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Donald Harstad

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Visit the Clayton County Sheriff's Department (Iowa) Website

Code Sixty-One: A Novel
Donald Harstad  More Info

Known Dead: A Novel
Donald Harstad  More Info

A Long December
Donald Harstad  More Info

The Big Thaw
Donald Harstad  More Info

Eleven Days
Donald Harstad  More Info

Known Dead
Donald Harstad  More Info

Don Harstad, Vietnam veteran, joined the Clayton County Sheriff’s Department in 1974.  During his 26 years with the sheriff’s department he has been a patrol officer, investigator and the Deputy Sheriff.  Donald Harstad’s first novel, Eleven Hours, introduced the character of Carl Houseman, a deputy sheriff working in the Midwest.


According to Lesley Dunlap, of the Mystery Reader, Eleven Hours is a classic page turner.  “I had my finger poised on the on the edge of each page to flip to the next in a split-second,” Dunlap said.  Dunlap went on to outline Harstad first novel:


“It's nearly midnight in mid-April. There is still ice and snow on the roads and the fields. The communications center of a small northeastern Iowa sheriff's department receives an hysterical call from a woman informing them that murders are being committed at an isolated farmhouse.”


“Houseman discovers the body of a man and his gravely injured dog. He is soon joined by another deputy. Exploring the crime scene, they are puzzled to see items that indicate strange religious practices. Not long afterwards, three more gruesomely mutilated bodies are discovered at a nearby farmhouse.”


“It soon becomes apparent that these crimes are linked to Satanic practices. The investigation will expand to involve the state police and a specialist from the New York Police Department. The officers uncover the horrifying details of Satan worship which seems to include ritual sacrifice of a baby. Over the course of eleven days, the quiet existence of this rural community will be disrupted as the sordid details of the lives of the residents are gradually revealed.”

About the Clayton County Sheriff’s Department:

John W. Griffith was the first sheriff of Clayton County, and was appointed on the organization of the county and continued in office by the vote of the people at its first election. Mr. Griffith was one of the first settlers of the county, and as Sheriff took its first census. He served until 1841.


In 1980 Ronald Rumph was nominated Sheriff and remained in office until 1985. At that time the Sheriff received a yearly salary of $21,000. It was a requirement for this sheriff and many before him, that they reside at the jail to maintain control of all inmates, and the upkeep or maintenance foo the premise.


In late 1985 Verdean L. Dietrich was appointed Sheriff and remained in office until 2001 when he left office. He did not have to reside in the jail but appointed a jail administrator and he and his family resided above the jail until the early 1990's. The number of deputies under Verdean numbered nine, plus Sheriff Dietrich. Their jobs ranged from serving civil papers to covering accidents and domestic fights, assaults, ect.


The Clayton County Jail was located approximately four blocks from the Clayton County Courthouse in a facility constructed in 1870. The original building is a two story stone masonry structure, which includes the sheriff's residence. The building was renovated in 1979 with the first floor of the original sheriff's residence converted into administrative spaces and the jail area extensively remodeled. A new one-story addition for administrative functions was also added to the facility in 1979.


In November of 2005 the citizens of Clayton County voted on a bond to build a new Law Enforcement Center. In the spring of 2006 a ground breaking ceremony took place and construction began. The new Law Enforcement Center (LEC) will holds 40 inmates compared to the 8 inmates the jail currently holds. An open house for the new LEC was held at the end of July 2006. A new LEC was needed because over the last several years the current jail has failed several inspections due to its age security issues.





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