DAYTON - Members of a small central Iowa city and its surrounding communities expressed sadness and said they felt "robbed of some innocence" on Saturday following the discovery of a body in a river believed to be that of a 15-year-old girl who was abducted more than two weeks ago.
Along streets and businesses in Dayton, about 60 miles north of Des Moines, purple ribbons were neatly tied on trees, blooming flower pots and utility poles.
One large sign near a grocery store on the city's main street read, "PRAY FOR KATHLYNN."
It all signified hope for finding Kathlynn Shepard alive.
But investigators are confident that the body a fisherman found Friday night in the Des Moines River under a bridge near Boone is that of the high school freshman, who was abducted on May 20 along with a 12-year-old girl who later escaped and found help.
"Everyone is full of sadness," said Mary Housken, 45, a utility secretary from nearby Duncombe. "We're glad she's home, but there was a glimmer of hope the circumstances would be different."
An autopsy was completed Saturday and a positive identification is pending. Gerard Meyers, assistant director of field operators for the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, said authorities are confident it's Kathlynn because the clothes on the body matched what the girl was wearing the day she was taken. Authorities also found zip ties that matched those used to restrain the younger girl who escaped.