Charges uncertain for suspect of double-murder
April 7, 2014
Erika M. Haberberger-Dains
The story so far
March 10: A midday fire destroys a trailer house and pickup truck on an acreage southeast of Deloit. Investigators find two bodies, later identified as Marvin Huelsing, 80, of Maple River, and Alice Huisenga, 81, of rural Arcadia, in or near the remains of the trailer fire.
March 11: Investigators hold a press conference to ask for public assistance in identifying a pickup truck and two men seen near the acreage the morning of the fire.
March 12: A special tactical team of law officers searches a Denison house overnight with a warrant and arrest Michael D. Schenk, 26, Jayden R. Chapman, 19, and Erika M. Haberberger-Dains, 36, all of Denison, for the deaths of Huelsing and Huisenga.
March 13: Investigators announce the arrests in a press conference in Denison but reveal few details of the alleged crimes. Huelsing's family and friends hold a private, impromptu memorial service near the alleged murder scene.
March 14: Criminal complaints filed in court show that Chapman admitted to investigators that he and Schenk shot Huelsing and Huisenga - and that Schenk burned their bodies - after the victims arrived at the acreage where Chapman, Schenk and Haberberger-Dains were stealing scrap metal.
March 28: Schenk pleads not-guilty to the crimes.
Today: Chapman pleads not-guilty to the crimes.
The 36-year-old Denison woman who was an alleged accomplice in a scrap-metal heist and double-murder last month near Deloit has not been formally charged for the crimes, court records show.
Erika M. Haberberger-Dains was arrested March 12 for two initial charges of first-degree murder along with her alleged cohorts, Michael Schenk, 26, and Jayden Chapman, 19, both of Denison.
Those initial charges were lodged by the law officers who investigated the alleged crimes. But Iowa law requires the attorneys who prosecute criminal cases - in this case, it's Crawford County Attorney Roger Sailer and an assistant Iowa Attorney General - to file formal charges within 45 days of arrests.
Sailer has formally accused Schenk and Chapman of the murder charges and added one for arson.
Chapman allegedly admitted to investigators that the three went to the farmstead southeast of Deloit to steal scrap metal the morning of March 10, and that when they were caught in the act by landowner Marvin Huelsing, 80, of Maple River, and his friend, Alice Huisenga, 81, of rural Arcadia, Chapman and Schenk shot and killed them, and Schenk burned their bodies in a trailer house fire.
But Haberberger-Dains' role in the incident is unclear in public court documents, and Sailer declined to speculate in an interview about what the woman might face.
"We don't know at this point," Sailer said. "We're just in the process of looking at the evidence."
All three are jailed on $500,000 cash bonds.
Schenk and Chapman have pleaded not-guilty to the crimes. Sailer had hoped to try the two men jointly if their cases go to trial, but he said their court-appointed attorneys have asked to keep the trials separate.
Schenk's attorney has also asked - and a judge agreed - that Schenk be allowed to shed his jail jumpsuit and wear normal clothes to court proceedings to "reduce the effect of undue prejudice resulting from televised images of the defendant." Four television stations and several newspapers are reporting the story with cameras.
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