Governor Terry Branstad is joining key legislators in promising to review the 1992 sentencing of a man who hung himself after kidnapping two girls in May.
“I think it is appropriate that we reveiw these provisions, especially as it affects violent sexual predators who are a bad risk,” Branstad says.
Authorities say 42-year-old Michael Klunder of Stratford is the only suspect in the kidnapping of 15-year-old Kathlynn Shephard and a 12-year-old girl in Dayton on May 20th. The 12-year-old escaped. The older teen’s body was found in the Des Moines River last Friday by a fisherman. The governor says giving Klunder time off his sentence for good behavior behind bars will be reviewed.
“The family has expressed concern about the sentencing provisions that we have in present law that automatically provide reduction in the length of the sentence,” Branstad says, “and then the plea bargain that occurred in this case.”
Klunder was accused of kidnapping a woman and two toddlers. In 1992 he pled guilty to third degree kidnapping of the woman and received a 41 year prison sentence.
“The Parole Board, to its credit, three times turned this individual down for parole, so they felt that he was a high risk and they chose not to parole him,” Branstad says. “But unfortunately under the law he could be held so long and he served out, under the present law which automatically reduces the sentence to less than half, he was able to be released.”
Klunder served about 19 years in prison. Authorities are investigation whether Klunder may have been behind last July’s kidnapping of two young cousins from Evansdale. The girls’ bodies were found in a wooded area by hunters in December.
Branstad briefly discussed the case this morning duringhis weekly news conference. Find the audio here.