The discovery of a burned pickup truck a few miles from Algona, Iowa, sprung the authorities into action. Inside were the remains of Nicole Berte, a young mother who had been missing for over a day. Investigation Discovery’s ‘Murder In The Heartland: Murder on Beer Can Alley’ focuses on Nicole’s death and how the police zeroed in on her killer, Randy Lee Bode. So, if you’re curious to find out more, here’s what we know.
How Did Nicole Berte Die?
Nicole Lynn Berte was born in July 1975. As per the show, the young woman was only 14 when she gave birth to her son, Brian. While Nicole dropped out of high school, she got her GED later. The 25-year-old woman was a hard worker who always prioritized her son. She previously worked as a bartender at the family bar, and at the time of the incident, did some electrical work at a local company.
Nicole was married to Chad Berte for about three years, and on November 17, 2000, he traveled to Minnesota for a football game. Nicole left Brian with her mother, Lois, while she went out with a few friends. However, she didn’t return the following day to pick him up as planned. A worried Lois then called the authorities and reported her missing. According to the show, on November 19, 2000, the police got a call regarding a burned-out pickup truck. They found human remains in the backseat. While the death was ruled a homicide, the cause of death was inconclusive.
Who Killed Nicole Berte?
The authorities then learned that Nicole was at a local bar in Algona on the night of November 17, 2000, visiting a few friends. There, she met Randy Lee Bode, then a 24-year-old. The investigation revealed that Nicole and Randy were at the bar all evening, extending into the early hours of November 18. At that point, Randy asked her if she could drive him home to his mother’s place, to which Nicole agreed. They left between 1:30 am and 2:00 am, but Nicole never returned home.
When the police spoke to Randy’s mother, she stated that her son came home that night but left again, and she hadn’t seen him since then. As per the show, Randy had recently done laundry as well. He was taken into custody after a tip regarding his whereabouts came through. While Randy didn’t talk, the authorities collected DNA evidence; they also noticed he had scratches on his face.
Earlier, the police were able to collect a semen sample from Nicole’s body, and in September 2001, DNA analysis proved Randy’s profile was a match. Furthermore, cigarette butts found close to the crime scene matched Randy’s DNA. As per the show, he told the police that Nicole agreed to give him a ride back home and while in the car, he made some sexual advances toward her. When Nicole turned him down, Randy said he took her to the back seat, raped her, and strangled her to death.
Where is Randy Lee Bode Now?
The prosecution later stated that some destroyed evidence, inconsistent statements from witnesses, and other problems meant that Randy Lee Bode could have walked free if the case went to trial. As a result, he pleaded guilty to the lesser charges of voluntary manslaughter and second-degree sexual assault. The judge sentenced him to 10 years for manslaughter and 25 years for sexual assault. These sentences were to run consecutively to the 10-year sentence Randy was already serving for a sexual abuse conviction. Randy remains incarcerated at the Clarinda Correctional Facility in Page County, Iowa, and will be eligible for parole in 2031.
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