highway 21 near Irving late Sunday. Authorities said the effort is connected to a woman who disappeared from Tama in April 2000, according to a press release from Tama police.

Cora Okonski, who would be 26, has been missing from Tama since that time. She was originally from Chicago and had reportedly only been living in Tama County for a short time.

Her boyfriend, Tait Purk, 37, of Tama, reported her missing on April 18, 2000.

Investigators are searching the rural residence of Don and Nancy Purk. Don Purk is Tait Purk's cousin. The couple lived in the home at the time Okonski went missing.

"The occupants of the location have been cooperative with the investigation," according to the release.

The police department placed an ad in the Tama newspaper in mid-September that led to the tip about the residence.

"It was a reminder that we're working the case, and anybody with information, please give us a call," Tama Police Chief Dan Wilkens said this morning.

Tait Purk is currently being held as a federal prisoner for charges related to manufacturing methamphetamine. He was indicted in August for conspiracy to manufacture meth, possession of pseudoephedrine and being a felon and user of a controlled substance in possession of a firearm.

Wilkens, who just took his oath of office Monday, worked late Monday night and was back at 3 this morning.

"A long first night," he said.
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Police find bones, clothing at Tama site

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Police find bones, clothing at Tama site

JESSICA MILLER, Courier Staff Writer wcfcourier.com | Posted: Friday, October 3, 2003 12:00 am | (0) Comments

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TAMA - A lead in a missing person's case has turned up bones and woman's clothing at a rural Irving residence.

Law enforcement officials combed a salvage yard and surrounding property for four days hoping to find clues that would bring them to Cora Okonski. Okonski, 23 at the time, disappeared from Tama three years ago.

Despite what was found, Tama Police Chief Dan Wilkens said he is still calling it a missing person's case.

"No one has used the term murder investigation," Wilkens said.

The bones and the clothing were sent to the Division of Criminal Investigation labs in Des Moines. Wilkens said it is not known whether the bones are human or if the clothing was Okonski's.

Wilkens said the time needed to test the items will depend on the crime labs schedule.

Officers examined the property of Don and Nancy Purk who live outside Belle Plaine on Iowa Highway 21. The Purks are related to Tait Purk, Okonski's boyfriend at the time she went missing.

Tait Purk filed a missing person report in April 2000.

The police department published an appeal in a local newspaper Sept. 18 requesting information on Okonski's disappearance. Information from members of the community prompted the search warrant , according to the police department.

The lead was a result of tireless effort on the part of Tama police officer John Carr, Wilkens said.

"He is a good investigator. He is a good officer. He took the original call and he is just refreshing (the case)," Wilkens said.

Okonski disappeared from Tama shortly after domestic assault charges against Tait Purk were dismissed.

According to court records, Purk had been charged with assault against Okonski in December 1999.

A no-contact order was also put into place at that time, but Purk and Okonski filed to cancel the order. In March of 2000 the case was finally dismissed.

Purk is currently being held as a federal prisoner on methamphetamine charges.
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http://wcfcourier.com/news/metro/article_5...0c9b6ab090.html
BREAKING: Tama searching farm in death investigation

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BREAKING: Tama searching farm in death investigation

Posted: Wednesday, September 22, 2004 12:00 am | (0) Comments

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TAMA - The Tama County Sheriff's Office announced today that is it seeking evidence relating to a death investigation.

The Sheriff's office and the Department of Criminal Investigation are searching a rural Tama County property and said they would release more information at the conclusion of the investigation.

The press release did not disclose the exact location but said they were searching an abandoned farm south of Tama and that owners were cooperating. It also did not say whose death was being investigated.

The investigation is not related to the disappearance of Cora Okonski who vanished in 2000, said Tama Police Chief Dan Wilkens.

In that case authorities searched a rural Irving property nearly a year ago hoping to lead them to the woman who disappeared at the age of 23.

Bones found on the property were determined to be animal bones.

Okonski remains missing.
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http://cbs2iowa.com/news/local/man-charged...ounty-cold-case

Man charged with murder in Tama County cold case
by Kevin GlueckFriday, December 9th 2016

TAMA COUNTY, Iowa (CBS2/FOX28) — A Tama County man is now charged for the 2000 disappearance and murder of Cora Okonski.

The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation arrested 50-year-old Tait Otis Purk after a grand jury returned a true bill indictment of him.

23-year-old Okonski was reported missing in Tama by her boyfriend in April of 2000. Investigators ruled that her disappearance was not voluntary and reopened the case as a homicide in November.

Okonski's ex-fiance, Purk, had long faced police scrutiny since he was with her the night she disappeared and the two had a volatile relationship. Purk has said he told Okonski he wanted to put off their wedding date earlier the day she disappeared and that she became upset. Purk has denied involvement, telling police that Okonski never returned home after walking to the store to buy cigarettes.

