Iva Kroeger was headed to Santa Rosa, she told a friend after she arrived back in the Bay Area in mid-August, 1962. "I'm tired."

She didn't make it, but what she intended to do here was unknown. Did she expect to resume managing the fleabag motel on Santa Rosa Avenue? Was she not aware the Sonoma County sheriff and the FBI were looking for her? Didn't she know the Press Democrat - and other Bay Area newspapers - were printing investigative stories linking her to the disappearance of the Arnesons?

Or maybe she wasn't planning to return to Santa Rosa at all; the context was asking the friend for money to buy bus tickets. Iva was a fluent liar and adept at making up tales to grub cash out of everyone who was unfortunate enough to cross her path.

But she was likely telling the truth about feeling tired. She had just finished a 7,000+ mile trek across the nation and back again via trains, Greyhound buses and lifts from strangers, with her two grandsons (ages three and four) in tow for the cross-country return journey.

This article is in two parts; it begins with the story of that wild trip which can be told thoroughly for the first time, thanks to modern resources such as Ancestry and the availability of many regional newspapers on newspapers.com. The final section describes the three weeks between the discovery of the bodies and her arrest, when many developed a maniac obsession over the case and imagined they were seeing Iva everywhere. Before we begin all that, Gentle Reader will surely find her pre-Santa Rosa backstory illuminating:

The deepest secret of Iva Kroeger was the lie she told about her origins. In Santa Rosa she claimed to have been born in Munich Germany and sometimes added she was Jewish. She spoke in broken English and cocked her head to one side when reading or listening to someone, as if she struggled to understand the language.

In truth, she was born Lucille Cecilia Hooper at Louisville, Kentucky in September, 1918, which made her 43 when she murdered the couple and became a fugitive six months later. She married in November 1934 at age sixteen; she lied on the marriage license and said she was 19. Her husband was nearly twice as old and they had two sons while she was still a teenager. 

The rest of this article can be read at the SantaRosaHistory.com website. Because of recurring problems with the Blogger platform, I am no longer wasting my time formatting and posting complete articles here. I will continue to create stubs for the sake of continuity, but will be publishing full articles only at SantaRosaHistory.com.

- Jeff Elliott


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