The man suspected of abducting two girls in north-central Iowa Monday spent roughly 18 years in prison for two kidnappings and assaults back in 1991.
Authorities say 42-year-old Michael Klunder was found dead at a residence northeast of Dayton, several hours after allegedly abducting the two girls, one of whom is still missing.
Klunder was convicted in 1992 for a pair of kidnapping cases that happened a day apart. Police said Klunder, who was 20-years-old at the time, kidnapped and assaulted a Mason City woman.
The next day, he abducted two 3-year-old girls from a home in Charles City. The toddlers were found alive in a trash bin near Northwood, nearly 50 miles away.
Floyd County Attorney Normand Klemesrud was the assistant county attorney at the time Klunder agreed to a plea deal to avoid a trial.
“All I know is that he was originally charged with first-degree and third-degree kidnapping. He was ultimately convicted with a plea agreement to two counts of third-degree kidnapping and one count of willful injury,” Klemesrud said. Had Klunder been convicted of first-degree kidnapping, he would’ve been sentenced to life in prison.
The Iowa Attorney General’s office prosecuted the case, according to Klemesrud, and the plea deal resulted in Klunder receiving a sentence of 41 years in prison. “He was sentenced to 41, but when you go into our prison system, you get good time credit. One day of good behavior gets you one day of credit. So, he probably served every day of his sentence,” Klemesrud said.
A spokesperson for the Iowa Attorney General’s office says the person who prosecuted the case in 1992 has long since retired. Iowa Department of Corrections records show Klunder was released from prison in 2010 and from a work release program in February 2011.
Klunder is listed as a registered sex offender. Authorities believe Klunder abducted two girls, ages 15 and 12, from a bus stop in Dayton on Monday afternoon. The 12-year-old later escaped and got help.
The other girl, 15-year-old Kathlynn Shepard, is still missing. Hundreds of volunteers are helping police in the search for Shepard. Authorities have not said exactly how Klunder died.