Investigation Discovery’s ‘Murder in the Heartland: Invitation To Be Killed’ chronicles how a meth kingpin, Dustin Lee Honken, killed two informants and their loved ones to prevent them from testifying against him in his federal drug trial. The murders took place in Iowa in July and November 1993. Termed Iowa’s ‘Walter White’ due to the startling similarities with the popular character, Dustin was arrested after his recruits and partner double-crossed him. So, who were Dustin’s victims, and what happened to the drug kingpin? Let’s find out.
Who Were Dustin Lee Honken’s Victims?
Terry Scott DeGeus was born to Edward and JoAnn DeGeus in Charles City in Floyd County, Iowa, on November 19, 1960. He graduated from West Hancock High School in 1980 — a record holder in pole vaulting and enjoyed being a member of the wrestling team in junior high. Some of his hobbies were playing pool, hanging out with his friends, and spending quality time with his children. He worked for Holland Construction in Forest City and later drove a semi for Schmidt Trucking of Britt.
Terry also drove a truck for Bud Ranken and Bud Schrotter. On November 5, 1993, Terry dropped off his daughter, Ashley DeGeus-Henken, then 10, at his mother’s home and told JoAnn he would come to pick Ashley up shortly afterward. He also informed his mother that he was meeting his former girlfriend, Angela Johnson. Terry never returned, and his body was found seven years later in a field outside Mason City in 2000. He was lying face down in a shallow hole with a severely fragmented skull, having been shot one or more times.
Lori Ann Milbrath Duncan was born to Marge Milbrath in Mason City in Cerro Gordo County, Iowa, on November 22, 1961. The single mother was a Navy veteran, an Elvis Presley fan, and tended to find the good in people. She was also utterly devoted to her two daughters — Kandace D. Duncan and Amber J. Duncan — her family and hometown. The good-hearted Lori allowed a new friend, Greg Nicholson, to move into her home, knowing he had dealt drugs before but believing he was in rehab and willing to give him a break in 1993.
According to court testimonies, Marge last saw her daughter on July 25, 1993, while driving to the grocery store. She told the jury how her 31-year-old daughter waved and smiled at her, and she also saw one of her granddaughters, Kandi, then 10, clad in her prized sundress. Her other grandchild, Amber, 6, was inside the house. However, Marge panicked when she drove by Lori’s apartment the following day, on July 26. The drapes were drawn, and cars near the house were parked chaotically, which was uncharacteristic of her daughter.
Marge and her husband drove by later and let themselves in after feeling convinced something was wrong. They found no signs of a struggle inside — no blood or furniture in disarray — except for an unfinished dinner on the kitchen table. The elderly couple noticed a few things missing but nothing significant, almost like Lori had packed hurriedly. They also discovered a note addressed to the neighbor, stating, “Phyllis, we had to leave on short notice. I will be in touch shortly. Love, Lori.”
It further cemented the idea that Lori and her children might have planned for a hasty getaway. Yet, Marge knew foul play was involved as she never heard from her daughter or grandchildren again. But the authorities could not find the bodies to prove they had been murdered. Around seven years later, the police found the Duncan family and Greg’s bodies buried in a single hole, which was located in a wooded area outside Mason City in 2000.
They had all been shot at least once at close range, execution-style, in the back of the head. Kandi and Amber each had a single bullet hole in the back of their heads. Amber was still wearing her swimsuit with the T-shirt pulled over her face, and Kandi adorned her prized sundress. Greg and Lori were bound, gagged, and shot multiple times, including once in the head. The police found Terry’s body in a field a few miles from the crime scene.
How Did Dustin Lee Honken Die?
Dustin Lee Honken was born in Britt, Iowa, on March 22, 1968, and suffered from an abusive childhood. His biological father, Jim Honken, allegedly beat him, was an alcoholic, and served time in federal prison after committing multiple bank robberies. Dustin earned a scholarship to North Iowa Area Community College in 1991 and had initially planned to become a pharmaceutical lawyer. But he soon started selling marijuana and cocaine and decided to become both a drug manufacturer and a dealer with his knowledge of chemistry.
Dustin switched to meth, enlisting the help of his best friend, Tim Cutkomp, and moved to Arizona to set up his drug empire. They recruited two drug dealers — Terry DeGeus and Greg Nicholson — to sell their meth in northeast Iowa. During one of their drug runs, Dustin met Angela Johnson, Terry’s erstwhile girlfriend, and the two struck up a business relationship that soon evolved into a romantic one. However, Dustin and Tim were arrested on federal drug trafficking charges in March 1993.
While studying legal documents, Dustin learned Greg had become an informant after being caught with almost 150 grams of pure meth inside his apartment. He had worn a wire, recorded Dustin making drug deals, and handed the recordings to the authorities in exchange for a lenient prison term. According to court documents, Angela bought a gun on July 7, 1993, and she and Dustin began hunting Greg down, with him divorcing his ex-wife and moving in with Lori and her children.
On July 24, Dustin and Angela broke into Lori’s home, forced Greg to record a statement claiming Dustin was innocent, and abducted him and the Duncan family at gunpoint. They drove the hostages to a wooded area outside the city and shot them execution-style. When the authorities learned Dustin had changed his plea and Greg was missing, they wanted Terry to become an informant. Angela lured Terry in under the pretense of building their broken relationship, and the drug kingpin and her girlfriend fatally shot him dead too.
While in prison, Angela confessed to the murders to a jailhouse snitch, supplying all the details and a hand-drawn map of the bodies’ location — all handed over to the authorities. Dustin and Angela were charged with the murders in 2001, with Dustin being convicted of all 17 counts against him, including five counts of murder, on October 14, 2004. He was formally sentenced to death on October 11, 2005. After all appeals and injunctions were dismissed by various courts over the years, the 52-year-old was executed by lethal injection in the US Penitentiary in Terre Haute on July 17, 2020.
Read More: Where is Angela Johnson Now?