Dayton community holds vigil for missing teen

May 23, 2013

Members of the Dayton community in north-central Iowa gathered Wednesday evening for a vigil in honor of 15-year-old Kathlynn Shepard, who is still missing.
Credit Durrie Bouscaren / Iowa Public Radio

Investigators continue to search the area surrounding Dayton, Iowa for Kathlynn Shepard, a teenager abducted earlier this week as she walked home from the bus stop.  A twelve-year-old who was taken with her escaped shortly after the kidnapping and is, except for scratches on her arms and legs, unharmed. 

The events have rocked Dayton, a small town of fewer than 1,000 residents. A local church held a vigil last night for 15-year-old Kathlynn Shepard, who has been missing since Monday afternoon.

Her classmates remember her as kind, optimistic, and friendly. The superintendent of the school district, Launi Dane, says Shepard’s disappearance has taken a toll on the student body.

"Always has a smile on her face," Dane said. "She’s a good person."

Members of the community say they’re not sure when they’ll feel safe in Dayton again. 

Resident Kendra Breitsprecher is the editor of an online newspaper in Dayton. She says they’ve never seen anything like this in the community.

"Last night we got home - my daughter was sleeping on the couch and my son was sleeping in my bed - and I just started crying," she says. "Because it could have happened to anyone. Because it isn’t supposed to happen here. It isn’t supposed to happen, period. But it definitely isn’t supposed to happen here."

Authorities have found the body of suspected abductor Michael Klunder in rural Dayton, apparently dead of a self-inflicted injury.