Three people have been arrested in connection with the murders of two elderly Iowans in Crawford County. Twenty-six-year-old Michael Schenk, 19-year-old Jayden Chapman and 36-year-old Erika Haberberger-Dains are in custody.
The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation says the suspects were likely on the property to steal scrap metal.
One of the victims is identified as 80-year-old Marvin Huelsing of Carroll County. The second victim is presumed to be 81-year-old Alice Huisenga, also of Carroll County.
They were found Monday in a burning mobile home south of Deloit, Iowa.
Autopsies were performed on both victims and authorities say they have positively identified Mr. Huelsing. Ms. Huisenga’s positive identification is pending DNA confirmation.
Mr. Huesling's death has been ruled a homicide due to multiple gunshot wounds. The State Medical Examiner has ruled that Ms. Huisenga’s death was, “a result of homicidal violence.” Investigators have not elaborated on the details of her death.
Dan Dawson, with the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation, said, “It’s kind of shocking and really sad. The bottom line, you have two 80-year-old individuals who want to be able to grow old and die a natural death. They don’t want their final hours, final minutes, to be shot and burned. It’s a horrible way to die.”
The suspects were all arrested on Thursday morning and all three have been charged with First-Degree Murder and one count each of First-Degree Arson.
The town of Deloit is filled with farms and fields, many so remote there aren't a lot of neighbors nearby. That’s why Gaylor Reetz thought it strange when he heard loud booms around 12:45 p.m. Monday.
“I got up and looked out and saw a big cloud of smoke. In fact, two clouds of smoke.” He called 911. When firefighters arrived, they found a building and a pickup engulfed in flames.
Reetz said the odd thing was that the burning pickup wasn’t anywhere near the trailer. “What's going on? Two fires at one time? It didn't make sense."
Reetz told WOWT 6 News that an 80-year-old man owns the farm and would often go there and work on the fields with his sister-in-law, then go home. “He was a good guy," Reetz said.
A community now on edge after learning exactly what happened that led up to the double homicide on Monday along Milford Road. A road closed sign has since gone up; several neighbors in the area say they are startled and disturbed.
"In a small town like this you always feel safe, but this always alerts you to what's out there in the real world,” Dudley Preul said.
Just down the road from Dudley Preul's home, a scene of destruction and a jolting reminder of what took place on Monday. A picture from the county assessor's web site reveals what once was.
Investigators say three people were scavenging the property for scrap metal and for some reason, killed the property owner and a woman and burned their bodies.
"My first thought was there isn't enough scrap metal in the world to make do a double homicide and ruin my life over that,” Preul said.
It's unsettling for Preul and “Buddy” because all three suspects are from neighboring Denison less than ten minutes from his front porch. People in Denison say they saw a heavy police presence late Wednesday night, including a plane flying low and circling the town. The three accused killers arrested Thursday morning.