Police Investigate Dayton-Evansdale Abductions Connection

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By Aaron Hepker

DAYTON, Iowa —The family of a 12-year-old who escaped from Michael Klunder believes the man is capable of kidnapping and killing two cousins in Evansdale.

Authorities said two sets of girls about the same age vanished just months apart in two northern Iowa towns about 100 miles away from each other.

Investigators said three girls, Lyric Cook and Elizabeth Collins from Evansdale and Kathlynn Shepard from Dayton, died. The fourth girl, Dezi Hughes, managed to escape the Dayton kidnapping.

"We would still be looking for them, I believe. And we wouldn't know who, what, when, why or how," said Hughes' mother, Jeanette Andrews. “And (Klunder would have) moved on to the next set. I don't think he was ever going to stop."

Klunder already served 19 years in prison for two kidnappings and assault. His history and the similarities between Dayton and Evansdale are why law enforcement is investigating where he was when the Evansdale cousins disappeared.

"Of course, they will be looking for anything they can get out of cellphone records, any witnesses can say they were there or identify the vehicle," said police consultant William Moulder.

Moulder, who is not connected to the cases, said investigators are also tracking Klunder’s work schedule, purchases to his credit cards, DNA evidence, and the way in which the girls were killed to determine if Klunder is also behind the deaths of the Evansdale cousins.

Moulder said finding a connection will take luck, time and solid police work.

"It's running down all the possible connections, and then making sure there are no other alternative explanations for those connections," said Moulder.

Moulder points to one specific piece of evidence in the Dayton case -- the zip ties that Klunder used on the girls. He said investigators will definitely be looking to see if those were also used in Evansdale.

Hughes, who escaped in Dayton, has not said if Klunder mentioned anything about Evansdale.

The Evansdale police chief said a few weeks ago that they would know soon if there is a connection. However, they have started to back off on that timeline.
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