Autopsy: Family Killed at Iowa Park Shot, Stabbed, Strangled

Autopsy: Family Killed at Iowa Park Shot, Stabbed, Strangled
Tyler Schmidt and his wife Sarah pose with their son Arlo and daughter Lula during a family outing in a file photo. (Courtesy of the Schmidt and Morehead families)

Three family members killed during a shooting last month at an eastern Iowa state park were shot, stabbed and/or strangled, according to autopsy results released Thursday.

Tyler Schmidt, 42, died from a gunshot wound and “multiple sharp force injuries,” while his wife, 42-year-old Sarah Schmidt, died from multiple sharp force injuries, the Iowa Department of Public Safety said in a news release. Their 6-year-old daughter, Lula Schmidt, died from a gunshot wound and strangulation, officials said.

All three family members’ deaths have been ruled homicides. The Schmidts’ 9-year-old son, who was with his family on the camping trip, survived the attack without physical injuries, but investigators have not said whether he was in the tent when the attack happened.

Tyler Schmidt's family
Tyler Schmidt (L) and his wife Sarah pose with their son Arlo and daughter Lula (R) while hiking near Cedar Falls, Iowa, in 2022. (Courtesy of the Schmidt and Morehead families via AP)

The department confirmed Thursday that the killer was Anthony Sherwin, 23, of LaVista, Nebraska, who died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound after the family was attacked early on the morning of July 22 in their tent at the Maquoketa Caves State Park campground. Sherwin was at the park camping with his parents at the time of the attack, according to police and Sherwin’s mother.

Investigators said all evidence collected substantiates that Sherwin acted alone, but police have not revealed a motive for the killings. Mitch Mortvedt, assistant director of the Department of Public Safety’s division of criminal investigation, said Thursday that investigators “have indications as to what the motive was,” but don’t plan to release that information.

Anthony Sherwin
Anthony Sherwin. (Iowa Department of Public Safety via AP)

Police who swarmed the park about 180 miles east of Des Moines in the wake of the shooting found Sherwin’s body outside the campground but within a wooded area of the park.

A memorial to celebrate the lives of the Schmidts was held Tuesday in their hometown of Cedar Falls, Iowa, drawing about 200 people.

Tyler and Sarah Schmidt
A photo of Tyler and Sarah Schmidt on the podium during the Celebration of Life event for Tyler, Sarah, and Lula Schmidt held at Overman Park in Cedar Falls, Iowa, on Aug. 2, 2022. (Chris Zoeller/The Courier via AP)

By Margery A. Beck

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