Professionals continue the search

DAYTON – The search for missing 15-year-old Kathlynn Shepard came up empty-handed Saturday as law enforcement conducted their first search for the teenager without citizen volunteers.

Shepard was abducted Monday while walking home from school in Dayton. The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation confirmed Thursday that Shepard’s blood was found at a hog confinement where she and a 12-year-old were taken after the abduction. While the 12-year-old escaped, Shepard remains missing.

Michael Klunder, 42, who the DCI identified as her abductor, was found dead of a suicide by hanging later Monday evening.

Saturday’s search focused mostly between the hog confinement near 3023 400th St. in Pilot Mound and the 400 block of Kale Avenue, where the girls’ backpacks were found.

Despite the rain Saturday morning, Dayton Police Chief Nick Dunbar said professional rescuers and law enforcement continued to come to Dayton and help look for Shepard.

“More and more are coming every minute,” Dunbar said early Saturday morning.

By 3 p.m., Dunbar said rescuers hadn’t found anything related to Shepard’s abduction.

However, he added officers are still looking for any leads in the case.

“Even if it’s something small, it can become something huge,” he said. “All law enforcement agencies are still available, and we’ll follow up on any leads and see where they take us.”

Dunbar said a team of dogs was set to come in Saturday afternoon to help the search as well.

He added that he wasn’t sure if the search was going to continue into today.

“That will greatly depend on the weather,” Dunbar said. “The terrain we’re searching is very difficult, which is why we only have law enforcement looking for her now. When you add that with the weather, it can affect the searches.”

One of the groups searching for Shepard wasn’t concerned about the rainy weather Saturday.

That organization was a statewide agency known as the Iowa Task Force. The specific unit that was sent to Dayton was the Iowa Task Force Number 1.

“The rain’s not a problem,” Dan Dall, task force director, said. “The dogs and team members are all fit for this type of environment.”

Dall, who also serves as a battalion chief with the Cedar Rapids Fire Department, said the task force was called Friday night and asked to help in the search.

“The county emergency manager requested assistance,” Dall said. “They asked for search dogs, which were deployed this morning.”

He said the dogs are trained in both “life find and cadaver” search tactics.

The Iowa Task Force Number 1, which is based in Cedar Rapids, was searching an area near Juniper Road, located in northern Boone County just next to the Des Moines River.

Dall said their plan was to search between 130th and 160th streets in Boone County.

“We’re using GPS units, and we also have tracking search cameras and listening devices to help us in ground searches,” Dall said.

The task force was formed in 2004.

“The state identified a need for the task force due to the Oklahoma City bombings and 9/11,” Dall said. “Our main mission was originally helping with structural collapses, but we’ve expanded to an all-hazard response team.”

This includes confined space rescues, high-angle rope training and swift water rescues.

“We’ve since branched out into missing person searches,” he said, adding that they can be sent out statewide.

“We’re a resource for local emergency management agencies when they’re tapped out,” Dall said.

He added the task force was happy to lend assistance in Webster County.

“We’re glad to be here helping out,” he said. “We do what we can.”