|Police Search for Teen, Kidnapper Dead|
|By RUSSELL GOLDMAN (@GoldmanRussell)||May 22, 2013, 2:14 PM|
As the search for Kathlynn Shepard, 15, entered its third day today, new details emerged about the man accused of kidnapping her and a younger girl from a school bus stop before he killed himself in his truck in a secluded area.
Police have identified Michael Klunder, a registered sex offender from Stratford, Iowa, as the sole suspect in the girls' abduction. He was found dead on Monday evening, four hours after he allegedly kidnapped Kathlynn and her 12-year-old companion as the two got off a school bus around 4 p.m. Monday, Lt. Robert Hanson of the Iowa Department of Public Safety told ABC News.com.
Klunder had spent years in and out of prison, including time served for a 1991 conviction on charges that he kidnapped and assaulted a woman, and kidnapped two 3-year-olds. The children were later found alive.
Klunder allegedly drove the girls around in his truck for hours on Monday, crisscrossing large swaths of the rural areas near the town of Dayton, police said.
Around 5:30 p.m. Monday, just as authorities were about to issue an Amber Alert, police learned that the 12-year-old had escaped from the parked truck and hid out in the woods, and then made her way to a nearby house and called for help, Hanson said.
That girl, who has not been identified, was taken to a hospital and later discharged.
Around 8 p.m. police located Klunder's pickup truck and found him dead inside.
There were, however, no signs of Kathlynn.
Hundreds of police officers and volunteers have been scouring a network of rural roads and trails in the search for 15-year-old. Police have deployed aircraft and dogs as part of the effort.
Police are treating the search for Kathlynn as a rescue, but as the days pass the chances of finding her alive dwindle, police said.
Kathlynn is described as 5 feet 6 inches tall, and weighing 160 pounds. She was last seen wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt and a Vikings cap.
The kidnapping comes less than a year after two young cousins were abducted less than 90 miles from Dayton. Lyric Cook, 10, and Elizabeth Collins, 8, went missing while riding their bikes in July. Their bodies were found found by hunters in a wooded area.