The ground search has been suspended for 15-year-old Kathlynn Shepard, the central Iowa girl who was believed abducted last week. Ground searches have covered more than 250 square miles in Webster, Boone and Hamilton Counties since Shepard was reported missing on May 20 from her school bus stop.
The Iowa Department of Public Safety announced that numerous areas where ground searches were previously performed are now under water due to the flooding. The searches along the river area will resume once the river is considered safe to navigate by rescue teams.
Gerard Meyers, Assistant Director of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, still believes Shepard could be found alive. “On our side of the public safety house, you know, we never give up hope,” Meyers says.
“I would point to some of the search and investigative actions that have taken place not only across the country, but across the globe, in which we’ve had very fruitful and positive outcomes.”
Authorities believe 42-year-old Michael Klunder kidnapped Shepard and a 12-year-old girl on May 20 in Dayton. The 12-year-old escaped after Klunder allegedly took the girls to one of the hog confinement operations where he worked. Investigators have searched those hog confinements several times, including another inspection on Wednesday.
“Those hog confinements, in particular, certainly pose some unique circumstances with regards to search and logistics, but it’s nothing we can’t overcome,” Meyers said. “We’ve just been doing a little bit of a redundant follow through of some previously searched locations just for the purposes of thoroughness.”
Officials with the Webster County Sheriff’s Department, Dayton Police and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation will continue to follow up on all leads submitted. The officials pointed out that they are not giving up hope on finding Shepard.
Anyone with information as to her whereabouts are asked to contact the Webster County Sheriff’s Office in Fort Dodge.
Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City also contributed to this story.