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Dustin Lee HONKEN





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Slayings of two federal drug informants
Number of victims: 5
Date of murders: July 25/November 4, 1993
Date of arrest: August 30, 2001
Date of birth: 1968
Victims profile: Greg Nicholson, his girlfriend, Lori Ann Duncan, 31, and her two daughters, Kandace Duncan, 10, and Amber Duncan, 6 / Terry DeGeus, 32
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Cerro Gordo County, Iowa, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on October 11, 2005

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The United States Court of Appeals
For the E
ighth Circuit


opinion 05-3871


Honken and his former girlfriend, Angela Johnson, 44, were convicted in the slayings of two federal drug informants who once sold methamphetamine for Honken.

One of the informants, Greg Nicholson of Mason City, disappeared in June 1993 along with his girlfriend, Lori Duncan, also of Mason City, and her two daughters, Kandace Duncan, 10, and Amber Duncan, 6.

The other informant, Terry DeGeus of Britt, disappeared months later.

Their bodies were discovered in two graves near Mason City in 2000 after Johnson gave information about the locations of the graves to a jailhouse informant.


First Man Since 1963, Sentenced To Death For Five Murders

October 16, 2005

A drug dealer convicted of killing five people - including two children - to protect his methamphetamine operation was sentenced Tuesday to die by lethal injection, becoming the first person in more than 40 years to receive a death sentence in Iowa.

Dustin Honken, 37, insisted he was innocent, accused U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett of being on a "death agenda," and called his prosecutors magicians and tricksters who won their case by stoking the jury's passions.

"I have committed many wrongs ... but never have I taken another life," he said. Honken was prosecuted in federal court. Iowa repealed its death penalty law in 1965. The last execution in Iowa was in 1963, when a man was hanged by the federal government for luring a doctor across the Mississippi River into Illinois and killing him.

Honken, one of the Midwest's early, large-scale producers of methamphetamine, was convicted last fall in the 1993 execution-style slayings of two dealers turned informants, Greg Nicholson and Terry DeGeus. He also was found guilty of killing Nicholson's girlfriend, Lori Duncan, and her daughters, Kandi, 10, and Amber, 6.

The jury decided Honken deserved the death penalty.

Honken was expected to be taken to a federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., to await his execution.


Dustin Honken gets death sentence

By Bob Link - The Globe Gazette

Friday, December 30, 2005

MASON CITY — The Britt man convicted of murdering five North Iowans more than a decade earlier was sentenced to death on Oct. 11.

Dustin Honken, 37, became the first person sentenced to death in Iowa in more than 40 years.

Moments before being sentenced Honken maintained his innocence, accusing the judge in his case of having a “death agenda.”

Honken was convicted in October 2004 of murder in the 1993 deaths of five North Iowans. He had not taken the stand to testify in that case.

U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett issued two sentences of death by lethal injection for Honken for his part in killing two young children. Honken was given sentences of life in prison for the murder of three adults.

“I have taken no persons’ lives,” Honken told Bennett during his sentencing, which lasted just over an hour. “You believe me guilty, but it is not so.”

Honken, who spoke after victims’ family members had their turns, admitted he had destroyed and withheld evidence, but said he only found out about the murders after the fact.

“I have committed many wrongs,” Honken said, “but never have I taken another life.”

Honken, one of the Midwest’s early, large-scale producers of nearly pure methamphetamine, started his operation in Arizona and brought the product to Iowa.

He was convicted in the execution-style slayings of two former dealers turned informants, Greg  Nicholson and Terry DeGeus.

He also was found guilty of killing Nicholson’s girlfriend, Lori Duncan, and her two daughters, Kandi, 10, and Amber, 6.

Nicholson, Duncan and her daughters disappeared from Duncan’s Mason City home in July 1993, just days before Honken was scheduled to plead guilty to drug charges. DeGeus of Britt disappeared months later.

Their bodies were found in late 2000 after Honken’s former girlfriend, Angela Johnson, scrawled a map of the graves that were just outside of Mason City and gave the map to a jailhouse informant.

Assistant U.S. Attorney C.J. Williams said the average length of appeal for federal death penalty cases is between six and seven years.

The last execution in Iowa took place on March 15, 1963, when Victor Feguer was hanged by the federal government at the Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison.

Feguer was convicted of luring a Dubuque doctor across the Mississippi River into Illinois and killing him.

Since then, only three federal prisoners — starting with Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh in June 2001 — have been executed, all at the federal prison in Terre Haute.

Honken was transported to the federal death row in Terre Haute in late October.


