Authorities said members of an Iowa family were either shot, strangled, or somehow stabbed at a state campground last month. Investigators maintain their lone suspect is still Anthony Orlando Sherwin, 23, who fled the scene and died by suicide when he shot himself.
The husband Tyler Schmidt, 42, “died from a gunshot wound and multiple sharp force injuries,” the Iowa Department of Public Safety said. Wife Sarah Schmidt, 42, died of “multiple sharp force injuries,” authorities said. Their daughter Lula Schmidt, 6, was shot and strangled.
“The investigation into the events surrounding the homicides is ongoing,” authorities said in their update Thursday. “However, the known facts and circumstances, and all evidence collected to this point, substantiate Sherwin was the perpetrator of the homicides and acted alone. No further information will be released at this time.”
Authorities have suggested that Sherwin killed the family at the Maquoketa Caves State Park campground on July 22, went west of the park, and then died by suicide.
Investigators learned he was missing and found his body while initially looking into the Schmidt killings.
Sarah and Tyler Schmidt of Cedar Falls were found dead at Maquoketa Caves State Park early Friday morning, along with their 6-year-old daughter Lula. Their 9-year-old son was able to escape. https://t.co/cSR28Ap9oc
— 1011 NOW (@1011_News) July 25, 2022
Investigators have uncovered little to establish a motive, noting they have not turned up any connection between Anthony Sherwin and the Cedar Falls residents investigators say he killed.
— Iowa’s News Now (@iowasnewsnow) July 26, 2022
Authorities have said Sherwin, a Nebraska resident, was part of another campsite. His parents reportedly said they were camping with him when he disappeared.
His mother Cecilia Sherwin told the Omaha World-Herald in a July report she heard yelling and two gunshots. A boy ran up to their campsite, saying a man in black shot his family, she said.
Cedar Falls Mayor Rob Green has said that Tyler and Sarah’s 9-year-old son Arlo survived and is safe.
Cecilia Sherwin reportedly said that her son Anthony was wearing green clothes and that no black clothing was found. She and her son legally traveled with a gun in a secure container, the mother said.
“We think [Anthony] might have sensed trouble and grabbed the gun for safety,” Cecilia Sherwin said. “We refuse to believe the news. We are deeply saddened as he had so much to live for and gave us no indication that anything was wrong.”
She said she and family cooperated with authorities from the beginning.
“I didn’t think we had any tears left but we still find ourselves breaking down and care deeply for the little boy and the loss of his family,” Cecilia Sherwin told The Associated Press at the time.
She maintained her son was “not capable of this sort of violence,” according to The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier at the time.
Authorities have neither suggested a motive for the killing nor any possible prior link — if any — between Sherwin and the Schmidts.
[Image via Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation]
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