March 27, 2008 06:46
Four adopted Korean children were killed by their adoptive father in the state of Iowa in the U.S. The children had been born to unwed mothers and were abandoned a week to three months after they were born.
According to the local press in Iowa, the four adoptees, Ethan (10), Seth (7), Mira (5), and Eleanor (3), and their adoptive mother Sheryl Sueppel (42) were found dead in their two-story home in Iowa City at 6:30 a.m. on Monday. Authorities believe they died of blunt force trauma.
The adoptive father Steven Sueppel (42) was found dead in a wrecked and burning Toyota minivan that had crashed into a concrete abutment in the median of a highway some 14 km east of town.
Police on Tuesday said Sueppel killed himself after slaying his wife and children, and that it was Sueppel himself who made an emergency call directing officers to his home. Police believe Sueppel killed his family and himself because of the pressures of an impending trial for embezzlement and money laundering. Court records show that Sueppel was indicted last month on charges of stealing about US$560,000 from Hills Bank and Trust in Johnson County, where he was vice president and controller. His trial was scheduled for April 21 at the U.S. District Court in Iowa.
The adoptions of the four children were arranged by Holt Children's Services. An official with Holt said the four children were born to different unmarried mothers.
According to Holt, Ethan, Seth and Eleanor were abandoned by their mothers as soon as they were born. Carrying their one-week-old children, the three unwed mothers visited Holt and asked that their babies be adopted overseas. Mira was three months old when her birth mother visited Holt. "That means Mira's birth mother must have agonized for three months about whether she should raise Mira alone or abandon her for adoption," the Holt official said. The children were adopted by the Sueppels in different years -- Ethan in 1998, Seth in 1999, Mira in 2002, and Eleanor in 2005. Having adopted four children, Steven Sueppel was once called a "humanitarian" by the local press. His wife Sheryl taught at an elementary school until 2001.
Holt Children's Services said, "Holt International Children's Services investigated and found that the Sueppels were a very good family when the children were adopted. They had no criminal records. Mr. Sueppel's parents and brothers had decent jobs."
The Sueppels and their children attended a church service nearby their home on Easter evening. "The Sueppels were very dedicated to raising their children," said a shocked church official. "I can't believe that such a thing has happened."
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