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Purk pleads innocent to 1st degree murder charge

January 4, 2017
By John Speer - Editor ( , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

Tait Otis Purk entered a written plea of not guilty to 1st degree murder of Cora Ann Okonski in Tama County District Court in Toledo on Wednesday, Dec. 28.

Judge Mitchell E. Turner set a pre-trial conference for Feb., 9, 2017 and a jury trial to begin on Feb. 21, 2017. Bond for Purk was continued at $1 million and he is now being held in the Marshall County Jail.

Purk, 50, was indicted by a Tama County Grand Jury on Dec. 2, 2016. Okonski, then age 23, vanished in April of 2000 from Tama. Okonski and Purk planned to be married in May of that year.

Article Photos

Tait Otis Purk during an appearence before Magistrate Ann Kuhter at the Courthouse in Toledo on Dec. 21.
Chronicle/John Speer

Okonski's disappearance continued to be investigated by law enforcement including Tama Police over the years. The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation said in a news release issued in November of last year the case had been reclassified as a homicide. The release said agents described as having significant knowledge working cold cases renewed efforts in April of 2015 had based the new status on "additional discoveries."

The release said DCI agents worked with the Iowa Attorney General's Office, Tama County Attorney's Office and Sheriff's Department, and Tama Police in the investigation.

Purk has been serving an unrelated federal prison sentence on a drug charge at the Ft. Leavenworth federal prison and is scheduled for release in April, 2107.



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