MISSING AND MURDERED IN THE MIDWEST: A podcast looking into crimes that made the headlines, starting in the Quad City area and expanding throughout the Midwest. Podcast host and News 8 Executive Producer Toria Wilson, dedicated her time into researching the murder cases that shocked us and the missing persons cases that left us with unanswered questions.
Halloweek Day 2, Episode 9: Extra Extra Read all About it! Tattooed War Widow Murdered in Iowa! Sex Fiend Now Being Hunted!
That bold headline was slapped on every major newspaper across the country back in 1947.
Dubbed ‘The Tattooed Lady’ Margaret Treese’s life was not easy as she broke expectations living unconventionally in a conventional time. Her death, shrouded in mystery for the past 70 years, has stumped investigators trying to figure out what happened, who murdered her and why.
Margaret Martin was born Feb. 7, 1913 in Stuebenville, Ohio, the same year women first got the right to vote and make political decisions. One of seven siblings, there’s not a whole lot that’s known about Margaret’s early life.
It was in New York, where she got most of the tattoos she was known for and married an Elmer Treese who would later die during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II.
Now a widow, she would remarry Stanley Dombkiewicz while living in West Virginia, but their marriage wouldn’t last long.
Eventually ending up in Davenport, Iowa, Margaret connected with a man named Clarence Saunders around May of 1947. During this time, the two posed as a married couple to stay at the Standard Hotel, now the German American Heritage Center off West 2nd Street.
Margaret quickly made a name for herself as a familiar face at some of the ‘shady taverns’ along 2nd Street, known then as ‘Skid Row’. She was frequently seen dancing, letting men buy her drinks and later stealing their money.
Known for having a number of lovers, Margaret was a 34-year-old woman covered in tattoos who drank, flirted and honestly didn’t seem to care much about stereotypes or expectations. The last time she was seen alive would be just after midnight on Tuesday, Sept. 30, 1947 after getting kicked out of a bar.
Her body was found near the entrance to Credit Island lying face up in deep grass. She was nude, battered and pieces of her clothing and a photo of a young child were scattered nearby.
Among many gruesome acts of violence, Davenport Police reported that she was thrown in front of a car and run over repeatedly.
But who did it?
Was it Stanley, Margaret’s ex-husband or Clarence, her lover? Could it have been the police or someone from California?
Click here to listen to the episode on The Tattooed Woman on Spotify and make your own conclusions.
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This case is still an open investigation with the Davenport Police Department. If you have any information relating to this incident contact the department at 563-326-6125.