Search area Thursday focuses on river area

DAYTON – Teams combed an area in southern Webster County and northern Boone County Thursday in the third day of the search for 15-year-old Kathlynn Shepard.

The searches were particularly focused in the Des Moines River area, said Dayton Police Chief Nick Dunbar.

The first volunteers began signing up at the Dayton Rescue Squad building shortly after 8:30 a.m. Law enforcement and the Iowa State Patrol command center rolled out of town shortly after that.

Approximately 140 members of law enforcement were involved in Thursday’s search.

Dunbar said volunteers were in high demand.

Also Thursday morning, the Humboldt County Community Emergency Response Team was dispatched to assist in the search.

Nine CERT members arrived in Dayton equipped with radios, water bottles and emergency supplies.

Three Southeast Webster Grand school buses and one from First Covenant Church in Fort Dodge were available to take volunteers to their search locations.

“We just got it four weeks ago,” said Doug Utley, church chairman. “We’re hoping to coordinate with some other churches and bring people down here.”

Lt. Kevin Kruse, of the Webster County Sheriff’s Department, gave instructions for one group heading out to a new search area.

“Keep almost close enough together to touch arm to arm,” Kruse said, extending his arms. “If you see anything, stop and call us. Don’t touch it.”

The search for Shepard has allowed the Iowa State Patrol to use their new radio trailer. It has been used during the search to help coordinate communication between the many officials involved.

“This is the first true mission we’ve had with it,” said Capt. Curt Henderson, of the Iowa State Patrol.

The mobile trailer carries a extendable 40-foot radio mast. It also holds a bank of handheld UHF radios inside, which are handed out to law enforcement personnel, Henderson said.

“Some departments carry 800 mHz radios, some VHF, some UHF,” he said. “We can receive from all three inside, and it combines them into one signal.”

Wayne Haines, of Dallas Center, and Matt O’Hearn, of Dayton, were among the earliest volunteers at the EMS station.

Haines made the hourlong drive on his day off.

“I was lying in bed this morning reading the paper, relishing the fact that I had a free day with nothing to do,” Haines said, “and God really laid it on my heart that I needed to be here.”

O’Hearn was part of the search Wednesday, so he arrived equipped with muck boots.

“We searched the site of the suicide, the hog confinement, and a five-mile stretch of roadside and the adjoining hollows north of Dayton,” O’Hearn said. “We checked the pits, walked in with the hogs, and checked the feeders. I think they probed them the night before.”

It is hard for O’Hearn, who has a daughter who went to school with Shepard.

“It’s a time issue,” O’Hearn said. “It’s getting so cold at nights. It’s bad enough being wet and cold when you’re walking around. I can’t imagine being underdressed out in the elements.”

Haines said he is “keeping an open mind, and praying that Kathlynn will be okay, and just that we will get closure one way or the other.”