- Associated Press - Friday, May 20, 2016

FORT DODGE, Iowa (AP) - Dayton residents say the city in Iowa is still feeling the effects of a kidnapping of two girls that occurred three years ago.

The kidnapping of 15-year-old Kathlynn Shepard and a 12-year-old girl on May 20, 2013 left a loss on the community, The Messenger (https://bit.ly/1TL6onE ) reported.

Authorities say the girls were kidnapped by 42-year-old Michael Klunder. The younger girl escaped from Klunder, who later killed himself. Shepard’s body was found in the Des Moines River near Boone more than two weeks later.

The purple ribbons in honor of Shepard still hang in front of businesses, alongside roads and on residents’ cars.

Nick Dunbar, the police chief at the time, said the town’s healing process has been slow.

“It was a while before you’d start seeing families out with their kids, or kids playing at the park. Everybody was a lot more guarded,” he said. “Now it’s returning back to a new normal. I think people are a lot more alert, as to what’s right, what’s wrong. I think the kids there are a lot more educated about what the dangers of strangers are.”

Resident Meredith Gallentine agreed.

“You can’t just let them ride bikes or go to the park like they used to,” she said. “You never know. It’s unfortunate for the kids we have to live like that, but that’s the world we live in.”

But she said those in the community have learned to rely on one another in the aftermath of the tragedy.

“I think it made us come together more as a community, and that has lasted,” Gallentine said.


Information from: The Messenger, https://www.messengernews.net

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