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Family at Iowa state park was attacked in tent, officials confirm

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The three members of a family killed at Maquoketa Caves State Park early Friday were in their tent at the time, officials confirmed Monday.

Mitch Mortvedt, assistant director of Iowa’s Division of Criminal Investigation, said Sarah and Tyler Schmidt, both 42, and their daughter, Lula, 6, were “attacked and killed in their tent.”

The couple’s son, Arlo, 9, survived. The family lived in Cedar Falls, Iowa, where Sarah worked for the public library.

Police have identified 23-year-old Anthony Orlando Sherwin as the suspect in the slayings. Sherwin, a La Vista resident, was found dead in a wooded area of the park from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Autopsies were to be performed Sunday and Monday, Mortvedt said, and the preliminary results are likely to be announced Tuesday or Wednesday.

He told the Associated Press over the weekend that the motive for the attack remains unknown.

“We don’t know what led up to this, what precipitated it,” he said, adding that so far, “The investigation has not revealed any early interaction between the Schmidt family and him (Sherwin).”

Cecilia Sherwin, Anthony Sherwin’s mother, told The World-Herald in an email Saturday that the family refuses “to believe the news.”

Cecilia Sherwin said they were camping at the park Friday morning when she heard yelling and two gunshots. A young boy ran up to the Sherwin’s campsite yelling for help and told her that a man wearing black had shot his family, she said.

Cecilia Sherwin said her son was wearing green, not black, and no black clothing was found in the area. She also said that they were legally traveling with a gun, which was located in a secure container.

“We think (Anthony) might have sensed trouble and grabbed the gun for safety,” Cecilia Sherwin said.

A review of Nebraska criminal justice records found no signs that Anthony Sherwin had a criminal history.

As of Monday, more than $200,000 in donations had been made to a fund set up for Arlo Schmidt.

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