Iowa State Park Campers Evacuated Following Triple Homicide: Report

by Amy Myers

Yesterday, Iowa officials evacuated campers and staff from Maquoketa Caves State Park following a triple homicide that occurred at one of the campgrounds.

Jackson County officers responded to a call stating that there was a shooting at the campground early Friday morning. When they arrived, they found three people dead, all with gunshot wounds.

“At about 6:23 a.m. this morning, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and DCI were notified of a triple homicide at the Maquoketa Caves State Park campground. Officers located three deceased bodies,” the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation said in a statement. “Officers later found that a camper was unaccounted for,” the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation wrote in a press release.

Among the deceased individuals was 23-year-old Anthony Orlando Sherwin, who appeared to have a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Police suspect that Sherwin was the gunman responsible for the killings. As a result, they determined that “there is no danger to the public.”

According to Mitch Mortvedt, assistant director with the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation, there is still one person registered at the park that is unaccounted for.

The park will remain closed until Jackson County Sheriff’s Office has completed its investigation into the triple homicide.

At the time of the shooting, a nearby Christian camp and retreat center was hosting campers for the summer. According to a Facebook post by Camp Shalom, no one from the facility was a victim in the triple homicide.

“There was an emergency situation this morning at the Maquoketa Caves,” Camp Shalom wrote on Facebook. “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.”

Jackson County Officers Release Name of Three Homicide Victims at Iowa State Park

On Friday evening, after alerting next of kin, officers released the names of the three homicide victims. Tyler Schmidt, 42, Sarah Schmidt, 42, and Lula Schmidt, 6, were from Cedar Falls, Iowa. When the shooter arrived at the Iowa state park’s campground, the three were in their tent. Officials later found the shooter’s body “some distance from the campsite but still in the park.”

It is currently unknown if the shooter had any relationship with the victims. According to La Vista Police Chief Bob Lausten, Sherwin had no history of criminal activity and lived in an apartment complex with his parents.

“Law enforcement would like to thank the public for their assistance with the investigation and their concern for the Schmidt family,” the release said.

The next step for the investigation is to conduct an autopsy on all four individuals. The sheriff’s office promised that once complete, they will reveal the results to the public.