Anthony Sherwin is the suspect accused of killing three members of the Schmidt family at an Iowa State Park.
According to the Des Moines Register, authorities don’t believe he had any prior relationship with the victims. The Register reported that the victims were shot.
According to the Iowa Department of Public Safety, the three victims of the triple-homicide at Maquoketa Caves State Park were identified as: Tyler Schmidt, 42, Cedar Falls; Sarah Schmidt, 42, Cedar Falls; and Lula Schmidt, 6, Cedar Falls.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Sherwin Shot Himself After Killing the 3 Victims in a Campground, Authorities Say
At about 6:23 a.m. on the morning of July 22, 2022, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and DCI “were notified of a triple homicide at the Maquoketa Caves State Park campground,” the Iowa Department of Public Safety news release said.
“The Iowa Office of the State Medical Examiner will conduct autopsies of all three victims. Once completed, the findings will be released. Additionally, the State Medical Examiner will perform an autopsy on suspect Anthony Orlando Sherwin, 23,” the statement read.
“Officers located three deceased bodies. Officers later found that a camper was unaccounted for. Following a search of the area, officers found the deceased body of Anthony Orlando Sherwin, 23, west of the park. Sherwin appears to have suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and there is no danger to the public,” the release says.
“At this time, the Maquoketa Caves State Park is an active crime scene and is closed until further notice,” authorities wrote.
According to The Des Moines Register, authorities pinpointed Sherwin as a suspect when they evacuated the park and realized that only one registered person was not accounted for – Sherwin. The newspaper reported that he was “known to be armed,” according to Mitch Mortvedt, assistant director with the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation.
2. The Victims Were Found Inside a Tent & Their Young Son Survived
The three victims were discovered inside a tent, according to the Des Moines Register.
Camp Shalom, Inc., a Christian camp and retreat center, wrote on Facebook, “There was an emergency situation this morning at the Maquoketa Caves. We evacuated camp as soon as we learned about it. All campers and staff are safe and accounted for in town at Little Bear Park, where we will do closing worship and pickup at the usual 11am time. Please pass this along!”
The group later posted again, writing,
Yesterday’s events showed everyone once again why having a well-trained staff at a summer camp is so important.
Within 15 minutes of when I was notified of the situation at the Maquoketa Caves and the uncertainty of the perpetrator, our staff had every camper accounted for, on a vehicle and headed out of camp.
Approximately 145 people were on site this morning, so that was no small feat.
No one was in imminent danger and that was the goal. Our actions in evacuating camp were appropriate because we knew another 100 people would be coming for Closing Worship.
Camp Shalom has been accredited by the American Camping Association for approximately 15 years and as part of that process, we have developed extensive emergency plans for different scenarios. We received a 5 year extension of that accreditation this past month for meeting the highest standards in our industry.
I hope all parents can appreciate how diligent our staff was in keeping our campers safe and continuing to have fun. I am grateful to have them as part of the team.
Cedar Falls Mayor Rob Green revealed on Facebook that the Schmidt’s son survived the attack. He wrote:
This morning, while camping at Maquoketa Caves State Park, our neighbor and Cedar Falls Public Library employee Sarah Schmidt, along with her husband Tyler, and daughter Lula (age 6) lost their lives to a 23-year old gunman who then took his own life. Like many of you just hearing the news, I’m devastated. I knew Sarah well, and she & her family were regular walkers here in the Sartori Park neighborhood. I was working with her this week on a public library tech presentation for 7/26.
Their 9 year old son Arlo survived the attack, and is safe. I’ve notified neighbors, and for those of you just learning about this through this post, I am so sorry. Details will be forthcoming about services and other memorials, and I will ensure the community knows about this. Please offer some extra grace to the Schmidts’ many friends, neighbors, and coworkers as we try to process this horrible tragedy. The Cedar Falls Library will be closed tomorrow for the sake of the staff who loved and worked with Sarah.
3. Sherwin, Whose Motive Is Not Clear, Was From Nebraska, Where He Lived With His Parents
According to the Register, Sherwin was from Nebraska. Online records show he was from La Vista, Nebraska. La Vista Police Chief Bob Lausten told the Register that that Sherwin “lived in an apartment complex with his parents” and had no criminal history.
The motive is not yet clear.
His Facebook page has just a black square for a profile picture. Nothing else is visible on it.
4. There Is a GoFundMe Page to Help the Schmidts’ Surviving Son
The Schmidts left behind a young son named Arlo. There is a GoFundMe page set up to help him.
“Arlo lost both of his parents, Sarah and Tyler Schmidt, and his 6-year-old sister, Lula, to a senseless act of violence during a family vacation at a state park in Iowa on July 22,” it reads.
“Arlo is a strong boy, surrounded by family and friends who are supporting him as best we can. Some of you have asked how you might help, so we (Sarah and Tyler’s siblings and me, her cousin) created this fund to allow anyone who would like to help Arlo. Funds will help Arlo now, and build some savings for his future education.”
5. The Victims Were Remembered as a ‘Beautiful Family’
Jana Morehouse wrote on Facebook:
Today, my life has been shattered. My beautiful, smart, funny, curly haired sister, her husband, and their 6 year old daughter were victims of a random act of violence while camping as a family in Iowa. Their 9 year old son was able to survive and has a lifetime of trauma ahead. He has two sides of the family that love him very much.
Sarah, Tyler, and Lula were not political pawns. They were a family, on vacation, and had everything ahead of them. I cannot fathom that she will no longer be on the other side of the phone. I cannot fathom that I don’t get to see Lula grow up.
Please, pray for my family. Pray for the first responders. Pray for our culture and society. Services, and a Gofundme for my nephew and his future, will be coming shortly. I’m posting now because their names are being named public, and I want people to know that Sarah, and Tyler, and Lula meant everything to our family, and we don’t know how we are going to continue.
A woman who knew the victims wrote on Facebook:
Just before we moved Lula (not Lulu as some news outlets have been reporting) and Arlo were at my house for a play date….
A few evenings before that, I sat in our backyard (way past all of our bedtimes) with Sarah and a couple of other moms of third grade boys chatting and laughing, congratulating ourselves for making it through another school year, and making plans for all of them to come visit in Des Moines soon. In a way, I’m grateful that our move prompted me to say a few things I probably wouldn’t have said on a normal backyard hangout night to my friend who I met through the school PTA and grew to love through our chats in the school pickup line.
This is just such an unbelievable tragedy with a beautiful family at the center. Please keep Arlo and the Schmidts’ extended family in your prayers.