Longtime Iowa Democrat activist Jonathan Neunaber, has been detained by law enforcement officials in connection with the violent deaths of his mother and father in rural northwest Iowa.
“We believe that he may have knowledge of what happened, what may have transpired before, after and during the deaths,” said Plymouth County Sheriff Mike Van Otterloo.
Neunaber has not been charged with any crime and is being held as a material witness in this case. He lived with his parents at the time of their possible murders.
Jonathan Neunaber, chairman of the Plymouth County Democratic Party, was sought as a witness after the bodies of Donald John Neunaber, 83, and Esther Grace Neunaber, 80, were found in their rural Akron home on Wednesday.
“We almost immediately were able to determine that it didn’t look to be natural causes, self-inflicted or accidental death,” Otterloo stated at a news conference Thursday, according to the Le Mars Daily Sentinel.
Neunaber, 44, was stopped by police Thursday night as he was driving his 2006 Buick in La Crosse, Wis. He was held on an Iowa warrant for questioning as a material witness, Otterloo said.
Political activists in Plymouth County, where Democrats are sparse, said Neunaber was socially awkward but seemed kindhearted and showed no violent tendencies.
Neunaber’s Iowa court record shows only one record — a speeding ticket this spring for driving six to 10 miles over the limit on a 55-mph road in Plymouth County. He lived with his parents in a home built in 1978 about six miles southeast of Akron. According to those who know him, he apparently doesn’t currently have a job.
State Sen. Bill Anderson, R-Pierson, told The Des Moines Register that Neunaber frequently attended legislative forums and took notes on what was said by Anderson and state Rep. Chuck Soderberg, R-Le Mars.
“He was always respectful. I’m shocked,” Anderson said. “He didn’t agree with Chuck and I on a lot of things, but he didn’t come to cause trouble.”
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