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S1 / EP01: Todd Mullis "The Corn Rake Murder"

Updated: Feb 6, 2021

This case is a tragic example of how jealousy and greed can ruin an entire family. I came across this case by seeing some of the recorded trial online and it really resonated with me, mainly because of the innocuous location (rural Iowa) as well as the utter disbelief how some people go to extreme and often violent lengths to protect what they believe is rightfully theirs. If you get a chance, it's definitely worth watching any or all of the videotaped trial online.

 
Todd and Amy Mullis

Check out our INSTAGRAM for additional photos related to case!

 

Transcribed EP01: Todd Mullis "The Corn Rake Murder"



[Host]

Content on this podcast may contain elements that are not suitable for some listeners. Listener discretion is advised.


[Theme Intro Music Begins]


[Host]

Hey everyone and welcome. I'm your host Michelle Pense. Thank you for joining me for this inaugural episode of my brand new podcast, The Crime Shack. I've created The Crime Shack as a way to share my love and passion for all things true crime. We'll be diving into old and new crimes that have occurred throughout the world, cover solved and unsolved cases and discuss some mysterious disappearances. I hope you enjoy this episode and be sure to like and subscribe to us on your favorite podcast app.


[Theme Intro Music Ends]


[Host]

Do you ever come across a case that you just can't get out of your mind? You watch every day of the trial. You read articles about the case, you look up the evidence photos. Something about the case just resonates with you, whether it's the people involved, the strange circumstances of the crime or the mystery of “who done it.” In this episode, we will be talking about a case that went to trial in September of 2019 and I cannot stop thinking about this case. The crime occurred in a small rural town in middle America and involves farming, a bloody corn rake and a little family farm in Delaware County, Iowa. So stick around and let's dive into the lives of Todd and Amy Mullis.


Todd Mullis and Amy Fuller met at the Delaware County Fair in Manchester in 2003. Fourteen months later, they were married and eventually had three beautiful children together. Two boys, Tristan and Wyatt and a girl, Taylor. Todd was a high school graduate who grew up farming with his family, his father and a couple of his siblings owned and maintained their own farms. Todd also eventually owned his own farm in Earlville, Iowa, where he farmed crops such as corn and soybeans, maintained cattle at one time and also had a hog operation. Earlville is a small town in Delaware County, Iowa, which is sort of Northeast Iowa, with a population of about 700 people. Outside of farming Todd enjoyed hunting, fishing, and doing general outdoor activities.


After they were married, Amy moved in with Todd into his farm home in Earlville. According to Todd's testimony, she was ecstatic to move in. Could not wait to start her new life together on the farm with Todd. Amy had a background education in nursing and worked as a registered nurse for time during their marriage, but Amy and Todd came to an agreement that she would quit working as an RN and work from home to remove herself from that work environment due to the sake of their marriage. We'll circle back to this topic later. Aside from helping with the farm, Amy also had her own hobbies or activities that she enjoyed. She liked to shop, have lunch with friends, play golf, go hunting, go fishing. Amy was known as a very social person, having many close girlfriends over the years, some coworkers and some were met through mutual kids' activities.


As is so common with most social media accounts, Amy's social media showed photos of what I like to refer to as “virtual happiness:” smiling photos of her and Todd, photos of her with her friends, photos of the kids during hunting or gymnastics and other family activities. To the outside world, it would seem like a normal, happy, well-rounded middle America family...but life is not always what it appears to be on social media and certainly life was far from what it appeared in the Mullis household.


In 2013 while Amy was working at the hospital, she had an affair. Todd ultimately found out about the affair and Amy and Todd then attended marriage counseling where she was advised, according to Todd, to let Todd know of her whereabouts during the day. For instance, if she would go to the store, if she would go out to lunch with friends, etcetera, and also to have open communication within the marriage. They talked about everything, according to Todd.


This affair was also allegedly the reason why Amy decided to quit her RN job. Although Todd disputes that and says that Amy quit because she wanted to stay home and spend more time with the kids. Things in the Mullis family seemed to progress normally, and in 2016 Todd, Amy, his brother and his father obtained the ownership of some additional farm real estate. Amy and Todd had planned to build a log cabin on this new property. Todd also obtained ownership in a third farm with his dad and brother, so the property assets seem to be piling up quite nicely for Todd and Amy. So there's an old and familiar saying, good news travels fast, bad news travels faster. This seems to be the case 10 times over in small towns. Both Todd and Amy had people in their inner circle who they would occasionally share their marriage troubles.


