Former QC resident suspect in 2004 murder of 74-year-old woman

Local News

A 34-year-old former Quad-City man is a suspect in the murder of a 74-year-old woman – a homicide considered a cold case until his arrest last year.

Nathanial Ridnour, formerly of Milan and Coal Valley, is behind bars in Lee County Jail in Montrose, Iowa. He is a suspect in the murder of Bonnie Callahan on or about June 14, 2004, in Keokuk, South Lee County, Iowa.

The murder

Court documents say after Callahan was killed, her body was dumped in the Mississippi River to conceal the crime. The autopsy revealed signs of blunt-force trauma.

She recently had undergone knee surgery and could not walk by herself to the river without the assistance of her walker, which was found in her apartment on that date.

An argument with Ridnour

Ridnour had confronted Callahan about his relationship her granddaughter, court documents say.

When investigators spoke with him, Ridnour said only he could “just not remember killing her” and “I didn’t mean it or want to hurt anyone.”

He said he went to Callahan’s apartment to “make things right.”

“Ridnour made statements that he was a suspect in Callahan’s death before having any contact with law enforcement,” an affidavit says.  

Immediately, after initial contact with law enforcement, Ridnour told a witness he “needed to get out of town” because he was a suspect.

He also told a witness about his fingerprints potentially being in Callahan’s apartment.

“Ridnour fled back to Coal Valley, Illinois, and never returned to Keokuk, Iowa,” the affidavit says.

A former friend remembers

A former friend who wants to remain anonymous remembers when Callahan lived in Coal Valley and Milan when he was younger, and that he went to Moline High School then joined the military. The friend told Local 4 News the last time they spoke was in 2015.

A murder becomes a cold case

No arrests were made during the initial investigation, court records say.

Interviews of Ridnour’s father, Richard, indicate he could have been an alibi witness for his son, because he told police his son stayed with him the evening of June 14, 2004.

“There is no definitive indication the elder Ridnour checked on his son during the night,” documents say. Richard Ridnour died in 2011.

New evidence

“Not until 2018 did law enforcement have any new information that could assist in their investigation,” court documents say.

Special Agent Joe Lestena, of the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigations, took over as lead investigator in 2017. Lestena interviewed Bobbi Jo Keener, a former girlfriend of Ridnour, in February 2018.

Keener called Ridnour four times over two days while she was with law enforcement and had her cell phone on speaker. The conversations were recorded.

Lestena and the Lee County attorney decided they had enough evidence, after recording text messages and phone calls, that a murder charge finally could be filed.

Ridnour was booked into Lee County Jail on May 5, 2020, and continues to be held there on a first-degree murder charge while court processes continue. No trial date was listed Monday in court records.

Criminal history

Local 4 News also has learned Ridnour is listed on the Iowa Sex Offender Registry. In 2013, when he was 26, he was convicted of telephone dissemination of obscene material to minors, a case involving a girl age 13 or younger.

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