Investigators Still Probing Possible Klunder, Evansdale Murder Connection

By Erin Jordan, Reporter

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By Denisse Rauda

BLACK HAWK COUNTY, Iowa -- Investigators are still probing whether Michael Klunder, a registered sex offender who authorities say kidnapped two central Iowa girls last month before hanging himself, was involved in the murders of two eastern Iowa cousins last year.

“Investigators are still tracking his actions and whereabouts around the date of the disappearance and are sifting through information to try and determine whether there is or is not any connection,” Rick Abben, Black Hawk County Sheriff's chief deputy, said in a statement Friday.

Klunder, 42, of Stratford, abducted two Dayton girls May 20 as they got off the school bus. One girl escaped, but 15-year-old Kathlynn Shepard is still missing. Klunder hanged himself the evening of May 20. Investigators found Kathlynn's blood on his body, truck and at the hog confinement facility where he took the girls.

The case bears similarities to the July abduction of Elizabeth Collins, 8, and Lyric Cook-Morrissey, 10, from Evansdale. The cousins’ bodies were found in December in a wildlife area in Bremer County.

Investigators started last month looking through old evidence, reports and information about Klunder, including his cellphone records, to see whether he could be linked to the Evansdale murders. Officials have declined to say whether DNA evidence was found with Elizabeth’s and Lyric’s bodies.

"We don't want to reveal information that jeopardizes our investigation," Evansdale Police Chief Kent Smock said last month.

Klunder’s actions continue to be an area of interest for Black Hawk County investigators, Abben said Friday, but “he is not the sole focus of our attention. Other leads continue to be uncovered and investigators continue to follow up on any and all information that comes in.”

Klunder was convicted of kidnapping two 3-year-old girls in 1991 and assaulting a 21-year-old woman the same year. He served 19 years in prison for those non-fatal crimes and was released in 2011.

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