Keokuk True Crime
Where all the previous crimes were generally a monetary or relationship motive induced ordeal, this next one is just plain crazy. What started as a disappearance took on a whole new life as the investigation started.
Crystal meth (methamphetamine) became a scourge among drugs in the mid 80’s and continues today in the Midwest. Unlike pot, hash and other ‘natural’ drugs, crystal is a mixture of toxic chemicals and is highly addictive. It can ruin your health and looks in no time at all and it quickly becomes the most important thing in your life once you become hooked. It was and still is a very popular drug among the working class in Keokuk, mainly among the factory workers. I remember several friends who became totally obsessed with crystal and watched as their lives quickly deteriorated. They lost their jobs, family, possessions and whatever dignity they had in no time at all. Others of course seemed to handle the drug rather well, addicted but seemingly leading a normal life.
With that said, on Wednesday, August 28th, 1996, Velva Green of Keokuk watched as her daughter, 32 year old Theresa Lund and her 6 week old grandson Paul Lund, left to go to the grocery store. They were going to pick just a few items and then return in less than an hour. Theresa was a mother of three other children and was engaged to be married to Terry Bell, who was currently in Indiana where he was employed. Paul was Terry’s son and the infant was a healthy and happy child. Two of Lund’s children lived with their father and one child, 5 year old Tress, lived with Theresa and Paul.
After waiting for several hours for Theresa to come back home from the store, Velva became concerned and started to call friends and relatives trying to locate her daughter. No one had seen Theresa or Paul and Velva became extremely worried that something had happened to her daughter. She called the hospital with no results and finally called the local police station.
The police responded and asked the usual questions about Theresa and her son. They also asked Theresa’s friends and relatives about her whereabouts. A look into other local police records and local medical institutions yielded nothing. The police asked the public for help but that also produced nothing helpful. The police reached a dead end into the investigation almost as soon as it had started.
Then later that evening Theresa’s car was spotted at a local grocery store and the police searched the car and around the immediate area. Theresa’s wallet was found inside the car along with the carseat for the infant. Nothing seemed out of order except the fact that Teresa’s mother said that her daughter would not leave her car and wallet and just disappear. The police found no evidence of foul play, found no clues as to why her car seemed abandoned, watched the car for several hours with no results and then finally released the automobile to Mrs. Green.
During the next few weeks the investigation stalled as there were no leads, no clues and no idea what had become of Theresa Lund and her son Paul. They seemingly had disappeared into oblivion. The police suspected that possibly foul play had occurred but no evidence supported that conclusion, as Theresa was seen to be a good person with no enemies. The possibility of running away was also discussed but also seemed unlikely as she had a home and relatives in the area and no problems were reported with them. Her family seemed very worried and concerned with her disappearance and franticly looked to the police for a solution. The case quickly grew cold as the police ran every scenario into a dead end.
On that same day that Theresa Lund disappeared, Robert Hardy got a call informing him that his wife, Kimmi Hardy had given birth. Robert arrived home and found Kimmi with an infant in her arms. She told Robert that she gave birth to the child in the bathtub and that she was fine. They named their new son Dustin Eugene and settled into family life. This was Kimmi’s fourth child by four different men, she had a daughter and two sons apparently who did not live with her.
That evening some of Kimmi’s friends and relatives came over to her house and celebrated the birth and addition of their new son. One of the guests was wondering why this newborn not a day old looked like a month or more old baby but let it pass. Kimmi was not the most respected woman in town, her past included arrests and drug use, she was accused of selling flour in the bars of Keokuk passing it off as cocaine or meth. People left her little party and it was soon forgotten, until the guest remembered hearing of the missing woman and her baby and actually asked Kimmi about it. Kimmi replied, almost exasperated, that she was shocked her friend would even consider that about her.
Now here is where the title ‘Crystal Lies’ comes into effect, because almost everything else Kimmi told is based on a lie to cover a lie to cover another lie. The truth may never be known, but the story goes somewhat like this. Even Robert’s claims are somewhat shrouded in a fog of delusion and despair.
Somehow Robert found out that there was a dead woman’s body in the basement of the home. Story number one is that the day after the birth he came home, smelled an odor in the basement and upon checking it out discovered the body of a woman, shot twice in the head. Story two has Kimmi telling her husband that she has a new baby, they are extremely happy and fortunate and by the way, there is a dead woman in the basement. Either scenario would be enough for most people to disavow any contact with the perpetrator and contact police and get to the bottom of the crime. Well……
Robert’s discovery of Theresa Lund’s body in the basement was shocking for him he says, he truly believed that his wife was pregnant and had delivered a baby at home. This may seem odd but some acquaintances of Robert put him on the low scale of intelligence and besides, this was his first trip down fatherhood road. So now he has a dead woman’s body in the basement and a wife who claimed to gave birth the same day, plus the news in the media about the missing woman and her child. It is hard to imagine that he did not put two and two together, maybe he did, later actions also point to the fact that maybe he did not. At this point I personally have to say ‘What a dolt’.
