‘Deadly Women: Souls of Stone’ on Investigation Discovery tells the stories of three women who brutally murder individuals in order to achieve their goals. A housewife named Lucille Hooper, sometimes known as Iva Kroeger, was the subject of one of the instances. She had aspirations of starting her own company and taking over her friend Mildred Arneson’s motel in Santa Rosa, California. In the months of December 1961 and January 1962, she killed the elderly proprietor and her ex-husband. She sought to elude justice by acting out in court, which is included in the episode along with her tragic antics. Here is what we know if you’re curious to learn more about the case, including what ultimately happened to Iva.
Who Was Iva Kroeger?
In Kentucky, Lucille Hooper was born in 1922 to day labourer William Hooper and Norwegian immigrant Zellma Hergis. Although little is known about her early years, her lengthy criminal history dates back to 1945, when she was taken into custody in Chicago. A young woman was allegedly walking around purporting to be a military hero, according to an anonymous tip to the authorities. Lucille boasted that she was a Navy nurse who had made it out alive after spending time in a Japanese POW camp.
The War Department, however, could find no record of such a person, and Lucille was accused of illegally donning a military nurse’s outfit. Records show that after entering a guilty plea, she immediately broke the terms of her probation by escaping to the West. Lucille left her Louisville-based husband, their two sons, and her former self in her wake. According to reports, she piled up numerous misdemeanour stealing charges under various names.
Paula Marie Pearson, Lucille Cecelia Huffman, Paula Mydel Byrd, Paula Shoemaker, and Lucille Cooper are just a few of the many identities that Lucille has used. But after meeting and wed San Francisco native Ralph Kroeger in 1954, she finally decided on Iva. Bill collectors routinely gathered at the Kroeger home at 490 Ellington Avenue in San Francisco’s Outer Mission because it was always in the red. The couple moved into a low-cost motel in Santa Rosa in November 1961 under the guise of Eva and Ralph Long in order to escape their creditors.
Another cheap motel, the Rose City Motor Court, was located across the street from their new home. Iva started enquiring about the motel’s availability for sale. She made friends with the elderly woman, a 58-year-old nurse called Mildred Arneson, and her ex-husband, Jay, after discovering the owner was not wanting to sell. He resided on the same farm and was a soldier of World War One who was battling Parkinson’s illness in its advanced stages. The episode said Iva was particularly persuasive and engaging.
The fraudster became friendly with the Arnesons and even persuaded her new acquaintances that she had just won $100,000 in an accident claim. Iva informed Mildred that she intended to use the funds for an all-girls trip to Brazil, and Mildred gladly accepted her invitation. The latter grabbed more than $1,000 in traveler’s checks and sent a letter informing her mother in Washington that she would be leaving the country for a while. But as the weeks turned into months, her family started to worry when they stopped hearing from their daughter.
Police from Santa Rosa discovered Iva as the Rose City Motor Court’s new owner when they arrived. She informed the responding officer that Mildred gave her the deed just before she left on a trip. Iva even told the policeman that, to her knowledge, the 58-year-old was taking a lengthy vacation in Mexico. Jay Arneson had also vanished by this point. He, Iva, and their two pals allegedly travelled by car to San Francisco in late January 1962.
How Did Iva Kroeger Die?
The group stopped by Iva’s previous Ellington Avenue residence, where she asked for assistance with minor plumbing repairs in the garage, according to the episode. They continued on their way to a local hospital for Jay’s doctor visit after one of them dug her a big hole in the floor. Iva accompanied him inside the medical facility and afterwards told her waiting friends to go without them. They were informed that Jay’s appointment with the doctor might take longer. The friends left him behind and returned to Santa Rosa.
On August 20, 1962, the police carried out a search warrant at Iva’s home on Ellington Avenue, some eight months after Mildred vanished. On the light blue garage floor, they found two uneven, grey patches, and dug them to find Jay’s body first. The belt that was used to strangle the corpse was still wrapped around his neck. Mildred’s body was hidden under the other patch and was packed into a trunk. She had also died from a choking incident. Authorities issued two murder warrants and one for assault in relation to an evading Iva.
The story claimed that Iva had drawn a gun on a water company representative who had visited the motel a few months previously demanding payment for delinquent bills totaling about $4,900. He claimed that an enraged Iva threatened to kill him by brandishing a gun. Two days later, when the police searched for her, they came across her two grandsons walking the streets of Oakland. Iva had lately turned up at their door after years of absolutely no touch, the officers discovered when they escorted them to their parents.
Iva was observed at a San Diego church on September 9, 1962. The following day, she was ultimately apprehended in San Diego, where she was going by the name “Julia Schmidt.” She allegedly sought refuge in a house under her new name, but the family recognised her from a police poster and alerted the FBI. Although he insisted he was unaware of the bodies, her ex-husband Ralph was detained almost immediately after they were found.
Both defendants testified during their well reported trial in January 1963, insisting they were innocent and disputing the majority of the damaging evidence presented against them. Iva began acting theatrically after realising she would be found guilty in order to strategically prepare the groundwork for her cunning plan to plead not guilty based on insanity. Nevertheless, she was examined by three psychiatrists appointed by the court, who gave testimony that she was completely sane at the time of the crimes.
According to one of the psychiatrists who testified, “She lies with ingenuity, cruelty, wickedness, cool calculation, and evil conduct and intent — like a devil.”Iva and Ralph were found guilty by the jury after over two months of courtroom drama. The latter passed away from cancer in 1966 at Folsom Prison. Iva was given parole in 1975 after the court learned that she was losing her sight and had taken up braille as a coping mechanism.
However, after Iva was detained in Cape Coral, Florida, in 1987 for allegedly threatening to kill a man she blamed for the tragic drowning of one of her grand-nieces, authorities quickly learned it was untrue. She was imprisoned, and according to documents, she passed away in a Boston prison in 2000 from cervical cancer.
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