Murder Charges Filed in Stabbing Death of William Penn Athlete

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OSKALOOSA, Iowa -- On March 1, 22 year-old William Penn basketball player Marquis Todd was stabbed to death after police say a minor car accident turned into a fight.  On Wednesday police arrested and charged 23 year-old Oskaloosa resident Luke VanHemert with second degree murder.

Police say the investigation took longer than they would have liked, saying they had to comb through many tips and social media posts, sorting fact from fiction.

“The investigation, to this point has not revealed anything related to race. This all happened in regard to a minor traffic incident” said DCI Special Agent Michael Motsinger.

Police say Todd was with a group of friends in a car when they got into a small accident with VanHemert's group of friends in front of VanHemert’s home.  Police say the driver of Todd's car left and came back to the scene two times.

“On the third occasion they got involved with the other party which resulted in a physical altercation which obviously lead to the stabbing incident” said Motsinger.

Police say before the fight there was a verbal altercation, and their investigation shows VanHemert was the only one engaged with Todd.

Police say two other people from each group were involved in the fight and any further charges would be filed by the County Attorney’s Office.

William Penn student Elizabeth Shaffer says the death came as a shock to the university and says no matter if you knew Todd personally or not, his death was felt.

“So many people told me how wonderful of a guy he was. He was always nice and smiling and it was just a shame to see something like this happen to him. It also broke us down as students, we suffered emotionally, mentally, and everyone here was just hurting from it” she said.

Shaffer says hopefully, the arrest allows students to start healing.

“I know there's a lot of people very upset and they were waiting to get some kind of answers to what happened, so hopefully this'll start helping everybody...not move on...but just help them with their grief” said Shaffer.

VanHemert is being held at the Mahaska County Jail on a $500,000 cash bond.


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