A "Wanted" bulletin for Iva M. Kroeger was issued by the San Francisco Police Department on Sept. 6, 1962. Kroeger, who had more than 10 aliases, was wanted for two counts of murder. (Courtesy photo)
Iva Kroeger had an obsession with nursing. Her first arrest, in 1945, was for impersonating a nurse, and she often worked in nursing homes. Perhaps opposites attract. Nurses heal, Kroeger killed.
Paul Drexler of the San Francisco Examiner newspaper reports that Kroeger first came to Santa Rosa detective John Coffman’s attention in December 1961, when he was asked to investigate the disappearance of a Santa Rosa motel owner named Mildred Arneson. Arneson was a nurse who had became a successful real estate investor. She lived with her husband, Jay, a retired Army Major, disabled with Parkinson’s disease.
A believer in spiritualism, Arneson had told her family she was going to South America with a fellow spiritualist named Iva Long. When Coffman went to the motel, he found that Long was now running it. Long confirmed that Arneson was somewhere in South America, but denied that she had ever planned to accompany Arneson on her trip. Long said she was taking care of Arneson’s husband until she returned.
Long claimed she was a psychic and astrologer and offered to foretell Coffman’s future if he gave her a lock of his hair. Although Long’s wild stories made Coffman suspicious, the deed transferring the motel to Ida Long appeared to be genuine, and the investigation stalled.
In February 1962, Jay Arneson disappeared. Long said he had been picked up by two Mexicans in a Cadillac and taken to a nursing home somewhere in Southern California.
The investigation picked up steam in May of that year, when Long pulled a gun on a repairman who was trying to collect an overdue bill. As police arrived, Long slipped into a cab and disappeared. Further investigation revealed that her real name was Iva Kroeger, and that she had a police record going back to 1945.