Timeline: Initial arrests in Honken cases made in March 1993

By Bob Link - The Globe Gazette

Sunday, July 27, 2003

March 21, 1993 - Britt native Dustin Honken and Timothy Cutkomp, formerly of Mason City, are arrested in Mason City on drug charges.

March 26, 1993 - Honken is indicted in federal court for alleged methamphetamine trafficking in Iowa from his residence, then in Tempe, Ariz.

April 20, 1993 - Greg Nicholson testifies against Honken before a federal grand jury.

July 3, 1993 - Angela Johnson of Klemme files an application for and obtains a permit to buy a handgun. Four days later, she purchases a Tech-9 9 mm handgun at a pawnshop in Waterloo.

July 26, 1993 - Nicholson and Nicholson's girlfriend, Lori Ann Duncan, 31, and her two daughters, 10-year-old Amber and 6-year-old Kandace, are reported missing.

Nov. 5, 1993 - Terry DeGeus, 32, of rural Britt, another potential witness in the investigation against Honken, is reported missing.

March 21, 1995 - The original charges against Honken are dismissed because witnesses could not be located.

Feb. 7, 1996 - Local, state and federal law enforcement officers execute a search warrant at Honken's Mason City home and discover a meth lab.

April 29, 1996 - Honken and Cutkomp are arrested in Mason City for conspiring to manufacture and distribute methamphetamine from 1993 to 1996.

June 11, 1996 - Chemicals used to manufacture methamphetamine are seized from as storage shed at Johnson's home.

June 2, 1997 - Honken pleads guilty to one count of conspiracy to manufacture and distribute methamphetamine and one count of attempting to manufacture the drug.

March 1994 - Cutkomp is sentenced to four years and six months on drug charges. The sentence was handed down after Cutkomp implicated Honken in manufacturing methamphetamine in 1996 and in the disappearance of Nicholson, DeGeus and the Duncans.

Sept. 11, 1997 - Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation agents excavate property in Hancock County, unsuccessfully attempting to locate the five missing persons.

Feb. 24, 1998 - Honken is sentenced to 24 years in prison. The sentence was later amended to two, 27-year concurrent prison terms.

October 2000 - Jailhouse informant Robert McNeese provides authorities with two maps, with information given to him by Johnson, pointing to two spots where the bodies were located. Both were being held in the Benton County Jail.

Oct. 13, 2000 - The remains of Lori Duncan, her daughters and Nicholson are discovered buried in a wooded area just off Cerro Gordo County Road S34 west of Mason City.

Nov. 8, 2000 - The body of DeGeus is discovered in a farm field one mile west of Burchinal. The state medical examiner determined all five people died of gunshot wounds.

July and August 2001 - Indictments charging Honken and Johnson with murder are issued. The federal murder charges qualify them for the death penalty.

Oct. 9, 2002 - Dustin Honken pleads innocent to charges of murder.

April 24, 2002 - U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett rules that any evidence found as a result of jailhouse notes from Robert McNeese inadmissible in the case against Johnson.

Feb. 13, 2003 - Federal prosecutors argue in an appeal that Robert McNeese was not a government agent when obtaining the two locations of the five murdered victims.

Feb. 18, 2003 - A federal judge denies a request to release the remains of the five victims, ruling the bodies are key evidence in the on-going cases.



Dustin Honken

Dustin Honken was a community college chemistry whiz who began manufacturing methamphetamines with his brother and a childhood friend in 1992. He sold several pounds of the deadly stimulant to two Iowa men, Terry DeGues and Greg Nicholson.

His drug dealing career didn’t last very long and Honken was arrested by federal authorities in March 1993. Over the spring and summer of that year, Honken and his attorney negotiated with the feds and Honken learned that Nicholson was cooperating with the government. Honken agreed to plead guilty to federal drug charges in July 1993.

However, the week before Honken was scheduled to appear in court for his plea, Nicholson disappeared along with his 32-year-old girlfriend Lori Duncan and her two daughters, Kandi, 10, and Amber, 6. Honken subsequently backed out of his guilty plea and with little evidence, the government was forced to drop its case.

In November 1993, DeGues also dropped off the face of the earth.

Although that case against Honken collapsed, he was nabbed again in 1996 and a year later pleaded guilty to meth dealing and got a 27-year prison sentence.

If he had been able to keep his mouth shut, Dustin Honken would have gotten away with murder. But behind bars, face is everything and Honken, a wussy little doormat of a con, had to talk tough to stay alive.

His first mistake was telling enough of the truth to other cons who immediately put it to their own use. Honken’s second screw-up was involving Angela Johnson in the killings.

