This story was originally published in The Gazette April 5, 2000.
A small, tidy woman, Katherine Weeks lives in a small, tidy house in southwest Cedar Rapids. Houseplants line a window in the sunny kitchen, where the refrigerator is decorated with photos of her grandchildren and their crayon artwork.
The peace lily Weeks kept from her daughter’s funeral is in a front window off the living room.
“We miss her, of course,” Weeks says of her daughter Judith, whose body was discovered a year ago today behind a vacant apartment house in southeast Cedar Rapids.
Judith Weeks, 44, shared a single-room apartment in a rundown house at the time of her death. She hadn’t held a job for months, lived on welfare payments, and often went months without seeing her family.
“She had a lot of problems (with drinking), and she suffered from depression,” Weeks says. “That had a lot to do with her other problems.”
None of which eases her family’s pain at her loss. In a photo on a table in her mother’s living room, Judith Weeks is a pretty woman, posed with her three sisters and brother at a family wedding about 16 years ago.
“It’s quite a big hole, but we go about and do everyday things we always did,” says Weeks, whose husband Everett died in 1992.
On this sunny but cool afternoon, that’s baking a loaf of banana bread for an expected visit from her twin granddaughters – “We have a lot of fun. That helps.” – and tending the houseplants. And she likes to take a walk every day around the Czech Village neighborhood.
“That helps a lot, to be out, you know,” Weeks says.
Judith’s murder remains unsolved. Her body was nude from the waist down when it was found behind 1319 Second Ave. SE, and the only apparent injury was a blow to the forehead by a “bladed object,” according to court documents.
Police Capt. Glen Fox said no leads have developed over recent months, and Weeks has lost hope that her daughter’s killer will be found.
“I’m inclined to think it was someone she didn’t know,” she says. “I don’t know why I think that. I have doubts they will ever solve it. I think if they were going to solve it, they would have.”
Weeks stays in touch with Judith’s 16-year-old daughter, who lives with her father in Kalona, and 24-year-old son in Iowa City.
“I write the granddaughter, and I phone them both from time to time.”
There are local support groups for survivors of homicide victims, but Weeks prefers her own coping mechanisms.
“I guess I’m not a person that gets good out of that,” she says. “I just try to work it out myself.”
The peace lily from Judith’s funeral just started to bloom this week.
As she returns the plant to its place in the living room window, Weeks weeps for a brief moment.
“Such a huge hole in such a small person,” she says. And then she goes on.