March 24, 2008 -- Five family members of an Iowa banker recently indicted on federal embezzlement and money laundering charges were found dead in their home today in Iowa City, Iowa.
The victims included the man's wife and their four children. Police think the banker may have died a short time later in a fiery car crash on a nearby highway.
The Iowa City Police Department said in a news release that officers went to the home of 42-year-old Steven Sueppel after receiving a 911 call at 6:31 a.m. from a cell phone.
The unidentified caller directed authorities to the home, where the five bodies were found.
"Responding officers found the house unlocked," according to the release. "Officers made entry out of concern for the safety of the occupants. Officers located five deceased persons, the adult female resident and four children." It's not yet clear exactly how the victims died.
A spokesman for the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation confirmed to ABC News that the Iowa City Police Department had requested help processing evidence at a multiple homicide crime scene early this morning.
Sueppel, who was indicted in February by the U.S. Attorney's Office in southern Iowa on embezzlement and laundering charges, was missing, as was the family's tan Toyota Sienna minivan.
The Sueppel's vehicle was later involved in a fatal single-car crash along Interstate 80 in Iowa, Iowa City police announced this afternoon. "The vehicle's driver and sole occupant died in the fiery crash," according to police.
The deceased driver's burns were so severe that he could not be identified immediately, police said. An autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday for the driver of the minivan as well as for the five Sueppel family members found dead inside the house.
The Sueppel home is not far from the University of Iowa campus, which as a precaution issued a "Hawk Alert" this morning warning students to be on the lookout for "a white male in his mid-40s" who was involved in a shooting incident near the campus. Police have not confirmed whether a gun was used to kill the Sueppel family members.
Leon Spies, Sueppel's Iowa City attorney, said that he had been in touch with the federal prosecutor's office this morning regarding the deaths. "The enormity of this tragedy is unimaginable," Spies said.
Sueppel was set to go to trial in April to face federal embezzlement and money laundering charges, Spies said.
Sueppel had pleaded not guilty to the charges, which were announced by U.S. attorney Matthew Whitaker Feb. 12.
"The indictment alleges that starting on July 26, 2000, and continuing to September 2007, Sueppel, formerly vice president and controller at Hills Bank & Trust in Johnson County, embezzled bank funds and subsequently conducted financial transactions to launder stolen funds," according to a statement posted on the U.S. Attorney's Office Web site.
Sueppel allegedly stole nearly $560,000 during the seven-year span.
Despite the allegations, Spies said that his client was admired throughout the Iowa City area. "Steve and his entire family were wildly loved and admired and respected in just about every circle you can imagine," he said.