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After Stranger Killed Family At Campsite, Surviving Child Ran To Killer's Mother For Help

After Anthony Orlando Sherwin apparently shot Arlo Schmidt's parents and sister to death, the young boy ran for help. 


By Gina Tron
Tyler Schmidt, left, and his wife Sarah pose with their son Arlo and daughter Lula

After a man apparently opened fire upon a family he had never interacted with before at an Iowa campground, the 9-year-old sole survivor ran to seek help.

The bodies of Tyler and Sarah Schmidt, both 42, and their daughter Lula Schmidt, 6, were discovered in the family's tent early Friday morning at the Maquoketa Caves State Park campground in Iowa, according to a press release from the Iowa Department of Public Safety. The couple’s son, Arlo Schmidt, 9, survived the attack. 

The body of the suspect, 23-year-old Anthony Orlando Sherwin, was later found west of the park after he “suffered a self-inflicted gunshot,” according to the Iowa Department of Public Safety.

Sherwin, like Arlo, was also camping with his parents at the campground, WHBF-TV reports. In fact, the families were camping just 75 yards away from one another. 

Sherwin and the victims apparently did not know one another and had no interaction with one another before the murders. 

"All we know is that this was completely random, nobody in either's family knew anybody," Sarah's brother Adam Morehouse told WHBF-TV. "We didn't know the suspect; the suspect didn't know us."

He added, "We don't know of any interaction that occurred. It was simply this individual woke up that morning and decided to pick a tent and walk into that tent, where my sister and her family were sleeping, and never got a chance to wake up.”

Sherwin’s mother, Cecilia Sherwin, told the Papillion Times that she heard Arlo yelling for help after the shooting. She claims he told her that a man dressed in black had shot his family.

Cecilia told the outlet that she refuses to believe that her son is a killer, noting that he was last seen wearing green. "We think [Anthony] might have sensed trouble and grabbed the gun for safety," Cecilia said, per the outlet. "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."

A police handout of Anthony Sherwin

Sherwin lived in La Vista, Nebraska with his parents. He had no criminal record. The slain family is from Cedar Falls, located about 120 miles from the campsite.

Iowa DCI Assistant Director Mitch Mortvedt told WHBF that they have yet to determine a motive for the slayings. He said investigators have found "nothing that we can establish that precipitated anything, other than just the randomness of it, the proximity."

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