Marilyn Schmitt traveled across Iowa to pick up her son from the Mount Pleasant Correctional Facility on New Year's Day. Two days later, she was found dead.
Her son, Kirk Riley Levin, 21, is back behind bars, suspected of kidnapping a young woman. Authorities described Schmitt's death as suspicious but stopped short of implicating Levin.
“What I can tell you is, we are not looking for anybody else in connection with her death,” Sac County (Iowa) Sheriff Kenneth McClure said.
About 8 a.m. Thursday, a farmer saw a car slide on packed snow into a ditch about two miles west of Early in Sac County, said Mitch Mortvedt, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation's special agent in charge for western Iowa.
The farmer stopped to help, and a young woman jumped from the car and yelled that she had been kidnapped. At the same time, a man bolted from the car.
“The farmer grabbed this woman and called 911,” Mortvedt said
The 21-year-old woman told deputies that Levin, an acquaintance, had come to her door in Storm Lake at 6:30 a.m. He said that his car had broken down and that he needed a lift to his home, which was about 15 miles away near Early.
After arriving at his house, Levin took the woman to a barn and tied her up with a rope. He then put her in the trunk of the car before moving her to the back seat, McClure said.
After deputies arrived at the scene of the crash, they searched the area, found Levin hiding in a barn and took him into custody.
While investigating, authorities discovered the body of his mother, Schmitt, in an upstairs bedroom of her home. An autopsy is scheduled with the state medical examiner in Ankeny, according to the Sheriff's Office.
Schmitt, 45, had been dead less than a day when she was found, Mortvedt said.
Authorities would not say how they believed she had died.
Levin is being held at the Sac County Jail on suspicion of assault with intent to commit sexual abuse, assault while participating in a felony and third-degree kidnapping — all felonies.
His lawyer, Charles Schulte, said he had just been assigned the case and it was too soon to comment.
Levin was released from Mount Pleasant after serving a little more than two years of a five-year burglary sentence, Iowa Department of Corrections spokesman Fred Scaletta said. He was not on parole.
Authorities would not identify the kidnapping victim or the farmer who came upon the crash.
“If they hadn't slid in the ditch, who knows what would have happened,” Mortvedt said.
This report includes material from the Associated Press.
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