EARLY - Details continue to emerge after a shocking attempted kidnapping incident in Early Thursday led authorities to a dead body in a local home.
In an initial court appearance Friday morning for suspect Kirk Riley Levin, County Attorney Ben Smith revealed that the body found was that of the suspect's mother, Marilyn Schmitt, 45, estimated to have died about 48 hours earlier. Levin had just been released from prison on January 1 after serving a sentence for burglary. He had grown up in Wisconsin and had no ties to the Iowa community, according to Smith.
Thursday morning at around 6:30, Levin, 21, allegedly showed up at the home of an acquaintance in Storm Lake, telling the 21-year-old woman that his car had broken down and he needed a ride to the home where he was staying in Early. When they got there, he reportedly lured the victim to a barn on the property saying he had something there he needed to show her. Then he allegedly told the woman he was kidnapping her, tied her hands with a length of rope, and set out to place her into the trunk of a car before reconsidering and pushing her into the back seat. Officials believe Levin was driving too fast as he fled the scene, and the vehicle skidded off the road two miles west of Early, near Highway 20 and Ira Avenue, after he had driven only about half a mile from the home. The woman escaped and Levin allegedly ran away, as a passing farmer stopped to check the vehicle in the ditch. The man who had stopped found the victim, and called 911. Officers arrived on the scene at about 8 a.m., and after a brief search with help from the Buena Vista County Sheriff's Department and a scent-tracking dog, Levin was found about a half-mile from the scene of the crash, hiding in a barn. He was taken into custody without a struggle.
"The girl who was kidnapped is very lucky to be alive," said Sac County Sheriff Ken McClure. "We truly believe we saved her life."
Levin is charged with intent to commit sexual assault, assault while participating in a felony and third degree kidnapping.
Levin was led into a courtroom in an orange jail jumpsuit Friday, his hands bound in front of him, and sat quietly for the short proceeding. Prosecutor Smith asked that bond for Levin be increased from $20,000 to $500,000, implying that he was a flight risk because he had no connection to the community aside from his mother. The judge set bond at $200,000. Levin next appears in court on Tuesday.
While investigating at the nondescript two-story white farmhouse where Levin was staying, at 2242 Ira Avenue, authorities discovered the body of Levin's mother, Marilyn Schmitt, 45, in an upstairs bedroom. Authorities called the death scene "suspicious." An autopsy was scheduled for Friday by the Iowa Medical Examiner's office to determine the cause of death, but no results had been announced by presstime.
Schmitt had reportedly lived in Wisconsin earlier, but had returned to her home area and obtained the acreage about five years ago.
Only about 36 hours had passed from the time Levin was released from prison to the time of the kidnapping report. Smith said he had basically been incarcerated from the time he was 17 years old. Levin's past record includes two charges for operating a vehicle without consent, possession of burglary tools, retail theft (all in Wisconsin) and in August of 2010 he had been arrested in Sac County for burglarizing a vehicle while living for a shorty time in Iowa with his mother, and sent back to Wisconsin for parole violation. After finishing his sentence in Wisconsin, he was transported back to Iowa in November of 2011 to complete his sentence on the Iowa charge. He ended up being released on New Year's Day from the penitentiary in Mt. Pleasant after serving just over two years of a five-year sentence.
Levin's attorney indicated Levin would not be able to raise the money to get out of jail, regardless of the bail amount. He remains in Sac County Jail.
The victim of the attempted kidnapping was not seriously injured, and is fully cooperating with the investigation, according to Sheriff McClure. She was apparenlty not aware of the body in the house she had been directed to.
On Levin's Facebook site, he describes himself as "a rebel" and wrote, "I will not blend with your vision of humanity." In a lengthy essay posted that he had reportedly penned, he claimed that the government is using social media to track him and others.
One day before the kidnapping arrest, he had apparently written in a status update on the site: "to stay out of prison... yup. i like it."
Storm Lake Police and Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation are assisting Sac County authorities with the continuing investigation.