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Despite living in different states, Tom Mather and his cousin Katherine Mather-Siegel were close growing up, Katherine told Dateline. She and her family lived in Michigan while Tom’s family lived in Springdale, Iowa.
“He was the older cousin who would go out and make sure we all had a good time. He would take us out for ice cream and take us out on the town,” Katherine told Dateline. “He would be the bright light and would make the trips fun for us.”
Katherine told Dateline that in 1991, 32-year-old Tom had a full-time job working on the University of Iowa’s maintenance staff. She said he was well liked at work, and known for being an all-around good guy.
“He was a guy who just went to work, had lots of friends and just did not get into any trouble,” Katherine told Dateline.
On September 30, 1991, Tom and his wife Dawn Mather were having dinner together in their living room when everything changed. Dawn would later tell police that, around 8:40 p.m. a man came to the door of their home.
“A man was standing there with a gun and a rope in his hand. He came in — assaulted them both,” Katherine told Dateline.
Special Agent Ryan P. Kedley with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation confirmed that a man broke into the Mather residence, asked Dawn to remove her clothes, and then tied up both her and Tom.
Somehow, Dawn was able to free herself from the ties while the intruder was still in the house. She escaped the house and ran to a neighbor's house where she called police.
About 20 minutes after the man had entered the Mather home, officers from the Cedar County Sheriff’s Office arrived at the residence. Tom had been fatally shot. The killer was nowhere to be seen.
“Tom Mather suffered both multiple sharp force wounds as well as a single gunshot wound to the head,” Special Agent Kedley told Dateline. He said Dawn reported the intruder as a 30-year-old white male with a slender/medium build who was around 6 feet tall.
“I was in Chicago moving apartments when I got a phone call from one of my cousins,” Katherine recalled about learning of Tom’s murder. “It was really shocking. And it was really devastating because he was a really important member of our family.
A neighbor would later tell police they saw a light-colored car in the Mather's driveway on the night of Tom’s murder, Special Agent Kedley told Dateline.
Special Agent Kedley declined to comment on whether Tom or Dawn were sexually assaulted, or if DNA evidence was collected at the scene. He also declined to comment on whether the killer left behind any items, or if anything had reported missing from the Mather home.
According to an article in the Cedar Rapids Gazette from September 30, 1992, Dawn received a $42,500 payment after claiming her husband’s life insurance in June of 1992.
In the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Tom’s mother, Mildred Mather, supported Dawn and said she and the rest of Tom’s family do not think she was connected in his death.
Special Agent Kedley did tell Dateline that Dawn Mather is considered a person of interest in Tom’s death, which is classified as an open cold case.
Katherine said she is disappointed there have been no arrests on the 27th anniversary of her cousin’s murder.
“Everyone felt the loss hard,” Katherine told Dateline. “He didn’t have any enemies and that's why it was more shocking. “
“As the Iowa statute of limitations does not expire with regard to homicides, we, the Iowa DCI and the Cedar County Sheriff’s Office, continue to follow up and pursue all leads on the investigation and are optimistic a resolution can be achieved,” Special Agent Kedley told Dateline.
Tom was killed in his home in Springdale, Iowa on September 30, 1991. If you have information related to Tom’s murder, please contact the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation Major Crime Unit at (563) 284-9506.