EARLY, Iowa — When Gary Schramm pulled up to the sedan that had slid off a country road Thursday morning, he expected to find a kid who had lost control of the car on the way to school.
He didn't expect to find a young woman screaming that she had been kidnapped and a young man who, authorities allege, killed his mother hours before.
“It's just a shock,” the local farmer said Monday.
Things started calmly.
Schramm chatted with the young man — later identified as Kirk Riley Levin, 21 — at the rear of the car and offered him a lift. Then a young woman burst from the vehicle, Schramm said, shouting, “'He's kidnapped me! … Don't let him hurt me!' She was frantic.”
Schramm said Levin looked at him with an expression that seemed to say, “Uh-oh, I'm in trouble.”
Then Levin started to walk away. After taking a few steps, he looked back at Schramm and took off running, Schramm said.
Deputies later found Levin in a barn and arrested him on suspicion of third-degree kidnapping and other offenses.
On Monday, authorities added another accusation: first-degree murder.
Investigators believe that Levin stabbed his mother, Marilyn Schmitt, 45, to death early Thursday in an upstairs bedroom of her home on Ira Avenue, about two miles west of Early. According to court documents, Levin told investigators that he remembers choking his mother and that he was the only one who could have killed her.
The young woman, 21, told authorities that Levin showed up at her Storm Lake home about 6:30 a.m. and asked for a ride to Early. Levin then kidnapped her, authorities said.
Levin also has been charged with two other felonies: assault with intent to commit sexual abuse and assault while participating in a felony.
Levin is being held at the Sac County Jail. He had been released from Mount Pleasant Correctional Facility on New Year's Day after serving a little more than two years of a five-year burglary sentence. Schmitt had driven across the state to southeast Iowa to pick him up.
Schramm said he didn't know Schmitt or Levin well. Schmitt was from the area but had lived in Wisconsin for a number of years before moving back to the Early area a few years ago.
“She was a nice gal,” he said. “Always had a smile on her face. Never said or did anything bad.”
Some are calling Schramm a hero for interrupting what has been described as a kidnapping. Schramm disputes that. He points out that Levin went off the road and partially into a ditch a few feet from U.S. Highway 20. Nothing was likely to happen to the woman in full view of so many motorists.
“I'm just a normal guy who stopped to help,” said Schramm. “I think the good Lord was the one looking out for her. ... That's what saved her life was her going into the ditch.”
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