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Private investigator says Google may face lawsuit in connection with Huisentruit cold case

Jodi-Huisentruit
Former KIMT morning anchor Jodi Huisentruit, who was 27 at the time of her disappearance.

UPDATE: Google has altered it’s ‘Google Knowledge Graph’ — removing a reference to John Vansice as the “killer” of Jodi Huisentruit. The Mason City anchor disappeared in 1995, the victim of an abduction and apparent murder, although no remains have ever been found.

Private Investigator Steve Ridge contacted Google Friday. The search engine had cited The Mason City Globe Gazette as its source in an adjacent link. Ridge says he also alerted the Globe Gazette.

“Google moved swiftly to correct the apparent error, but one could argue that the damage is done,” Ridge said.  “John Vansice’s wife told me this past weekend that they were ‘devastated’ to see the Google claim,” Ridge added.

Ridge says he believes the incident will fuel the national debate over Google’s search results, its role as a content provider, and its status as separate from news organization regulation.  “I’ve heard from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, as well as a wide spectrum of media executives,” Ridge said.  “This is the tip of the iceberg,” Ridge concluded.

“One is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law in this country.  Apparently, however, one can be found ‘Google Guilty’ until proven innocent,” Ridge concluded. 

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PHOENIX (KWWL) - A licensed private investigator says a potential suspect in the 1995 abduction and murder of Mason City television anchor Jodi Huisentruit is considering a lawsuit against Google, which currently lists him as the victim’s “killer”.

Investigator Steve Ridge says Arizona resident John Vansice and his wife are exploring how the assertion that Vansice is responsible for the murder became part of a prominent ‘Google Knowledge Graph’ as the first entry in the search engine’s results about the case. 

“Vansice has never been indicted, charged or tried for any crime related to Jodi Huisentruit’s disappearance," Ridge said.

Huisentruit was reported missing on June 27, 1995, after she did not report for work as the morning show anchor for KIMT. Last June marked 25 years since her disappearance.

Ridge says the ‘Google Knowledge Graph’ links The Mason City Globe Gazette as its source, but that nothing in the newspaper’s archives appear to support characterizing Vansice in that way.  

“As it stands, Google has actually proclaimed John Vansice as guilty of Jodi Huisentruit’s murder, without qualification. On the face of it, Google would appear to have massive legal exposure," Ridge said.

Ridge says he sent an urgent message to Google about the situation.

According to Ridge, Vansice, who suffers from a progressive case of dementia, legally granted his wife his power of attorney some time back.

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