Three members of a family camping in an Iowa state park were killed last month, but police released how they died this week and said they were shot, stabbed and strangled.
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Tyler Schmidt, 42, had a gunshot wound alongside multiple stab wounds, The Associated Press reported.
His wife Sarah Schmidt, 42, also had multiple stab wounds, killing her.
The couple’s daughter, Lula Schmidt, 6, died from a gunshot wound and was also strangled.
They were all found in their tent and their deaths were ruled a homicide, The Des Moines Register reported.
The couple’s 9-year-old son, who has not been identified, survived and had no physical injuries. Police have not said if he was in the tent with his family when they died.
The man accused of murdering the family also killed himself with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Anthony Sherwin, 23, was camping with his parents at the Maquoketa Caves State Park campground, police said.
Officials said the shootings were committed with an untraceable home-made weapon called a Ghost Gun, the registry reported.
Sherwin’s parents told the paper that their son built his own firearm because they didn’t want him to buy one, but said building it made sense because of Nebraska’s rising crime rate.
“He was only interested in guns for a few months before he got tired of it. When we started our journey he told us he was going to get rid of them. We were relieved as we had never owned a gun before this year. We only had one in the car on the trip. He had less of a fascination and more of a challenge in building it,” Sherwin’s mother, Cecilia Sherwin, told the newspaper in an email.
“He didn’t want to take the gun with him on the trip, but we thought it would be okay given the crime and the bears,” she told the newspaper. She said a bear came to her camp at least once during her trip.
But although police say Anthony Sherwin used the gun to kill himself, Cecilia Sherwin believes he was murdered.
“He had too much to live to throw it all away like that,” she told the Register.
She claimed her son was working on a computer system “worth millions” and that he and his parents could retire earlier. She didn’t reveal which system was involved, but said her son needed “tight security” over it, the registry reported.
Police have not released a motive but said they believe what led to the killings, the AP reported. They have no intention of making the information public.
Police also didn’t say what was used to stab the family, the registry reported.
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