Armed with Honken’s jailhouse confessions, authorities arrested Johnson on conspiracy and murder charges and put her in the Benton County, Iowa jail where she met Robert McNeese.

McNeese was on his way to prison to serve a life sentence for heroin delivery when Johnson began confiding in him that she was connected to multiple homicides. She wanted to kill one friend who had implicated her in the murders of the Duncans, DeGues and Nicholson, and was afraid that Dustin Honken was looking to eliminate her, as well.

On the stand at Johnson’s trial, McNeese admitted that he saw an opportunity to help himself by making believe he could help Johnson find someone else to take the fall for the crime.

“I told her I had been in prison a long time,” he said. “I knew a lot of people. I told her she would have to describe how the crimes were committed, what the people were wearing when they were killed and where the bodies were located.”

Johnson bit and provided all of the information McNeese wanted, including a map which led police to recover the bodies of Honken’s five victims.

When she learned she had been double-crossed, Johnson attempted suicide.

Eventually, Honken and Johnson would be put on trial and the truth about how their victims died would come out.

“I killed my rats,” Honken told federal prisoner Fred Tokars, who is serving life for murdering his wife.

Honken used Johnson to get to the victims. On July 25, 1993, she showed up at Duncan’s home posing as a cosmetics saleswoman who was lost. She let Johnson into her home and Honken followed, brandishing a handgun.

Tokars testified at Honken’s trial in 2004 that Johnson herded the Duncans into a bedroom while Honken forced Nicholson, who had worn a wire as a cooperating witness, to videotape a statement exonerating him.

The group was then tortured, bound, gagged and shot in the back of the head. Tokars testified that Honken told him in 1998 that Kandi and Amber Duncan saw their mother and Nicholson murdered. They were rats being raised by rats, Honken said.

A tape played at Honken’s trial, recorded by a cooperating inmate witness, reveals Honken enjoyed killing. “It’s like getting high,” he said.

The corpses were driven to a field southwest of Mason City and dumped in shallow graves.

Months later, Angela Johnson lured DeGeus to his death. Johnson called her former lover and asked him to meet her on Nov. 4, 1993, the last time he was seen. He was beaten to death with a baseball bat and shot several times.

During the penalty phase of Johnson’s trial, Lori Duncan’s brother recalled that his father blamed himself for his granddaughters’ deaths. The girls had wanted to stay overnight with him on July 25, 1993, but it was inconvenient for him at the time.

The man is haunted by the belief that “if he had watched the girls that night, they’d still be with us now,” his son said.

Two inmates provided the first allegations of how and why Duncan's children died.

Both men, who are serving life terms and who identified themselves as prison attorneys, said Honken told them about the murders while seeking legal advice during 1998 at a federal penitentiary in Florence, Colo.

Fred Tokars, serving a life sentence for murdering his wife in Georgia, testified that Honken told him the girls were present when Nicholson and Lori Duncan were strangled and that "they could have been witnesses."

Ron McIntosh, also with an extensive criminal record, testified that the children were strangled "because they wouldn't be quiet or wouldn't shut up."

Honken, with the aid of his girlfriend, Angela Johnson, beat and tortured Nicholson and killed him the day before he was scheduled to testify about Honken's drug-related activities. Duncan and her daughters disappeared the same day.

Four months later, DeGeus, 32, another informant, disappeared. The five bodies were found during 2000, buried in fields southwest of Mason City.

Tokars said Honken told him that he and Angela Johnson parked their car a couple of blocks away from Duncan's house and carried a rope and gun in a canvas bag to the house where Nicholson, Duncan and her daughters were living.

Tokars said Honken told him that Angela Johnson took Duncan and the children into another room while Honken videotaped Nicholson making a statement he hoped would exonerate him.

"Dustin said that when he was done taping, he hit Nicholson over the head with a pistol and strangled him," said Tokars.

Honken and Johnson then knocked Lori Duncan out, according to Tokars, hitting her with the pistol, and were strangling her when the children started screaming. Tokars said Honken told him the children were killed because of what they had seen in the house.

Tokars testified that Honken told him the bodies were loaded into the trunk of a car and driven to a construction area, where they were buried.

He said Honken once said a rope was used to strangle the victims but on another occasion said a cord was used.

Tokars also testified that Honken told him Johnson later arranged to meet DeGeus by telling him that she and Honken had broken up and that she wanted to talk about getting back together with DeGeus.

When DeGeus showed up at a remote location, Honken was with Johnson and they shot him to death, Tokars testified.

"He didn't say who shot him, just that he kept coming at them and wouldn't die, so they shot him multiple times," Tokars said.

