At 10:45 p.m. on Saturday, February 9, 2008, Benjamin Roseland left his friend’s apartment in Clinton, Iowa, to walk to a nearby store. It was very cold. The 19-year-old put on camouflage coveralls over his jeans and polo shirt and walked to the Hy-Vee store, which takes three minutes. He told his friend he would be back soon, but he never came back and was never seen again.
Ben was last seen near his home with his parents and two sisters. He was also a student at Clinton County Community College. When his family found out that he had left for snacks and never came back to his friend’s flat, they became very worried. His mother, Theresa Roseland, called the Clinton Police Department to report him missing, but they thought he was a runaway and didn’t try to find him.
Ben’s parents were sure he hadn’t left on his own. It’s not like he would have just stopped going to college; he was a good student and paid for it himself. What’s even scarier is that he was in a bad car accident on November 29, 2007, and was still healing when he disappeared. He had multiple skull fractures and serious cuts and scrapes on his face in the accident, which also totaled his Buick and left him without a car. People were afraid that he had been hurt badly on his way to the store.
Even though Ben’s family did everything they could to let people know he was missing, it would be three weeks before the Clinton police would finally start looking into what happened. Not only did Ben not take any of his things with him, but his cell phone and debit card had also not been used since he disappeared. It was enough for authorities to change their minds about their first guess that he had gone missing on his own.
Investigators talked to Ben’s family and friends and found that no one had seen or heard from him since the night he walked to the store. They got surveillance footage from the Hy-Vee grocery store and watched it over and over again to see if Ben was with anyone when he went there. When they watched video from inside the store and the parking lot, they saw that Ben had not gone to the Hy-Vee that night.
On March 1, 2019, authorities set up a huge search operation to look for the missing teenager. The search was done by the Clinton Police Department, the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office, the Clinton Fire Department, and the Iowa State Patrol. Dozens of worried family, friends, and residents also helped.
To get to the Hy-Vee, Ben should have gone north from his friend’s apartment, but searchers were spread out over a large area north and south of the apartment. The search began at 11:15 a.m., and the first big find was made within a few minutes. An empty field about six blocks south of where Ben was last seen was searched for and a pair of camouflage trainers were found at 11:38 am. A pair of shoes that matched was found on top of a snow bank a block away.
That shoe looked a lot like the ones Ben had been wearing the night he went missing, and his mother quickly confirmed that they belonged to her son. After this, search and rescue dogs were called in to see if they could use the scent from Ben’s shoes to find him. They were really disappointed that they couldn’t find any kind of trail.
A Clinton police officer went with the Med-Force helicopter crew and flew over the area several times in the hopes that an aerial search would be more useful. Benjamin was not to be found.
Ben’s family and friends held a candlelight vigil on April 5 to remind everyone that he was still missing and to pray for his safe return. They wanted everyone who was grieving to know that they weren’t alone. They asked anyone whose loved one had gone missing to come to the vigil and bring a picture of their loved one to share.
Even though Ben’s family stayed positive that he would be found safe, they knew in their hearts that he had been killed. He always thought about how other people felt, and he would never have let his family worry about him. They were sure that he would have called them if he could.
There wasn’t much solid evidence about what had happened, so rumours spread through the small town of Clinton about where Ben was. Some people said Ben was dead and that his body would be found under a bridge. Police searched all the bridges in the area but couldn’t find any evidence to support the story.
Some people said that Ben had been killed and his body had been left in an empty house in South Clinton. This made Ben’s family and friends very worried. There were a lot of empty homes in that area. Most of them had just been bought by Archer Daniels Midland, a company with a corn processing plant in Clinton. For the search for Ben, they let people into their properties, but nothing was found.
According to rumours going around town, Ben had left on his own because he was having legal issues because he was at fault in the car accident in November and hurt more than just himself. His licence was taken away because he had been drunk driving before, so he shouldn’t have been driving. He hit the back of a Ford Mustang that was stopped at a red light. Then he drove into oncoming traffic and hit a pickup truck straight on.
Ben was charged with driving while licence was suspended and failing to stop at a safe distance. The 19-year-old woman driving the truck was hurt, but not as badly as Ben. Both of these crimes were misdemeanours, so Ben knew he probably wouldn’t spend much time in jail, if any time at all.
The people who live with Ben made it clear right away that he had no plans to avoid his duties. The thought of hurting someone with his careless driving made him sick, and he had already hired a lawyer to help him in his upcoming trial. He took $5,000 out of his savings account to pay the retainer fee, and he was hopeful that his lawyer could get the sentence reduced.
Anyone who knew Ben knew how to save money. He had been doing it since he was eight years old. He had a lot of savings that he planned to use to buy a house one day. He might have taken some of this money with him if he had wanted to disappear, but it was left alone.
There was no sign of Ben for six months, so it was clear that the investigation into his disappearance had stopped. Detectives kept looking at his case file, but they had run out of ideas and still didn’t know if he was alive or dead. Even though his family kept hoping for the best, they were honest and said they just wanted to be done with it. They began to raise money so that they could offer a reward for information about Ben’s whereabouts.
On November 24, Ben would have been 20 years old. To remember him, his family held another candlelight vigil. They asked people from the community to come as a reminder that Ben was still missing and had not been seen or heard from. That someone had to know something about what happened, and they begged that person to come forward and talk to the police.
Even though Ben was looked for more times, mostly with cadaver dogs, no sign of him has ever been found. In the years since Ben went missing, detectives have gotten a few new leads. They carefully followed up on each one, but they still couldn’t find any solid evidence in the case.
The last time we saw Helen, Ben’s younger sister, she was only 15 years old. She is determined to learn what happened to her brother and has been looking into his disappearance on her own. She told TV that she has been trying to get in touch with Ben’s old friends on the internet and won’t stop until she gets answers. She always has posters of Ben that she does not have with her because she still thinks about him every day, even after all these years.
Since there is no proof of foul play, Ben’s case is still considered a missing person investigation. His family thinks he was killed by someone, and they think it might have been the so-called Midwest Smiley Face Killer, an unknown serial killer who is thought to be responsible for the deaths of more than thirty college-age men. The deaths seem to have all happened near the Mississippi River. All of the young men were found drowned in strange ways, and many of their bodies had painted smiley faces next to them.
Ben went missing just a few blocks from the Mississippi River, but until his body is found, it’s impossible to say for sure if he died in the water. Even though the river was dug up after Ben went missing, there was no sign that he ended up there.
Benjamin Roseland was last seen in Clinton, Iowa, in February 2008. He was 19 years old. He was in college and had done some bad things in the past. But he was on the right track and felt good about the future. The last time we saw Ben, he was 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighed 175 pounds. He has brown hair and blue eyes. He was last seen with brown short-sleeved polo shirt, blue jeans, white socks and trainers with a camouflage print on them. His trainers were later found. He had scars on his face from the car accident. There was one that went from his lower lip to his chin, one that was on the right side of his mouth, and one that was on the left side of his nose. Please call the Clinton Police Department at 563–243–1458 if you know anything about Ben.