Council Bluffs Police arrest boyfriend of woman found dead in ditch in February

Investigation still open as court documents detail cell phone data, a bank deposit, and a crushed and shredded truck
A Council Bluffs man has been jailed in connection with a missing woman's death earlier this year.
Published: May. 24, 2023 at 12:27 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (WOWT) - Council Bluffs Police on Wednesday arrested a 61-year-old man on charges connected to the death of a 60-year-old woman who went missing earlier this year.

While the case remains active, police said Ivan Samuel Brammer is facing charges of abuse of a corpse, a charge generally made in connection with dumping a body; and second-degree theft in relation to the disappearance of his girlfriend, Ilene Gowan.

Ivan Samuel Brammer
Ivan Samuel Brammer(Council Bluffs Police Department)

Gowan was reported missing on Feb. 15 after her daughter told police that she hadn’t been seen or heard from for two days.

Eleven days later, on Feb. 26, Gowan was found dead in a ditch near 152nd Street and Old Morman Bridge Road, near Crescent. The Iowa Medical Examiner’s Office said the her autopsy did not indicate a cause or manner of death.

Witnesses told police that the pair had an “on-again, off-again” relationship that they categorized as volatile, with verbal fights set off by alcohol. One said Brammer had choked Gowan “during a loud argument.” They also said that an argument over money had caused Brammer to kick her out of their shared apartment about a week before she went missing.

Court documents state that her body was found in the same clothing she had last been seen wearing, and that several personal items were missing, including her glasses, her purse and cell phone, one shoe, and a small safe containing $1,200 cash.

According to court documents, Gowan had been seen on video leaving with Brammer in his pickup on Feb. 13. Police said he had initially told them that he had picked her up at 8:30 a.m., then drove her to the home of an acquaintance she was staying with before returning home — but that there was no evidence he dropped her off there.

“This was proven to be a false statement and each interview after, when presented with inaccuracies in his previous statements, Brammer would change his story to conform to the facts presented,” the documents state, noting he had been interviewed by authorities four times between Feb. 15-24.

Family had told 6 News in February that a warrant had been issued to search Brammer’s apartment and that his pickup was missing.

On Feb. 25, Brammer had his truck crushed and shredded at a salvage yard in Carter Lake, the records state.

Authorities say video recordings from the morning of Feb. 13 show Gowan with Brammer from about 8:30-9:30 a.m., then show Brammer leaving Council Bluffs for about an hour between 9:30 and 10:30 a.m. and returning with Gowan “awkwardly slumped in the passenger seat.” When his vehicle is spotted again on video just after 11 a.m., Brammer is alone in the truck.

Phone records also indicate that both of their phones had been turned off or placed in “airplane mode” at approximately the same location at 10:59 a.m., then come back online together at 12:35 p.m., the records state. Text messages are exchanged between the phones, again located in the same proximity, between 1:30 and 2:45 p.m. that afternoon.

According to the police affidavit dated Tuesday, May 23, he was also seen putting several unknown items into a dumpster on Feb. 13 and depositing $1,200 cash into his bank account on Feb. 15.