This article was originally published April 7, 1999.
Judith Weeks’ troubled life rarely took her out of southeast Cedar Rapids, according to a friend and to court records. Her life probably ended there sometime during the weekend.
“That’s not a good neighborhood up there,” said Clarence Johnson. “Who wouldn’t worry? She always told me she could handle herself. But she couldn’t handle herself there.”
Police are seeking anyone who may have seen Weeks between Friday and Monday afternoon, when a passerby discovered her body in the back yard of a vacant apartment house at 1319 Second Ave. SE.
Police Sgt. Mark Andries said no suspects have been identified.
“It’s still pretty open-ended, the whole investigation,” Andries said.
Andries said detectives haven’t decided whether Weeks, 44, was killed where her partially clothed body was found or what might have killed her. The time of her death is also undetermined.
“Nothing’s been ruled out. Nothing’s been pinpointed either,” Andries said.
An autopsy has been conducted, but police released no details on the manner of death.
Johnson, who said he has shared Weeks’ one-room apartment at 1002 Fifth St. SE for three months, last saw her about noon Saturday.
He wrote a $225 check toward the $325 monthly rent, leaving the “pay to” line blank because he was unsure how to spell the name of the landlord. She took the check and left to pay the rent.
“She seemed all right when she was here,” Johnson said. “She took off and never came back.”
Johnson said he didn’t know if the rent was paid. Efforts to contact the landlord on Tuesday were unsuccessful.
At about 3 a.m. Saturday, Weeks took a cab from her apartment to an apartment building about three blocks from where her body was found, Johnson said. He didn’t know who she was going to see.
Johnson, 68, called himself “a father figure” to Weeks. He spoke fondly of her – “she’s a lovable girl” – but acknowledged her chronic troubles with alcohol.
Weeks’ court record since 1993 includes 25 arrests, 21 of them for public intoxication.
“She’d drink beer and wine, but she liked to drink vodka,” said Johnson.
Six of the intoxication arrests came in 1998, along with the most serious charge on Weeks’ record, assault while displaying a dangerous weapon, filed after she threatened another woman with a knife during a May 1, 1998, incident at 120 17th St. NE. On July 31, Weeks pleaded guilty to simple assault and was sentenced to a day in jail, with credit for a day already served.
Weeks was a victim, too. Her longtime boyfriend, Darryl Harbison, was convicted of assaulting her on two occasions in 1997.
But Harbison, 40, isn’t a suspect in Weeks’ death. He has been in the Linn County Jail since Feb. 8 for failing to meet the terms of his probation in a July 1997 assault on Weeks. According to court records, Harbison failed to complete a batterer’s education program that accompanied his 30-day sentence for that offense.
After each incident, court orders were issued banning Harbison from contact with Weeks. Despite their stormy past, Weeks and Harbison planned to get married after he finished his latest jail stint, Johnson said.
Johnson said he and Weeks supplemented his Social Security and her welfare payments with visits to local food pantries. She last worked late last year at Denny’s Green Square Pub and Restaurant, 529 Fourth Ave. SE, according to Johnson.
Restaurant owner Denny VanTomme confirmed Weeks worked there for about three weeks.
“She really wasn’t the type of a person who was real dependable at times,” VanTomme said. “She might be here one time, she might not be here at another time.”
Johnson said Weeks, whom he’d known for about four years, invited him to move in early this year to help with the rent. Weeks had two children, but neither lived with her.
He said he often worried about her late hours and the company she kept.
“I always worried about her,” he said as he sat on a mattress in one corner of the second-floor apartment. “But I didn’t think anything like this was going to happen.”