What is known for sure is that he gathered the corpse in a blanket, put it in his car and drove to Alexandria, Missouri, where he disposed of the body in a field by the railroad tracks. This he must have done well, for the body was not discovered. He then returned home to Kimmi and Dustin and resumed his role as father and husband.
Newspaper reports at the time tell of a baby shower Kimmi held for her new son, they don’t tell when the shower occurred, if this was the gathering the night of the so called birth or sometime later is not known. Regardless, a baby shower was celebrated and guests were there at the Hardy household to greet the new mother and son. One of the guests saw the child and immediately saw that this was not a newborn child and remembered the news articles on the missing Lund woman and her young child. After a few hours of thinking about it, wondering if this could possibly be the missing child, she contacted the police.
Police accepted the report and began an investigation of Kimmi Hardy. Looking at her past, they saw she was in her third marriage, she had just recently married Robert some 5 months earlier. Kimmi is the mother of a daughter, 18, and two sons age 15 and 12, none of whom live with the mother. She seemed to be on the outer fringes of the crystal meth trade in town, often selling flour to unsuspecting users to raise money, most probably for her own drug use. Her neighbors reported she claimed she was pregnant that summer, wearing maternity clothes but not really looking pregnant, and were very surprised when she claimed to have given birth in August. Most striking in the investigation was a report of a tubal ligation performed on Kimmi some 10 years prior, which made the possibility of pregnancy almost 1000 to 1 against a successful contraception. They also found out she bought a .38 revolver from a local gun dealer on July 31 and asked if it was “enough to kill someone if they were shot in the head” Armed with this information ,they decided to visit Kimmi and her husband Robert to clear things up. It did not go well.
On September 18, 1996, armed with a search warrant, the police and detectives arrived to question the Hardys about their new son. Kimmi was cooperative, claiming to be a happy mother and showing no discomfort at having the police asking these questions. The investigators told the Hardys that their son ‘Dustin’ would need to be taken to the hospital to verify his correct identification. Kimmi could not produce any thing that supported her claim that the child was in fact hers, no birth certificate, nothing. At this point the Hardys became upset with the investigators at their house and started to argue with them. Robert advanced on the police brandishing an iron pipe and was subdued and arrested for assault. He seems to seriously believe that at this point his rights as a parent were being trampled on. Given the circumstances between him, his wife, the dead body in the basement and now the police at the door, he was either in very deep denial or just plain ignorant.
The police transported the whole crew of Hardys down to the police station, separating the baby from the parents and delivering him to the hospital. The footprint check on the child was compared to the missing Lund child and showed it matched perfectly. Also photographs of the child were compared and also a match was declared. So now the police investigators had solved the disappearance of Paul Lund. Now they would ask Kimmi and Robert Hardy for their version and the whereabouts of Theresa Lund.
Faced with the discovery that the child was not hers, Kimmi started the elaborate and sometimes crazy alibis that were to become standard in the next few months. If she had any sense whatsoever, she should have just clammed up, answered no questions and called a good lawyer, but that was not the case. She started to tell one story, and when that didn’t pan out, she would start another one and so on. The detectives and county attorney listening to this must have been smiling ear to ear behind poker faces as this woman incriminated herself and twisted the truth into a pretzel.
What was the story you may ask ? Story number one goes like this… Kimmi and her husband at the time, Gary Drummond, lived with a man in Louisiana named Anthony Matrana in 1981 for a short time. Kim claims to have been a ‘mule’ for Matrana, hauling drugs around the country for him, and being paid for it. She claims that on August 28, she answered her door to two Mexican individuals who Hardy claims worked for Matrana. The two Mexicans asked her to leave the house for awhile. She claims when she came back home, they had a baby for her. Next came a phone call the next day from Matrana stating that the two Mexicans had run into a few ‘problems’ that she would have to take care of. She claimed he told her to look in the basement and to keep her mouth shut. She claims to becoming hysterical at seeing the body. She said she feared that Matrana would cause her and her family harm so she told no one. When investigators asked why would this man Matrana murder someone and then give the baby to her, Hardy’s response was that he knew she was wanting a baby real bad.
