Three Men Charged In Kidnapping And Murder Of Woman Dumped Near Lake

Melody Hoffman’s Apple Watch helped investigators track her location — and showed the moment it stopped tracking her heartbeat.

Three Iowa men were arrested in connection to the kidnapping and killing of a 20-year-old woman whose body was found dumped near a lake, police announced.

McKinley Louisma, 23, and Dakota Lyle Van Patten, 18, were arrested and charged on Wednesday with kidnapping and murder in connection to the death of Louisma’s girlfriend, Melody Hoffman, according to criminal complaints shared by Marion police on Thursday. Van Patten also face an additional charge of conspiracy to commit forcible felony.

According to the documents, Iowa County Sheriff deputies responded to a report of a deceased person near Amana Lily Lake in Iowa County, Iowa on Feb.18 to discover Hoffman with “numerous stab and slash wounds to her body.”

Melody Hoffman via Facebook
Melody Hoffman via Facebook

Preliminary opinions by state medical examiners determined that Hoffman’s cause of death was from strangulation, the complaints read.

According to the complaints, investigators were able to track Hoffman’s activity through her iPhone and Apple Watch to determine that she was picked up by Louisma and Van Patten the night before her body was discovered.

Investigators said Hoffman was at Morgan Creek Park when her Apple Watch recorded her “heartbeat intensify before it either stopped or the device deactivated,” according to the complaints.

Law enforcement soon located and searched Louisma’s vehicle and found the victim’s phone case, her Apple Watch band with blood on it, a towing rope and clothing that matched the clothes Hoffman was wearing.

According to the complaints, Louisma allegedly confessed that he was with Van Patten and Hoffman the night of the incident and that they duct taped the victim’s wrist, then forced her into the trunk. Louisma allegedly drove Hoffman from the park to several different locations across Linn County, Iowa.

Louisma also allegedly admitted that Hoffman was beaten during the kidnapping and “was begging to be let go,” according to the complaint.

Surveillance footage cited in the complaints allegedly shows Louisma and Van Patten had purchased gloves and two machetes at a local Walmart, along with a third individual later identified in the Thursday press release as Logan Kimpton, 20.

Kimpton was also arrested and charged on Thursday with conspiracy to commit a forcible felony in connection to Hoffman’s death. According to Kimpton’s complaint , he allegedly confessed that he was with Louisma and Van Patten when they were purchasing the items.

Kimpton was asked by an investigator whether he had “chickened out” of the murder, to which he responded, “Damn right I did,” according to the complaint. Investigators also learned Kimpton told three other people the night before the alleged murder that they planned to kill someone.

According to the complaints, an unnamed witness reported to police that Van Patten had told them he killed “Melody.” Police then executed a search warrant on Patten’s home.

Detectives found portions of the towing rope believed to have been used in the killing, along with Hoffman’s glasses, according to the complaint.

Although law enforcement did not specify a motive behind Hoffman’s murder, Louisma admitted to being in an intimate relationship with the victim while also in a relationship with another woman, according to the complaints.

Speaking at Hoffman’s vigil on Thursday, the victim’s mother, Megan Hoffman, described her daughter as a “loving and caring” person who was also “mischievous,” The Gazette reported.

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-866-331-9474 or text “loveis” to 22522 for the National Dating Abuse Helpline.

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