McIntosh said Honken came to him for advice on several legal issues. One was about paying child support to two girlfriends, Kathy Rick, mother of Honken's son, and Angela Johnson, mother of his daughter.

While researching the child support issues, McIntosh said he learned that Honken had killed children. Only after McIntosh asked, Honken told him about the murders.

"I strangled the rat and his girlfriend," McIntosh said Honken told him. "Kate strangled the children because they wouldn't shut up."

Confused by the name "Kate," McIntosh said he asked Honken, "You mean the mother of your son suffocated the children?"

Honken replied, "No, the one that is the mother of my daughter," referring to Johnson, McIntosh testified.

McIntosh said he didn't want to know any more about the murders.

Tokars also testified that Honken asked him to contact someone from "The Dixie Mafia" to kill someone in the fall of 1998.

Tokars said Honken was "relentless and determined" to kill his former best friend Timothy Cutkomp, who cooperated with police in a 1996 drug case, which led to Honken's current 27-year prison sentence.



Convicted murderer keeps online journal about life in prison

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

MASON CITY (AP) --- A man facing the death penalty for the drug-related slayings of five people in northern Iowa is writing about his life in prison.

Dustin Honken, 38, formerly of Britt, is on death row in Terre Haute, Ind. He has been including journal entries on Death Row Speaks, an anti-death penalty Web site founded in 2001 by federal death row inmates. It was designed to increase awareness of the death penalty and other related issues. The site allows visitors to ask inmates questions.

Honken was convicted on federal charges of murder and conspiracy to conduct drug trafficking in 2004, and was sentenced to die.

Visitors to the Web site will find profiles, poems, artwork, essays and other materials contributed by death row inmates from across the country.

Honken's entries include thoughts about incarceration, his family and current events.

Inmates don't have access to computers or the Internet. They are contacted through the mail and the information is posted online.

The site also contains information on upcoming executions and the history of the death penalty.

Honken and his former girlfriend, Angela Johnson, 44, were convicted in the slayings of two federal drug informants who once sold methamphetamine for Honken.

One of the informants, Greg Nicholson of Mason City, disappeared in June 1993 along with his girlfriend, Lori Duncan, also of Mason City, and her two daughters, Kandace Duncan, 10, and Amber Duncan, 6.

The other informant, Terry DeGeus of Britt, disappeared months later.

Their bodies were discovered in two graves near Mason City in 2000 after Johnson gave information about the locations of the graves to a jailhouse informant.

Johnson also was sentenced to death and she is being held at a prison in Fort Worth, Texas.

Excerpts from Dustin Honken's Web journal

The following are excerpts as written from Dustin Honken's journal on Death Row Speaks:

August 3, 2006

I just got back from my visit with my kids. It would be impossible for me to explain the melancholy I feel. I visited with them, my mother, and my sister the last couple of days. The whole while I was talking with my kids I felt this great crushing weight of despair upon me for failing them so.

I was so utterly disgusted with myself this morning for being such a failure that it took every single ounce of my will just to move. I am so sick with myself for letting them down that I wish myself non-existent.

I can't think of no other point in my life where I have been so troubled as I have been over this past month. A tide of contempt for myself has assailed me for many days now. I have realized my unrivaled genius for throwing my life away, perhaps it is the only thing I have ever been good at.

I do not write for pity, I write to shame what is left of myself. With every fiber, I have wished to start anew, to turn right instead of left. But the past is immutable and madness counts those that dwell too long there.

I can say with the utter sincerity of a broken and humbled man that I deeply regret every single transgression I have ever done in my life no matter how small. When those people finally get around to killing me they'll realize only the shell of me remains, the heart of me died long ago.

August 10, 2006

It's two O'clock in the mourning and I'm still up. Why? Well, because some rotten no-good piece of work below my cell keeps pounding on his stainless steels shower wall every twenty minutes so none of us can go to sleep.

Even though he is on the floor below me it sounds like a gong going off in my room. He's doing it to get at some guy below him but in the process is torturing all of us around him. I hollered at him through the vent that connects our rooms to please stop banging on the shower but he just lied and blamed it on the guy below him he is beefing with.

He's a liar and a coward, real convicts do not do cell warrior stuff like that, they wait and deal with the problem when they can do physical combat. Just making noise or yelling slights at a person is what cowards do. Any real convict always considers other around him and conducts himself accordingly to not infringe upon others' prison time.

Over the years I've punished a few guys for being disrespectful, stupid, or for doing something to one of my friends. Several of them had no clue whatsoever that it was coming or that I was their enemy. I used to really enjoy punishing someone I disliked, but as I have gotten older I just want to be left alone, in peace.



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