"Are the police looking for me?" she asked her friend on the phone.

It was mid-June 1962, and the Sonoma County sheriff's office was indeed looking for her...sort of. An arrest warrant was issued even though they weren't sure of the woman's name (was it Eva Long or Iva Kroeger?) where she might be (she was last seen in a taxi headed for Cotati) or what she looked like (she had taken all known photos with her when she vanished).

The warrant was for an assault with a deadly weapon because she pulled a gun on a tradesman who was owed money, but there was a growing clamor for her to be investigated in the disappearance of Mildred and Jay Arneson. Six months had passed since they went missing and Eva/Iva was the prime suspect, having taken over the Arneson's motel business and peddled lies or contradictory stories about what she knew. Yet while the sheriff still believed the elderly couple would turn up someday, the family and their lawyer kept gathering evidence which convinced them the Arnesons were dead. All that (and more!) was covered in the first chapter, "MURDER MOTEL ON SANTA ROSA AVE."

When Eva fled Santa Rosa on May 23 she left her friend Mrs. Kelly in charge the motel. She had met the Kellys five years earlier in San Francisco, when their son was in Cub Scouts and Eva/Iva was the Den Mother. (Let's pause for a moment to digest that unexpected factoid.) When deputies arrived the next day to make an arrest Mrs. Kelly told them her friend was then known as Iva Kroeger - which was indeed her legal name. Unsure which was an alias, the Press Democrat and other papers took to calling her Mrs. Eva Long-Kroeger.

As mentioned previously, the search for the Arnesons didn't begin in earnest until the Press Democrat launched its investigative series on July 1. The paper found that after Iva left Santa Rosa she headed for the San Francisco home she shared with husband Ralph Kroeger. She stayed there with him for a day before taking off, supposedly returning to Santa Rosa.

The thread that weaved through each part of this story was Iva Kroeger's astonishing Svengali-like powers to get others to do her bidding even when it was against their own best interests, and Ralph was no exception - see sidebar.

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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