Did Kidnapping Suspect Murder Iowa Cousins?

By: The Associated Press Email
By: The Associated Press Email

Evansdale, Iowa Police Chief Kent Smock said Thursday a dozen investigators are looking into whether the suspect in Monday's kidnapping of two girls is connected to last year's slaying of two cousins who vanished 90 miles away.

Authorities believe Michael Klunder kidnapped 15-year-old Kathlynn Shepard and her 12-year-old friend as they walked home from school. The 12-year-old was able to escape, but Kathlynn is still missing.

Bill Kietzman of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation said DNA tests confirm that blood found on the ground around a hog confinement facility where Shepard was taken belonged to the girl. He said her blood was also found on the tailgate of the suspect's truck. Kietzman said the blood was enough to show "that she probably sustained some injuries." He said the search continues for the teen, but hopes of finding her alive are now less promising.

Smock said investigators are now scrutinizing Klunder in connection with the deaths of Lyric Cook-Morrissey and Elizabeth Collins because of similarities in the cases. The cousins were 10 and 8 when they disappeared while riding bikes last July. Their bodies were found in December.

Smock said investigators are "exploring anything and everything" about Klunder, a registered sex offender who committed suicide earlier this week.

The 12-year-old told the Dayton (Iowa) Leader and Iowa Public Radio that they'd gotten off their school bus when a man asked if they wanted to make money mowing lawns. He promised he'd give them a ride to ask their parents. She said she knew something was wrong when they went to a hog confinement facility. She escaped when their abductor took Kathlynn to another part of the property, running through the woods until she found farmers.

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