He's in federal prison on unrelated drug and gun charges, and is scheduled to be released in April.

Purk is charged with first degree murder.
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http://www.thegazette.com/subject/news/pub...county-20170319

News Track: Trial in 2000 Tama County cold case murder moved to Iowa County
Tait Purk accused of killing fiance Cora Okonski
Trish Mehaffey The Gazette
Mar 19, 2017 at 7:00 am

BACKGROUND

A 2000 disappearance of a Tama woman was investigated as a missing persons case until November, when investigators said additional evidence points to homicide.

Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation officials said in a news release Nov. 10 that through “interviews and additional discoveries,” the disappearance of Cora Okonski, 23, on April 18, 2000, was being reclassified. A multiagency law enforcement task force reviewed the cold case and concluded that Okonski’s disappearance was “not voluntary.” The case was reopened in March 2015.

Tait Purk, 50, Okonski’s fiancé, was indicted Dec. 2 for first-degree murder. He is accused of “willfully, deliberately, and with premeditation” killing Okonski between April 16 and 18, 2000.

No criminal complaint has been filed in this case to provide further details of what authorities believed happened during that time to the Tama waitress and mother of Austin, who was 2 years old at the time.

WHAT’S HAPPENED SINCE

Back in 2003, while serving time on federal drug charges, Purk told The Gazette in a phone interview from the jail that he wasn’t a suspect in Okonski’s disappearance and he feared for her well-being.

During this time, Purk told investigators Okonski borrowed money from him to buy cigarettes on April 16, 2000, and never returned home.

Authorities, based on a tip from a police informer, said they conducted an extensive search of a rural farm in September 2003 on Iowa Highway 21, nearing Irving, and a salvage yard in Irving. The farm belonged to a relative of Purk’s. Authorities said they were looking for clothing, jewelry and other items that might lead them to Okonski. Police later said bone fragments found there were from an animal.

The couple had a stormy relationship over the years and court records show Purk was charged with domestic assault against Okonski in December 1999. A judge placed a no-contact order against him. The order was lifted in March 2000, and they made plans to marry that year.

In 2010, Purk wrote a letter from federal prison to the Tama News-Herald in response to an article about Okonski’s disappearance.

He said in the letter that days before she had become upset with him when he told her they should wait to marry.

Purk said in the letter he looked for her after she disappeared and never gave up hope.

Purk pleaded not guilty and remains in the Tama County Jail on $1 million bail pending trial. He was already serving time in the U.S. Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kan., for manufacturing methamphetamine and firearm charges. He was transferred to Tama County in December after being indicted.

In January, through his attorney, Purk asked for the court to move the trial out of Tama County based on pretrial publicity. His lawyer argued he couldn’t get a fair and impartial jury there.

Earlier this month, the prosecution agreed and 6th Judicial District Judge Mitchell Turner moved the trial to Iowa County District Court, beginning May 1.

This week, Purk wrote a letter to the judge over concerns about depositions taken in the case. Court documents don’t elaborate on his concerns and the judge took no action on it.

A court order shows Purk was to be released from Leavenworth in April. He was transferred to Iowa in December, so it’s unclear what will happen if he’s convicted in Okonski’s death. He may have to go back into federal prison and complete that term before starting any Iowa sentence.
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http://www.tamatoledonews.com/page/content...k.html?nav=5006

New murder trial set for Tait Purk
August 21, 2017
By John Speer - Editor Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

A new trial has been set in Tama County District Court in Toledo for Tait Otis Purk, 51, accused of 1st degree murder in the case of his fiance Cora Ann Okonski.

A telephone conference between District Court Judge Mitchell E. Turner, Purk, his attorneys, Aaron Siebrecht and Scott Hunter, and prosecutors Assistant Iowa Attorney General Laura Roan and Tama County Attorney Brent Heeren was held on Friday, Aug. 18.

In an order filed on Monday, Judge Turner ruled Purk's right to a speedy trial was back into effect and set the trial for Nov. 6 at the Tama County Courthouse.

On Aug. 14, Judge Turner set aside an Iowa County Jury's verdict which found Purk guilty. The 10-day-long trial had been moved to Marengo on a change of venue and held in May of this year.

Turner questioned some of the credibility of the prosecution witnesses in the ruling.

Roan and Heeren have not indicated yet whether they will seek to challenge the judge's decision to throw out hte jury verdict.

Purk, 50, was indicted by a Tama County Grand Jury on Dec. 2, 2016, accused of killing his fiance, Cora Ann Okonski, in Tama in 2000.

She was reported missing to police from the residence Purk and she shared on Palm Sunday, April 16, of that year by Purk on the following Tuesday, April 18.

Okonski, then age 23, nor her remains, have ever been found.

The cold case was reopened by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, the Iowa Attorney General and Tama County Attorney offices, Tama Police and Tama County Sheriff's Office in 2015.
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