Police Apprehend Manchester Double Murder Suspect in Cedar Rapids

KCRG/Gazette Staff Reports

Law enforcement officers stand on railroad tracks behind Dave Wright Subaru on Monday, May 14, 2012, in northeast Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Isaiah Sweet was captured by law enforcement. Sweet is suspected in the deaths of 55-year-old Richard Sweet and his 62-year-old wife, Janet. Their bodies were found Sunday afternoon. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette-KCRG)


By Kara Kelly

Manchester Death Investigation
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MANCHESTER, Iowa – The hunt for 17-year-old wanted in connection with the weekend slayings of his grandparents came to an end just after 7 p.m. Monday night following his arrest in a wooded area in northeast Cedar Rapids.

Isaiah Sweet, who faces two counts of first degree murder, was taken into custody following a short foot chase with officers along railroad tracks just south of Blairs Ferry Road between Center Point and Council Street. Officers spent nearly two hours conducting an organized search in the area following a tip that he was in the area.

Officials issued an arrest warrant on Monday charging Isaiah Sweet as an adult with two counts of first-degree murder. Sweet is suspected in the deaths of 55-year-old Richard Sweet and his 62-year-old wife, Janet. Their bodies were found Sunday afternoon.

The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation says autopsies were conducted, but authorities are not releasing the cause of death.

According to a criminal complaint, a neighbor saw Richard Sweet alive at his home Friday night. That evening, authorities say Isaiah Sweet called a friend and said he drugged his grandparents and said he thought they were dead.

Criminal Complaint Details Events Surrounding Investigation

A woman who spoke to Isaiah Sweet over the phone Friday told police Isaiah said he drugged his grandparents and he thought they were dead because he couldn’t find a pulse, according to the criminal complaint. He called her back on Saturday and confirmed he killed them.

Another witness told police she met Isaiah Sweet on Saturday and then on Sunday he came back to see her and asked her to help him find a place to stay, according to the complaint. Isaiah also told her he killed his grandparents and told her “not to be scared.”

Police said a third witness said Isaiah Sweet called him Saturday and admitted to killing his grandparents and said he was “on the run.”

According to the complain, Janet and Richard Sweet may have been alive Friday because about 6:24 p.m. a phone call was made from Janet Sweet’s cell phone and about 7:30 p.m. Friday, a neighbor saw Richard Sweet at his residence.

Authorities said autopsies were conducted Monday by the State Medical Examiner’s Office in Ankeny but the causes of deaths aren’t being released at this time.

WATCH: Documents Detail Investigation

Counselor Dropped Sweet Off At Cedar Rapids Apartments

When Isaiah Sweet was picked up early Sunday at a convenience store in Iowa City, the Manchester teenager told officers they wouldn’t be able to reach his grandparents – his legal guardians.

Sweet was picked up by Iowa City police about 3 a.m. Sunday on suspicion of driving with a suspended license. Because he’s a juvenile and wasn’t booked into the Johnson County Jail, officers were trying to reach his guardians to pick him up.

Iowa City police Chief Sam Hargadine said Sweet told officers that his grandparents were en route to Rochester, Minn., inferring they were headed north toward the Mayo Clinic. “It was his way to explain why we couldn’t get a hold of the grandparents, so we located his mother,” Hargadine said.

Sweet’s mother agreed to let the police release her son to a female counselor out of Cedar Rapids, according to Larry Hedlund, special agent in charge with the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation. That counselor, who Hedlund wouldn’t identify, works for a Cedar Rapids organization and knows Sweet from previous contacts.

Hedlund said the counselor, who picked up Sweet from the Iowa City Police Department about 8 a.m., dropped him off later Sunday at the Cambridge Townhomes and Apartments, 2113 North Towne Court NE.

Sweet had associates there, Hedlund said, and investigators are now looking into what time the counselor dropped him off at the apartments and what they did between the time he was picked up and dropped off.

Hendlund said investigators are interviewing the counselor and the people Sweet was going to see in the Cambridge Apartments. He said authorities could in the future decide to file charges against persons accused of aiding and abetting Sweet’s efforts to elude police.

Sweet was never actually booked into the Johnson County Jail because he’s a juvenile. Instead, he was held in a back room at the Iowa City Police Department until officers could find an adult to pick him up, according to Chief Hargadine. “He was not locked down or anything,” he said.

Sweet was allowed to keep his cell phone during that time, and his Twitter feed shows he used it to send several Tweets including, “Cant wait to get outa the cop shop.”

Hargadine said Sweet was allowed to keep his phone because his charge was so minor and he was only being held until an adult could come get him. “The more property you take away, the more you have to sign for later,” he said.

Officers typically don’t detain people at the police department, Hargadine said. “If this were an adult, we would go straight to the Johnson County Jail,” he said. “But there are a lot more rules that kick in when you’ve got a juvenile detained.” Had Sweet lived in the Johnson County area, Hargadine said, officers would just have driven him home.

Hargadine said the Iowa City police didn’t violate any of its own policies by releasing Sweet with his mother’s consent, even though she wasn’t legally responsible for him. The police release juveniles, especially those being held on minor charges, to a parent or guardian, Hargadine said. “We are not going to keep him here,” Hargadine said.

WATCH: Isaiah Sweet Was In Iowa City Police Custody Sunday Morning

Authorities Search Rural Farm Fields for Person Who Was "Possibly Wanted"

On Monday morning, Johnson County Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek confirmed that a search in a farm field Sunday night yielded nothing.

Sheriff’s deputies from Linn and Johnson counties, as well as members of the Iowa State Patrol, began searching an area in northern Johnson County around 9 p.m. Sunday.

According to an email from Pulkrabek, authorities were looking for “someone who was possibly wanted,” though he did not say that person was Sweet. During the search, law enforcements officials on the scene told a KCRG/Gazette crew that the search was related to the double killling in Manchester.

A plane was also observed circling the area, although it’s not clear if the plane belonged to a law enforcement agency.

The search was called off around 11:15 p.m.

Heightened Security At Manchester Schools

West Delaware Community School District had restricted access to its buildings Monday in light of the double homicide.

Superintendent Kristen Rickey said the heightened security was a precautionary measure. Isaiah Sweet is a former student at the high school. He dropped out Feb. 3, she said.

Several students at school told KCRG Monday that the precautions of the extra security felt a odd and they were concerned. Two of the students said they know Isaiah Sweet and heard stories about his troubles at home.

Rickey said the police thought there was low risk to the public but did put additional officers on campus Monday.

The district also had grief counselors available for students, Rickey said. Any time there is a traumatic or emotional event in the community that might impact students the district offers counseling.

Interactive Timeline of Events

Read the Criminal Complaint

Isaiah Sweet's Recent Twitter Updates
Editor's Note: Some Tweets have been removed due to explicit content
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