Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Search Intensifies for Missing Abducted Iowa Teen

A photo of Kathlynn Shepard released by police; inset: Michael Klunder from his listing on iowasexoffenders.com. Full-size image below.

A photo of Kathlynn Shepard released by police; inset: Michael Klunder from his listing on iowasexoffenders.com. Full-size image below.

The search for missing, abducted teen Kathlynn Shepard, 15, has intensified after the man believed to have been her abductor, Michael Klunder, 42, was found dead four hours after her abduction. Investigators are also looking for a connected between this abduction and the 2012 abduction and murder of two Iowa cousins.

Kathlynn and another young girl, 12, were abducted from a bus stop in Dayton, Iowa, on May 20, 2013, after accepting a ride from a strange man around 4 p.m. The abductor took the girls to what is vaguely being called an agricultural facility, where the younger girl managed to escape. She got help from the residents of a rural home nearby.

At 8 p.m. the body of Klunder, a registered sex offender, was found near a red Toyota Tundra pickup truck on a rural property about 60 miles north of Des Moines. His death has been ruled a suicide. According to his listing on the Iowa Sex Offender Registry, Michael had a conviction for third-degree kidnapping of an adult female. According to Globegazzette.com, however he was convicted of abducting and assaulting the woman in December 1991. Also he was convicted of abducting two female toddlers, Brittney Koster and Trisha Schmitt, both 3, on Dec. 6, 1991. The girls were later found safe in a dumpster, though medical testimony at Klunder’s trial claimed that one of the girls had been choked. For these crimes Klunder was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

As searchers scour the area from the air, in the water, with the help of dogs, and even with the use of heat-seeking equipment, investigators are examining the eerie similarities between this abduction and that of cousins, Lyric Cook, 10, and Elizabeth Collins, 9, who were abducted in July 2012 while riding their bikes in Evansdale, Iowa, about 90 miles east of Dayton. The cousins’ bodies were found by hunters in December of that year in a wooded area. No confirmation of any link between the cases has been made.

Kathlynn is described as 5-feet-6-inches tall and weighing 160 pounds. She has blond hair, blue eyes and wears braces. She was last seen wearing jeans, a gray hooded sweatshirt and a Minnesota Vikings baseball cap.

A photo of Kathlynn Shepard released by police; inset: Michael Klunder from his listing on iowasexoffenders.com. Full-size image below.

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