Episode 71: The Body on the Island: The Final Days of Margaret Treese


In 1947, a woman’s mutilated body was found on Credit Island, near Davenport, Iowa. Little did investigators know, the case was going to be one of the most brutal crimes in the history of the region.


Margaret Treese. Courtesy of the Daily Democrat and Leader


Detectives investigate the body of Margaret Treese on Credit Island near Davenport, Iowa, in 1947. Courtesy of the Daily Democrat and Leader.


Pete Peterson. Courtesy of the Daily Democrat and Leader


William Brinkley. Courtesy of the Morning Democrat


“Margaret Beatrice Treese” –  Iowa Cold Cases – Margaret Treese

“The Tattooed Lady: Murder of Margaret Treese 1947” – by Nancy Bowers,  Iowa Unsolved Murders 

“Woman is Slain at Credit Island” – The Democrat and Leader, 9/30/1947

“Police Seek Sex Fiend in Brutal Murder” – The Daily Times, 9/30/1947

“Davenport Police Question Friends of Ms. Margaret Treese in Effot to Find Lead to Identity of Slayer” – The Daily Times, 10/1/1947

“Police Pursue New Leads in Search For ‘Slayer’ of Tattooed Lady” – Democrat and Leader, 10/1/1947

“Woman Who Died at Hand of Fiend May Have Sensed Death, Companion Reports” – Democrat and Leader, 10/2/1947

“Locate Slaying Victim’s Former Husband in East” – The Daily Times, 10/2/1947

“Police Unable to Obtain New Leads in Murder Probe” – The Daily Times, 10/3/1947

“Probe Argument In Which Slain Woman Took Part” – Democrat and Leader, 10/3/1947

“Nab Ex-Mental Patient In Trese Murder” – The Daily Times, 10/13/1947

“Suspect in Murder Of ‘Tattooed Woman’ Picked Up by Police” – Democrat and Leader, 10/13/1947

“Pete Petersen Released by Police Following Quiz in Treese Slaying; Cleared of Suspicion, Says Chief” – The Daily Times, 10/14/1947

“Free Petersen After Quiz in Murder Cases” – Democrat and Leader, 10/14/1947

“Lie Detector Test Clears Saunders of Complicity in Murder of Margaret Treese” – Democrat and Leader, 10/21/1947

“Men Implicated in Mystery Note With Treese Slaying Presents Air Tight Alibi” – Democrat and Leader, 10/27/1947.

“Local Authorities Await More Facts Before Acting to Return Confessed Killer” – Morning Democrat, 12/18/1951

Confessed Slayer Having Hard Time Convincing Police Here He Really Killed Tattooed Woman. The Morning Democrat, 12/19/1951

“Police Say Brinkley Wanted Free Ride Back To Iowa, Story of Murder Is Hoax” – The Daily Times, 12/21/1951

“Find New Evidence in Murder” – by Jim Arpy, Morning Democrat, 11/30/1956

“A bookshelf of Q-C mysteries – ‘Who killed the tattooed lady?’” – by Jim Arpy, Quad City Times, 8/19/1984

“Follow-up File: Violent Murder of ‘The Tattooed Lady’ remains mystery after 71 years” – by Thomas Geyer, Quad-City Times, 9/23/2018

State Historical Society of Iowa; Des Moines, Iowa; Iowa Death Records



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