As a matter of fact, Amy seemed to share a lot of her marriage troubles with her friends. Some of Amy's friends and family members testified that Amy told them she wasn't happy in her marriage and shared with them the constant marriage issue she was having, and her growing fear of her husband. Amy's friends had a nickname for her that referenced the level of control they thought Todd exerted over his wife. They would call her the “POT wife”...short for “Prisoner of Todd.” Nice. Okay, maybe in this small farm town in Iowa, this was normal behavior. Everyone knew everyone's business and everyone shared everything. In fact, at one point, both Todd and Amy were talking with one of Amy's girlfriends about troubles in their marriage. There was obviously a sense of desperation from both Todd and Amy to try to resolve their situation, hoping for someone to offer a good solution that would end in both of them being happy.


In the spring of 2018, Todd noticed the Amy was acting different. According to Todd, she would go off into her bedroom a lot with her phone. Based on her recent behavior, Todd decided to search their phone records and what he discovered was over a hundred text messages between Amy's number and their farm manager, Jerry Frasher's number. Because of the previous affair, this obviously made Todd uncomfortable. Instead of confronting her, he first decided to call Jerry. Then he decided to call Amy’s stepmother, Eileen Fuller, who suggested that Todd called Jerry's wife to see what was going on. To me personally, that seems a little odd that Amy’s stepmother would even suggest that, but let me give you a little context. At this time in the trial, Jerry had already admitted to having an affair with Amy. Here's his testimony about being confronted by Todd about those text messages:


[Trial Testimony of Jerry Frasher]


[Assistant Attorney General Maureen Hughes]

What if anything happened in July, 2018?


[Jerry Frasher]

Uh, Todd confronted me about a bunch of text messages and then, uh, I denied it and said it was over some other stuff dealing with kids and sports and showing livestock, and, uh, a couple of days later he called my wife and talked to her about it. And then approximately two days later he called both of us back and apologized to both of us and said he should have handled it different.


[Assistant Attorney General Maureen Hughes]

Now let me just stop you. When you say that Todd confronted you, do you know the exact date that he did?


[Jerry Frasher]

No, I don't.


[Assistant Attorney General Maureen Hughes]

Would it be fair to say that it was the end of July, 2018?


[Jerry Frasher]

It was sometime in July.


[Assistant Attorney General Maureen Hughes]

And how was it that Todd confronted you?


[Jerry Frasher]

Uh, called me.


[Assistant Attorney General Maureen Hughes]

And what do you remember him saying to you?


[Jerry Frasher]

Just that she had texted me a lot of times in a day and wanted to know why or if it was possible.


[Assistant Attorney General Maureen Hughes]

And when you say she, do you mean Amy?


[Jerry Frasher]

Amy, yes.


[Assistant Attorney General Maureen Hughes]

And what was your response to Todd?


[Jerry Frasher]

I just said that she was texting me and it was over kids playing sports, um, showing livestock, things like that.


[Assistant Attorney General Maureen Hughes]

Now you indicated that around that same time Todd called your wife?


[Jerry Frasher]

Yeah, a couple days later after he confronted or called me about it, he called my wife.


[Assistant Attorney General Maureen Hughes]

And he called her the first time?


[Jerry Frasher]

Yes.


[Assistant Attorney General Maureen Hughes]

And do you know what that conversation consisted of?


[Jerry Frasher]

Just basically told her that we were communicating by text message a lot.


[Assistant Attorney General Maureen Hughes]

And then you indicated that a few days later there was a second…


[Jerry Frasher]

Yes, mm hmm.


[Assistant Attorney General Maureen Hughes]

….call to your wife.


[Assistant Attorney General Maureen Hughes]

Is that a yes?


[Jerry Frasher]

Yes.


[Assistant Attorney General Maureen Hughes]

And what was the nature of that conversation?


[Jerry Frasher]

He just called to apologize.


[Assistant Attorney General Maureen Hughes]

Did he also apologize to you?


[Jerry Frasher]

Yes.


[Assistant Attorney General Maureen Hughes]

Now did you and Amy ever have a conversation about the fact that Todd confronted you?


[Jerry Frasher]

Yes, I told her he did.