Story number two; Similar to story number one except that she claimed to be pregnant and miscarried. Her old drug buddy Matrana called her on the phone and said he heard she wanted a baby, and said that for $1,500 he would provide a child for her. She claimed she had no idea that her ‘old pal’ Theresa Lund would be rubbed out in the meantime. The rest follows the Mexican story and so on
Story number three… Also similar to one and two, she alleges that she wanted a child a paid $3000 to ‘someone’ who wound up murdering Lund and providing her with the baby.
The police asked the obvious question, ‘How can we get in touch with this Matrana fellow’, she said she did not know how to reach him. She said that he may be living in Florida but was not sure. Acting on that, the police started searching for the mystery man named Matrana. Looking through the database of criminals and known felons in Florida produced nothing, yet a few matches were made nationwide and further investigation was continued.
Meanwhile, Kimmi was arrested for kidnapping and Robert was held for assault. Further questioning resumed still without a lawyer present and no objections from the accused. Finally Robert broke down and said he knew where Teresa Lund was located and took the investigators to a location across the Des Moines river into Missouri and showed them where he had disposed of the body. Investigators then identified the body as Lunds and also located the gun used to shoot Teresa in the head. After this revelation, The Hardys were charged with first degree murder.
This was a bad enough situation to be found in, but for Kimmi Hardy it was only to get worse. While looking into Kimmi Hardys past and examine anything they could, authorities discovered that she had a stillborn infant in October of 1993. Again, she claimed to have a baby after her tubes were tied making the claim of getting pregnant almost nonexistent. Police started searching this angle and they along with the public were shocked at the outcome.
In 1993, Kimmi was married to Wendall Smith, he relates that she was pregnant that summer and fall, she had a big belly, suffered morning sickness and wore maternity clothes. On October 15, Kimmi and Wendall went to Iowa City at the University Hospitals and Clinics, and Wendall waited in a waiting lounge while Kimmi saw the doctor. After waiting about 45 minutes a call came into the waiting room asking for Wendall. He answered the phone and a woman told him that Kimmi had delivered a baby boy but the boy had been stillborn. Kimmi then returned and told Wendall that the boy was dead and that she had made preparations for the baby to be cremated. They returned home and later on Kimmi produced a box that she said had been sent to her containing the baby’s ashes.
Wendall was veteran of the armed services and he had the right to be buried in a National Cemetery along with his wife and his minor children. So in late 1993, Zachary W. Smith, son of Wendall and Kimmi Smith was interned at the Keokuk, Iowa National Cemetery. A full funeral was held and some 30 people attended.
So now the police investigators started to look into this birth and of course red flags popped up immediately. There appeared to be no known birth record or death record for a Zachary Smith on October 15, 1993 or any date in September, October and November of that year. Hospital records also showed no records of any birth to Kimmi Smith in Iowa City, she was not listed as a patient at any time in 1993 or under the care of any physician in the University records. Police now reached out to Wendall Smith and asked him the details of the birth. As mentioned, he believed her to be pregnant and believed that she miscarried or had a stillbirth. He said he never saw a birth certificate or a death certificate and never looked in the urn carrying the remains of his child. Police asked for and received permission to open the grave of his son to examine the remains.
The investigators gathered at the National Cemetery and watched as the grounds crew unearthed the grave. They pulled a cardboard box out of the ground and upon opening the box discovered a blanket and a stuffed teddy bear. No ashes, no remains, no stillborn child. Upon hearing the news, Wendall said that at the funeral they had a preacher and a good crowd who thought they were laying to rest his son. He said that now, “I really feel like an idiot, burying a cardboard box”. The grave and headstone were removed from the cemetery. When asked how the National Cemetery could bury a person without a death certificate, it was noted that a death certificate is not always needed, just the relationship between the veteran and the person being interred, and the veterans papers proving service in the military.
Back to the Lund murder and kidnapping, Robert Hardy either wised up or listened to his lawyer and struck a deal to testify against Kimmi. In exchange he received 10 years in prison. He claimed he came home, thought he had a new son, and then was informed of the dead body in the basement, shot in the head by his wife. He said he got rid of the body and the gun and kept quiet out of fear of arrest.
Kimmi on the other hand was put on trial and even testified, tearing up and still claiming that she did not kill Lund. She stuck to her incredible story that she bought the child from the Matrana individual. And as a side note, Anthony Matrana did eventually show up, working as a baker in Louisiana, his criminal record showed one driving offense in 1977, and he commented that he had “Never heard such crazy stuff in all my life, she has got to be insane to say some of the stuff she said”.
After all that, Kimmi Hardy was given life in prison.
In 2009, Terry Bell, who was Theresa Lund’s fiancee at the time of her murder, died in a head on crash on the Hiway 61 bypass outside Keokuk. The young boy, Paul Lund, has been raised by his mother’s relatives since the murder, kidnapping and trial.