The search for Kathlynn Shepard is now in its fourth day. Investigators and volunteers have been combing through wooded areas and walking ditches in an effort to find the girl who was kidnapped from Dayton on Monday.
Law enforcement officials are planning at 4:00 p.m. news conference Thursday to release new information about evidence found in the locations the suspect, 41-year-old Michael Klunder, and Kathlynn visited.
Investigators say they want to wrap up this case as quickly as possible.
“Time is not your friend when you have these kinds of cases and now we’re on day three…We’re still trying to be optimistic and positive that we’re going to be able to find her,” Agent Bill Keitzman with DCI says.
Investigators say Klunder offered 15-year-old Kathlynn Shepard and her 12-year-old friend a job mowing lawns Monday, after the girls got off of the school bus. When they got in his truck, Klunder took them to a hog farm in Pilot Mound.
The 12-year-old was able to escape and provided details of her ordeal to the Dayton Leader. She told them Klunder bound their wrists with zip-ties and told them he would let them go if they did what he said. He had a gun in the truck and the girl says when he took Kathlynn out of the truck to a different location on the property of the hog farm, she grabbed the gun and ran to a farmhouse for help.
Later that night, police found Klunder dead after he committed suicide.
The entire area around the backpacks was the focus of an intense search Wednesday.
Thursday searchers will be back at it, hoping to find any clue that will lead them to Kathlynn Shepard.
Wednesday night, hundreds turned out for a vigil for the girl. They raised their voices in song and prayer, asking for a miracle. About 200 people filled the Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Dayton.
They say they`re exhausted physically and emotionally. But, they say, the service helped to re-energize them to continue the search.
Some know 15-year-old Kathlynn Shepard, many have helped in the search for her, and all prayed for her safe return.
"To pray for Kathlynn and her family and to hope for her safe return and just to know that everybody in this community is thinking of her,” says Katie Vansickle.
"God is always in the midst of our struggle. Our trials our crisis and our suffering. And god is there. Wherever the child is. Wherever the workers are. Wherever people are that's where God is,” says Pastor Karen Young.
Wednesday we heard from Kathlynn Shepard's family. They released a statement through the Iowa Department of Public Safety saying "We would like to thank everybody who took the time from their busy lives to help search for Kathlynn. To see so much love in our community and the surrounding areas is amazing. Thank you for all of your prayers and we hope to have Kathlynn home soon."