[Assistant Attorney General Maureen Hughes]

And what if anything, did Amy tell you?


[Jerry Frasher]

She was upset that he did it.


[Assistant Attorney General Maureen Hughes]

Did she also tell you that he confronted her?


[Jerry Frasher]

I don't remember.


[Assistant Attorney General Maureen Hughes]

Now after you were confronted by Todd, did you and Amy decide that you were going to communicate a different type of way?


[Jerry Frasher]

Yeah. I told her that we needed to slow down and she was, we couldn't text anymore, so it was, she wanted to do an email.


[Assistant Attorney General Maureen Hughes]

Did you then set up a Gmail account?


[Jerry Frasher]

Yes.


[Assistant Attorney General Maureen Hughes]

And is, the after July, 2018 would you use that Gmail account to communicate with Amy?


[Jerry Frasher]

Yes.


[Assistant Attorney General Maureen Hughes]

And Amy also had a Gmail account?


[Jerry Frasher]

Yes.


[Assistant Attorney General Maureen Hughes]

And then you would both use that account, those accounts, I'm sorry, to speak with each other?


[Jerry Frasher]

Yes.


[Host]

Jerry Frasher continued to state that Amy wouldn’t often talk about her marriage to him, but he did know that she wasn't happy in her marriage and she stated to him that she felt like she was a slave or a hostage. During that same summer and fall of 2018, Amy decided to tell her friend Terry Staner that Todd had called Jerry Frasher to confront him about the text messages. Amy also would go on to tell Terry the real reason for the text messages between her and Jerry Frasher:


[Trial Testimony of Terry Staner]


[Assistant Attorney General Maureen Hughes]

During that conversation, what did Amy indicate to you?


[Terry Staner]

She told me that she had started seeing, uh, their field guy, that, um, had come to their farm quite often. I didn't exactly understand what his job was or what his role was, and that Todd was very suspicious, had called this gentleman's wife and had confronted him also asking if there was something going on between the two of ‘em due to the volume of text messages. And, um, she did tell me that she was having an affair with him at that time.


[Assistant Attorney General Maureen Hughes]

At that time, did Amy indicate to you any intentions about whether or not she was going to stay with Todd or leave Todd?


[Terry Staner]

No. She, um, indicated that she didn't know what was gonna happen with this relationship. She said at first it started out as very sexual. Um, he made it very clear that that's all it was about was just having sex. And then she said, but as they progressed, it - they became close and it became more than just a sexual relationship.


[Host]

After the conversation with Jerry Frasher, Todd was still unsure what was going on. So he tried to confide in Terry Staner by asking her if she knew whether or not Amy was having an affair. But all Terry said was that he needed to talk to Amy about it.


At the end of August 2018, Terry attended a local medical conference where someone came up to her and said that they'd heard that Amy was being naughty again. Terry relayed this information to Amy. Obviously, this made Amy uncomfortable, so to preempt Todd's reaction in case he heard the rumors, she decided to tell Todd personally about the rumors and here's Todd's account of that conversation:


[Trial Testimony of Todd Mullis]


[Todd Mullis]

She was concerned that how they could get started. So we talked about that like ‘well who could have started that?’ Kind of went back and forth like that for a little bit, and, and she said, well I just wanted you to know, so if you hear something, you know, don't, don't believe it, you know. And then I'm like, ‘Oh, for crying out loud,’ you know, and then I just kinda thought about it, I guess for a day or two, and then let it go.


[Host]

Now look, this is just my opinion, but based on what Todd just said, Amy had to have been a little bit surprised that Todd essentially brushed it off because Amy had told Terry that Todd would be furious if he found out about these rumors. And oh, by the way, she also told Terry that if anything ever happened to her to look in the timber that was located on their new farm property that they had just purchased. Think about that for a second. If you had a close friend tell you, “Hey, if I go missing, look under that pile of wood over there because that's probably where my husband will put me” - WHAT?! If that's not a huge red flag, I don't know what is. Also, in August of 2018, Amy had a conversation with her brother and told him that she was planning on leaving her husband.


She asked if he could help her find an apartment and to help store some old furniture that belonged to a family member in storage, which he agreed to do. Amy told him that as soon as all their crops were out of the fields, she was planning on leaving Todd and would file for divorce.


