The store`s security video captured the horrible crime in its entirety. The suspect`s face is clearly visible. But despite an intensive investigation and airing of the video on national TV twice, the crime has remained unsolved for seven years.
It was just before 10:30 a.m. March 10, 1997, when a man pulled his red Pontiac Grand Am into the Amoco station in Cozad, just off Interstate 80.
Leah Rowlands, 41, from Cozad, was working that morning. It was the last time anyone saw her alive.
The barefoot man walked into the store and wandered around a bit. Investigators said he was waiting for a mother and daughter to buy their items and leave.
The man, wearing dark sweatpants and a black or dark gray hooded sweatshirt with a bomber-style leather jacket, got a bottle of pop from the cooler, opened it and took a drink.
What happened next still haunts investigators.
The man approached the counter and spoke to Rowlands. She opened the cash register and handed him the money then, lay on the floor behind the counter.
The man pulled a 9 mm semiautomatic pistol from his right pocket, leaned over the counter and fired at least three shots.
Two pierced Rowlands` arm. The third entered the left side of her skull, killing her instantly.
The unknown man walked out with the soda, a pack of cigarettes, a lighter, $150 and a full tank of gas.
The car, possibly a 1993 model, had no front license plate. The rear plate was impossible to read.
The television show "America`s Most Wanted" aired the security videotape twice – once in 1997 and again in 2002 after a video enhancement – and hundreds of leads poured in, but so far no suspect has been arrested.
Rowlands was the mother of two sons and had moved to Cozad to be close to her boyfriend. She was promoted to manager the day before she died.
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If you have any information concerning this case, please contact your local Law Enforcement Agency or call the Cozad Police Department at 308-784-2366, the Nebraska State Patrol at 308-535-8047 or the Dawson County Sheriff`s Office at 308-324-3011.You may remain anonymous by calling the Dawson County Crime Stoppers at 308-784-1234.