Three charged in extortion

SAC CITY – A monthlong investigation has led to the arrest of three people in connection with an extortion case from Sac County.

The investigation began on April 8 when a man contacted the Sac County Sheriff’s Office and said he was being extorted by someone he didn’t know, according to Sac County Sheriff Ken McClure.

The victim told deputies that he was being asked to give more than $55,000 to the man, otherwise, McClure said, “the caller stated he would turn over some items that may be of embarrassment to the victim.”

Working with investigators, McClure said the money drop was made on April 13 at McHose Park in Boone, which is what the extortionist had demanded. The scene was being monitored by a surveillance team.

While the suspects got away that night, McClure said they never took the money for themselves.

Investigative work led deputies to charge Andrew C. Menken, 36, of Carroll, and Jason D. Heffelmeier, 39, of Buckingham, with extortion and second-degree theft. McClure said Elizabeth Aschinger, 23, of Carroll, was charged with conspiracy to commit extortion.

Menken and Heffelmeier were released from the Sac County Jail after making their initial appearance in Sac County Magistrate Court Tuesday. Their next court appearance has not yet been scheduled.

Aschinger is expected to make her initial appearance this morning.

The Sac County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the Sac County attorney’s office, Iowa Department of Public Safety, Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, Carroll, Buena Vista and Boone County sheriff’s offices and Sac City, Storm Lake and Boone police departments.