Three months after that conversation with her brother, Amy had to go in for uterine ablasion surgery on November 6th, 2018. This is a fairly common surgery for women and it's an in and out procedure which did not require Amy to stay overnight in the hospital. You may be wondering why I'm going into detail on the type of surgery, but it does become relevant later on in the story. In a matter of days following the procedure, Amy was able to get out and about and help again with the farm.


On the morning of November 10th, 2018 just four days after Amy's surgery, Carrie Callan, a friend of Amy's, sent her a text message around 8:10am that read:


“How's it been going? Been thinking of you guys.”


A minute later, Amy responds with:


“Thanks. Okay. Still very tense around here. Just not sure of anything anymore.”


According to phone records, that was the last text that Amy would ever send. So what exactly was Amy referring to in that text message? The household being tense? Her marriage being tense? She just got out of surgery a couple of days prior…Todd didn't seemingly believe the affair rumors. So why were things tense?


That morning was a typical morning. Amy made breakfast and Todd and their son Trysten prepared to start to work on the farm. Even though Amy was still recovering from her surgery, she pushed herself to help out that day, and here's what Todd had to say about that...but keep in mind she just had surgery four days prior, and there was testimony that she was still having some bleeding due to the surgery:


[Trial Testimony of Todd Mullis]


[Defense Attorney Gerald "Jake" Feuerhelm]

Was there any reaction from Amy when you announced that you were going to go out and just start getting the barns ready?


[Todd Mullis]

Yeah, she basically just, I think she just asked, Hey, you to need some help mind if I come out.


[Defense Attorney Gerald "Jake" Feuerhelm]

Now this was November 10th and you mentioned that on November 6th she had had a medical procedure completed.



[Todd Mullis]

Yes.


[Defense Attorney Gerald "Jake" Feuerhelm]

And you heard, uh, Terry describe that medical procedure. Was that pretty accurate as you understood it?


[Todd Mullis]

Yes, as to my knowledge, I didn't witness the surgery, but I would assume that that was the procedure.


[Defense Attorney Gerald "Jake" Feuerhelm]

And did you take Amy to that surgery that day?


[Todd Mullis]

Yes, I did.


[Defense Attorney Gerald "Jake" Feuerhelm]

And it was, it was an outpatient surgery, I assume?


[Todd Mullis]

I think that's what you call it. Yeah, we went in, it was in the emergency room, but there was a surgery, or room off to the side.


[Defense Attorney Gerald "Jake" Feuerhelm]

But she didn't stay overnight in a hospital?


[Todd Mullis]

No she did not stay overnight.


[Defense Attorney Gerald "Jake" Feuerhelm]

From that day, from November 6th up to November 10th, was she as physically active as she normally would be?


[Todd Mullis]

No, she spent almost 24/7 in the house. She was just resting and that's basically all she was, she was cooped up in the house.


[Defense Attorney Gerald "Jake" Feuerhelm]

So when she said, you know, can, do you need some help or can I help, what was your reaction?


[Todd Mullis]

I said, if you're okay with it, that's fine.


[Defense Attorney Gerald "Jake" Feuerhelm]

So did you all go together out to the hog barn?


[Todd Mullis]

No, um Trysten and I went out first. We, we went out first and then Amy came out. She wasn't dressed yet for chores. She was in her pajamas or yet, and we were dressed already, so we went out first and then she came out a little bit later.


[Defense Attorney Gerald "Jake" Feuerhelm]

Okay. Do you have an estimate as to what time you and Trysten would’ve went out to the hog barn.


[Todd Mullis]

I think it was in the, it was after 9, by 9:30, sometime around there.


[Defense Attorney Gerald "Jake" Feuerhelm]

And Trysten described the various things that each of you were doing when he testified by video the other day. Was he accurate?


[Todd Mullis]

Yes. There was a few things we do in addition to what he was saying, but I was doing those jobs, so it makes sense.


[Defense Attorney Gerald "Jake" Feuerhelm]

He was getting those heaters and getting them to the stall, the pins?


[Todd Mullis]

Yes.


[Defense Attorney Gerald "Jake" Feuerhelm]

Amy was cleaning light globes.


[Todd Mullis]

Mm hmm.


[Defense Attorney Gerald "Jake" Feuerhelm]

Is that a yes?


[Todd Mullis]

Yes.


[Defense Attorney Gerald "Jake" Feuerhelm]

And you were getting these nipple feeders down?