Boone, IA – Police believe the body found in the river beneath the Kate Shelley High Bride is that of Kathlynn Shepard. An autopsy is expected to be performed today to confirm the identity. Fishermen discovered the body on Friday. The clothes on the body match the clothes that Kathlynn was wearing the day of her abduction. Police also discovered zip ties similar to the ones that were used to restrain Dezi Huges.
On May 20, Shepard and 12-year-old, Dezi Hughes, were abducted on their way home from school. Dezi was able to escape and alert authorities. The suspect, Michael Klunder, is a registered sex offender. According to Boone Police, Klunder committed suicide hours after the abduction.
For days, officers and volunteers searched for Kathlynn hoping to find her alive. Their optimism began to fade when police confirmed that Kathlynn’s blood was found in Klunder’s truck and a hog facility where he had both girls bound.
Klunder served 20 years of a 41 year sentence for two separate kidnappings. In 1992, he kidnapped and assaulted a woman after he persuaded her to leave her car under the pretense that she was missing a tail light. He also abducted two three-year-old children from a Charles City apartment complex. The children were found hours later, alive, in a secluded garbage bin.
Klunder was released from Prison in February of 2011. Since his release, he married, and lived within 500 feet of an elementary school. Neighbors in this small community are wondering how this could happen.
“It’s a scary thing, and someone who has been in trouble like this before definitely should not live near an elementary school. It’s a scary thing and I am sure all the parents — especially in a small town like this will agree with that,” said parent Savannah Lee.
According to Des Moines KCCI news, Klunder was able to live so close to the school because of a caveat in state law. The offense that put him on the state’s sex offender registry was against an adult and thus exempted him from residency restrictions.
After Sarah Binder, Stratford Superintendent of Schools, received this information, she registered online to have sex offender notifications to be sent to her.
“I feel better and I now have a system in place to notify the school district on a regular basis of people moving in and people moving out,” said Binder.
Police are now pondering, if Klunder is connected to the kidnapping and slaying of the two cousins abducted in Evansdale last year. Dayton is about 90 miles from there, and the bodies were found near a location where Klunder once lived in a home for emotionally disturbed youth.
Klunder’s early release and repeat offense has a lot of people questioning the system.
“It is confusing for the public, and especially for victims, when they hear that someone has a 40 year sentence and in 20 years they’re walking out the door,” said Fred Scaletta, Iowa Department of Corrections spokesman.
By: Veverly Edwards