On July 22nd of last year, a woman was woken up by a child who said his family had been killed at a tent in the Maquoketa Caves State Park. The child was nine-year-old Arlo Schmidt, the lone surviving member of the family.
Cecilia Sherwin is the mother of Maquoketa Caves killer 23-year-old Anthony Sherwin. She’s also the caller who brought police to the scene the morning of July 22, 2022 after the triple murder-suicide. It reveals more details about what happened that day at the park.
The phone call was made around 6:45 a.m. that morning, and during the phone call, dispatch can be heard asking Sherwin questions, like their current location.
“Yeah, so it’s going to be in the campground as you enter,” Sherwin told dispatch. “You can turn left. We’ll show them. We’ll show them when they get here.”
Arlo Schmidt was the only one to survive in his family and was with Sherwin as she made the call. Just moments after his family was killed, he ran for help.
Sherwin told the dispatcher that she heard gunshots before Arlo came running to her tent.
“What’s his name?” dispatch asked.
“Arlo; he was up screaming in the tent, and we heard the shot,” Sherwin told dispatch. “Nobody came out, but nobody came out, so we went up towards the entrance.”
At one point during the conversation. the dispatcher had to put Sherwin on hold to contact the park rangers and sheriff’s office. They lose connection with the call, and Sherwin had to call the dispatcher back.
“Yeah this is the sheriff’s office,” dispatch said. “Have you found anything else out now?”
Sherwin said they hadn’t.
“Okay, where are you exactly at up there at the campground?” dispatch asked again.
“At the entrance with a little boy,” Sherwin said.
The dispatcher also had questions for Schmidt.
“Who was in the tent?” dispatch asked.
“Uh, me, my mom, my sister and my dad,” Schmidt said.
“So what happened in there?” dispatch asked.
“I woke up, and there was a guy, like, in black clothes,” Schmidt said. ‘And they had a weapon, and my sister was screaming. I think it was some kind of small gun.”
Investigators have never said why they think this happened, but they have closed the case. Police reported Anthony Sherwin killed himself a short time later in the campgrounds.