Parents and daughter killed at Iowa state park were shot, stabbed and strangled in attack

Triple murder-suicide killer shot, stabbed AND strangled girl, 6, and her parents at Iowa state park and left 9-year-old boy an orphan, autopsy finds

  • Police said Anthony Sherwin, 23, shot, stabbed and strangled Tyler, Sarah and Lula Schmidt before turning the gun on himself
  •  Tyler was shot and stabbed to death, Sarah was only stabbed to death and their 6-year-old daughter Lula was shot and strangled
  • The Schmidt’s 9-year-old son Arlo survived the ordeal and told Sherwin’s mother that her son had killed his family
  • Records show Sherwin had no prior arrests and his family are still trying to ‘absorb’ the loss of their son

A man who was camping at an Iowa park with his parents before ruthlessly murdering two parents and their daughter is found to have shot, stabbed and strangled his victims on the morning of July 22 according to autopsies. 

Anthony Sherwin, 23, of LaVista, Nebraska, murdered married couple Tyler and Sarah Schmidt, both 42, and their daughter Lula, aged 6 at Maquoketa Caves State Park but the couple’s young son, 9-year-old Arlo, escaped the grisly incident unharmed.

Autopsies revealed Tyler was killed by a gunshot wound and ‘multiple sharp force injuries,’ while his wife Sarah was solely killed by sharp force injuries. Their daughter Lula died from a gunshot wound and strangulation.  

Sherwin’s mother Cecilia said that she was awoken by gunshots and a young boy – the Schmidt’s 9-year-old son Arlo – who told her that a man clad in black just killed his family.

Married couple Tyler and Sarah Schmidt, both 42, and their daughter Lula, aged 6 were shot, stabbed and strangled by Anthony Sherwin, 23, while camping at Maquoketa Caves State Park

Married couple Tyler and Sarah Schmidt, both 42, and their daughter Lula, aged 6 were shot, stabbed and strangled by Anthony Sherwin, 23, while camping at Maquoketa Caves State Park

Sherwin was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a wooded area of the park. Police confirmed they believe Sherwin was the killer

Sherwin was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a wooded area of the park. Police confirmed they believe Sherwin was the killer

Pictured: An undated photo of Tyler playing with his daughter Lula. Family members were distraught at knowing they would not see the child grow up

Pictured: An undated photo of Tyler playing with his daughter Lula. Family members were distraught at knowing they would not see the child grow up 

A relative of the Schmidt family reads a statement from the Schmidt family during the Celebration of Life event for Tyler, Sarah, and Lula Schmidt held in Cedar Falls, Iowa

A relative of the Schmidt family reads a statement from the Schmidt family during the Celebration of Life event for Tyler, Sarah, and Lula Schmidt held in Cedar Falls, Iowa

The shooter’s mother said that her son was wearing green, not black, and refused to believe he is behind the horrific triple-murder suicide. It is unclear if he used the family weapon to kill his victims and himself. 

Cecilia told the Omaha World-Herald: ‘We think (Anthony) might have sensed trouble and grabbed the gun for safety. We refuse to believe the news. We are deeply saddened as he had so much to live for and gave us no indication that anything was wrong.’ 

It is unclear if Arlo was in the same place as his sister and parents when they were murdered, and further information about how he was spared has not emerged. 

Sherwin was found dead later from a self-inflicted gunshot wound just west of the campgrounds, in a wooded area. 

The Iowa Department of Public Safety confirmed Sherwin was the killer, but department officials have yet to publicly disclose a motivation for the attack.

Cedar Falls Mayor Rob Green speaks during the Celebration of Life event for the family.  Green said 'please offer some extra grace to the Schmidts' many friends, neighbors, and coworkers as we try to process this horrible tragedy'

Cedar Falls Mayor Rob Green speaks during the Celebration of Life event for the family.  Green said ‘please offer some extra grace to the Schmidts’ many friends, neighbors, and coworkers as we try to process this horrible tragedy’

No motive for the murders has emerged. Sherwin was visiting Iowa from Nebraska. His empty Facebook profile is pictured above

No motive for the murders has emerged. Sherwin was visiting Iowa from Nebraska. His empty Facebook profile is pictured above 

‘Without getting into the fine details of it, with everything that we have learned, we are confident that everything we have reported is how it played out and that he is responsible,’ assistant director of the Department of Public Safety’s division of criminal investigation Mitch Mortvedt said. 

Mortvedt added ‘the investigation has not revealed any early interaction between the Schmidt family and him.’ 

The La Vista Police Department in Nebraska released records showing Sherwin had no prior arrests, and Cecilia called her son ‘kind, sensitive, an exceptional student and an aspiring businessman.’

His Facebook page is completely blank, bar a black square that he used as his profile picture. 

Sarah’s sister, Jana Morehouse, mourned the loss of her sibling and called the attack ‘a random act of violence.’ 

Pictured: Sarah and Tyler Schmit. The couple were neighbor's of Cedar Falls Mayor Rob Green, who urged the community to support their son Arlo, who survived the ordeal

Pictured: Sarah and Tyler Schmit. The couple were neighbor’s of Cedar Falls Mayor Rob Green, who urged the community to support their son Arlo, who survived the ordeal

Officials are unsure if Sherwin had any connection to the victims as no evidence has been discovered so far that the 23-year-old ever interacted with the family

Officials are unsure if Sherwin had any connection to the victims as no evidence has been discovered so far that the 23-year-old ever interacted with the family 

‘Today, my life has been shattered,’ Morehouse wrote. ‘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.’ 

The family of the victims have set up a GoFundMe page to help support Arlo and set up an education fund for his future.    

She added that it was unthinkable for life to go on without her sister or young niece.

I cannot fathom that [Sarah] will no longer be on the other side of the phone,’ Morehouse said. ‘I cannot fathom that I don’t get to see Lula grow up.’ 

Cedar Falls Mayor Rob Green, a neighbor of the Schmidts, also mourned the family’s tragic death on Friday, urging residents to help support Arlo. 

Green, who knew Sarah as she worked at the Cedar Falls Public Library, wrote: ‘Please offer some extra grace to the Schmidts’ many friends, neighbors, and coworkers as we try to process this horrible tragedy.’ 

By Thursday afternoon, the GoFundMe for the Arlo raised more than $276,000, with a Meal Train fundraising page also collecting $850 for the 9-year-old’s food budget. 

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