Authorities say 5 killed in Iowa City shooting

Published: Mar. 24, 2008 at 4:25 PM CDT
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - A woman and her four children were found dead in their home Monday morning, and police were searching for the woman's husband, authorities said.

Dispatchers got a call at 6:31 a.m. saying officers needed to get to the address immediately. The caller then hung up, police said.

Officers found the house unlocked and discovered the bodies inside.

"Lots of family needs to be contacted," Iowa City Police Sgt. Troy Kelsay told The Gazette of Cedar Rapids.

Officers said they were not able to find the woman's husband, Steven Sueppel. Court records show that a Steven Sueppel who lives at the address where the bodies were found was indicted last month on federal charges of stealing about $560,000 from the bank where he worked.

Police also said the family's van was missing. They said a single-vehicle, fatal crash on Interstate 80 about 10 miles from the house may have involved the van. However, the vehicle was on fire so officers were having a difficult time identifying it and the occupant, according to the department news release.

While police initially said the victims had been shot, Kelsay said he was unsure how they were killed.

"I'm not certain that a firearm was ever involved," he said, adding that the victims suffered trauma. "Nobody reported hearing any shots."

Sueppel was charged last month with one count of embezzlement of bank funds and six counts of money laundering while serving as the vice president and controller of Hills Bank and Trust. Authorities said the alleged thefts occurred between July 26, 2000, and Sept. 12, 2007.

Sueppel, 42, pleaded not guilty and was released on $250,000 bail. His trial was scheduled for April 21.

Sueppel's attorney in that case, Leon Spies, said he had heard about the deaths.

"I had great affection for Steve and his family. This is an unimaginable professional and personal tragedy for a lot of people," he said.

Based on the police alert of a gunman, students and faculty at the University of Iowa received text and telephone messages warning that there was an active shooter in the Iowa City area. That message said police were looking for a white man in his 40s, driving a minivan. KCRG-TVF in Cedar Rapids said public schools were locked down as a precaution.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)