Authorities say a Coralville woman will be arrested for killing her 2-year-old son when she’s released from a hospital. Buchanan County Attorney Al Vander Hart says investigators believe Michelle Kehoe is responsible for the death of Seth Kehoe and causing the injuries to her 7-year-old Sean.
He announced at a Thursday afternoon press conference that Michelle Kehoe, 35, will be charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder and child endangerment causing serious injury.
An autopsy revealed Seth died from cuts to the neck. Sean also had cuts to his neck, but is now out of the hospital. The boys’ mother is considered the only suspect. "We have no reason to suspect or believe that anybody else has been involved or there’s any risk or danger to the public," Vander Hart said.
The county attorney refused to talk about details of the case, saying authorities want to assure Kehoe receives a fair trial. "Premature disclosure of evidence jeopardizes that," Vander Hart said. Court documents, however, provide gruesome details of how Michelle Kehoe planned to kill her children several weeks before the three of them were found Monday morning in a remote, wooded area near Littleton.
According to an affidavit, Michelle told investigators she purchased duct tape and a knife one month ago. She admitted covering the boy’s eyes, noses and mouths with the tape and cutting their throats. Kehoe claimed it happened on Sunday before 1:30 p.m. and she couldn’t explain why she had done it. Investigators were called to the scene and Kehoe told them she and her children were attacked by a man with a knife.
The knife was recovered from a pond, along with hand written note in the van detailing the abduction of the mother and her children. Investigators say Sean told them his mother caused his injuries and killed his younger brother. Michelle Kehoe allegedly confessed to writing the note more than two months ago.
The search for the Kehoe family began when the father, Eugene, reported them missing after his wife and kids failed to show up to their destination in Sumner on Sunday. Vander Hart offered his condolences to the family on behalf of all the investigating agencies. "It is our prayer that the Lord will bind their wounds and heal their broken hearts in the face of this tragedy," Vander Hart said.
The extent of Michelle Kehoe’s injuries are not being released. It is believed she attempted suicide. Investigators say Kehoe told them she "wanted to die or be locked up where she couldn’t hurt anyone else."
Last December, Michelle Kehoe and her sons were rescued from the Iowa River in Iowa City. She told investigators she was distracted by her sons, lost control of the van and ended up in the water. Iowa City Police Sergeant Troy Kelsay said this week he reviewed the report from the December crash and didn’t see anything that would indicate it was anything other than an accident.