Investigators Find Blood Evidence In Search for Abducted Girl

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By Aaron Hepker

DAYTON, Iowa — New information was provided at a news conference Thursday afternoon in the case of a missing Iowa girl from Dayton.

Kathlynn Shepard has been missing since 4 p.m. Monday. She was abducted with a 12-year-old girl who escaped and got help. Anyone with information is asked to call the Webster County Sheriff's Office at 515-573-1410.

Authorities said they are asking for more volunteer help to search on Friday.

DCI Special Agent Bill Kietzman said blood evidence belonging to Shepard was found at one of the locations as well as on the inside of the tailgate of Klunder's pickup truck. The location is where the 12-year-old escaped at a hog confinement.

Kietzman said from the evidence authorities believe that Shepard was injured.

Authorities plan to expand the search to the north and west of Dayton due to new information that Klunder may have also been in that area.

Anyone who saw a red Toyota truck in the Dayton area Monday should contact law enforcement to report where they saw the truck and when.

Searchers also found Klunder's gun Wednesday where the 12-year-old told them they would find it.

Authorities are asking the public to search their properties and buildings on their properties.

The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation said it will provide additional information about evidence found in and around the various locations where Michael Klunder and Shepard visited the day of the abduction.

Authorities said Thursday that the State Medical Examiner is releasing the autopsy report on Michael Klunder, the man authorities said abducted the girls. The report shows Klunder died of suicide by hanging. He was found dead on the day of the abduction about four hours after the girls disappeared. He was found at a hog confinement building.

Kietzman said Klunder's wife has been cooperating with the investigation and is not a suspect in the case.

"We are not giving up hope on Kathlynn," said Kietzman.

He said 140 law enforcement volunteers plus others are searching Thursday.

Workers in hazmat suits were seen entering a hog confinement Thursday afternoon near Dayton where Dezi Hughes escaped on Monday. The property has been searched before.

Other search teams were located down near the town of Fraser where the girls' backpacks were found on Tuesday. Teams of searchers were checking farm fields, ditches and wooded areas for any evidence that might be related to the case.

Authorities issued a call for volunteers Thursday morning. If you want to volunteer to help search or provide resources call the Webster County Emergency Manager's Office at 515-571-6483 -- leave message with your name, contact number and resources available.

The 12-year-old girl who Michael Klunder is suspected of kidnapping is talking about the ordeal publicly for the first time with the Dayton Leader and Iowa Public Radio.

Dayton Leader reported the victim said Klunder pulled his truck over to talk to the girls and said they could earn some money mowing lawns.

The girl said Klunder then offered to drive the girls home, but ended up taking both to the hog confinement where he worked. She said that Klunder zip-tied her hands and took Kathlynn to another area on the grounds.

That's when she escaped. She told the Daily Leader, "He had a gun, but he left it. I took it and hid in the woods. I just kept running."

Her family said they are helping investigators in the search for Kathlynn.

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