DES MOINES (AP) — The search for a missing 15-year-old Iowa girl abducted Monday after getting off her school bus was continuing Wednesday morning near Dayton in northern Iowa.
Searchers will focus on the area around the bus stop where Kathlynn Shepard and a 12-year-old girl were abducted, the area in rural Pilot Mound, Iowa, where the 12-year-old girl escaped and an area near Dayton where the body of 42-year-old suspect Michael Klunder was found Monday night. Searchers will also search the area near Klunder's Stratford, Iowa, home. Dozens of federal, state and local law enforcement officers are searching by air, land and water.
More than 300 people searched for Kathlynn on Tuesday. Authorities say more volunteers are not needed Wednesday, but could be later.
She and the 12-year-old girl were abducted near the Dayton bus stop where they accepted a ride from a stranger.
Kathlynn is described as standing 5-foot-6 and weighing 160 pounds. She has blond hair, blue eyes and braces. She was last seen wearing jeans, a gray hooded sweatshirt and a Minnesota Vikings baseball cap.
Kathlynn's name and photo are being released in an effort to find the teenager alive, said Jessica Lown of the Iowa Department of Public Safety.
“They're continuing to search for the girl under the assumption that she is still alive because ... we don't have information indicating otherwise,” Lown said. “That's the way these things work for all missing children and missing person cases. We search until we find them.”
The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation said at a Tuesday press conference that the body of 42-year-old Michael Klunder was found Monday night near a red Toyota Tundra pickup truck at a rural property northeast of Dayton. The cause of his death is under investigation.
Dayton is about 60 miles northwest of Des Moines.
Klunder was suspected of abducting the girls Monday. The 12-year-old girl, who has not been identified, told investigators that she and Kathlynn had accepted a ride from a stranger who took them to an agricultural facility. She was able to escape and run to a nearby rural residence for help, Division of Criminal Investigation Director Chari Paulson said during the press conference.
The girl was taken to a Fort Dodge hospital and released. Authorities haven't said what relationship the girls have to one another.
Authorities said the abduction spanned several hours, with Klunder's body being discovered nearly four hours after the girls were taken.
Poor weather and darkness delayed an extensive search Monday night for Kathlynn.
With the onset of daylight, authorities scoured fields and wooded areas with the help of K-9s and volunteers. Airplanes equipped with heat-activation technology have been deployed.
“The response by volunteers has been outstanding,” Paulson said.
The abduction comes less than a year after the high-profile disappearance of two cousins in Evansdale, about 90 miles east of Dayton. Lyric Cook, 10, and 9-year-old Elizabeth Collins disappeared while riding their bikes last July. Hunters found their bodies in a remote, wooded area in December.
Klunder is listed on the state's sex offender registry, and he spent several years in prison on kidnapping charges, prison records show. He was released from a work release program in February 2011. Police also say he was ordered for sex offender treatment when he was a teenager.
Klunder's convictions on kidnapping and assault charges include the 1991 abduction and assault of a Rudd woman and the kidnapping of two toddlers from an apartment complex in Charles City, according to the Mason City Globe Gazette. The girls, both 3, were found alive inside a dumpster.
Authorities are asking the public for information about any interactions with Klunder, as well of any sighting of his pickup between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Monday.