Drive begins for Kathlynn’s Hope

The abduction and murder of a Dayton teenager earlier this summer has led to a statewide push for stricter laws for sex offenders who commit crimes against children.

Across the state, Iowa businesses are collecting signatures in support of Kathlynn’s Hope Law, which, if enacted, would send those convicted of sexual crimes against children to prison for life.

Shirley Seagren, co-owner of the Fort Dodge business Stone Creek Landscape & Nursery, has been involved in the effort to collect signatures for the petitions.

She said this weekend businesses across the state will have petitions available for signing.

“It’ll be a statewide signing of the petitions,” Seagren said. “There are places throughout the state that can hold this. Now we’re just wanting to get out there and get it exposed.”

This weekend was chosen because it is Sales Tax Holiday weekend in Iowa.

“We’re hoping we can get as many people as we can,” she said. “People can really just come in here and sign it. It’s that simple.”

The proposed law is named after Kathlynn Shepard, who was abducted after leaving her school bus in Dayton on May 20. Her body was found on June 7 after an extensive search which included searchers on foot and aircraft. A 12-year-old girl who was with Shepard was able to escape.

The man identified as her abductor and killer, Michael Klunder, committed suicide the same day of the abduction. Klunder was a registered sex offender who was released from prison in 2011 after serving half of a 20-year sentence in two kidnapping cases.

The proposed law is based on a California law known as Chelsea’s Law, which passed in September 2011 after the abduction and murder of 17-year-old Chelsea King, of San Diego.

Seagren said Stone Creek, which has a showroom adjacent to the Crossroads Mall, isn’t the only local business taking part in the statewide petition signing.

“We’ve got another location at Lilly’s Floral and Gifts,” she said. “There are also petitions in Clare, Gowrie, Callender and Dayton. Any of those locations have petitions.”

Petitions will also be available for signing at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, which begins Aug. 8.

“A lot of it is just going to be within networking of local people saying you can sign it here,” Seagren said.

They’ll also be available to sign after this weekend, she said.

This weekend, the petition can be signed at Stone Creek Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.