I will be taking a break from writing for the next week as I head back to Iowa. So I will re-post some of my favorite blog posts and columns from the past few years.
I am so glad to be going home for so many reasons. But, I think one has been obviously glaring in the past couple days. A 15-year-old girl, Kathlynn Shepard, has been missing since Monday afternoon. Her abductor was later found dead, having committed suicide. Michael Klunder, of Stratford, was a Tier 2 sex offender and had committed quite a list of horrendous crimes. He was released from prison on Feb. 25, 2011, after serving half of a 41 year sentence. He kidnapped Kathlynn and an unnamed 12-year-old girl, who was able to escape.
This story is shocking and absolutely sickening. I remember seeing Klunder’s face regularly, when I was a reporter at The Daily Freeman-Journal. I would check the sex offender list quite often, to see if there was new faces or charges. The fact that he served only half his sentence, well, I could go on quite a long time about that, getting pretty angry, but no.
Instead, I want to focus on why I love central Iowa so much. Local media coverage, especially the Dayton Leader, have done a fantastic job getting the information out to the public. Law enforcement has done a spectacular job, and local businesses have been helping as much as they possibly can. The town and surrounding communities have poured all their resources into one task: Finding Kathlynn alive. According to the Dayton Leader, food, drinks, bug spray, you name it has been provided to search teams from a barrage of individuals. Yet, this is not unexpected out of small town Iowa. No, it’s kind of a given.
When a tragedy strikes, everyone gets together and tries to solve the problem. Whether it is someone dealing with an illness, a tornado disaster, or a kidnapping – as hard as it is to imagine happening in this area – people pull up their boot straps and get going. I love that about central Iowa.
While I wait for good news to pop up on my news feed at my desk in NYC, I thank all the people who are doing all that they can to find this little girl.