NEWTON — An Ankeny man suspected of attempting to lure children into his car in Grundy County has been found guilty of kidnapping and sexually abusing girl in Jasper County in August 2016.
Jurors deliberated for about an hour Friday morning before returning a verdict finding 57-year-old Jeff Lee Altmayer guilty of first-degree kidnapping, second-degree sexual abuse and two counts of enticing a minor. Testimony in the trial began late Wednesday.
First-degree kidnapping carries a life sentence, and sentencing has been scheduled for February.
The case was prosecuted by the Iowa Attorney General’s Office. Authorities said Altmayer approached a 12-year-old girl and her friend in Colfax on Aug. 16, 2016. He offered them $100 to come to his home in Des Moines and do yard work, according to police.
The friend declined, but the 12-year-old entered his car, and Altmayer began squeezing her breasts and rubbing her groin area and directed her arm to his groin, records state. The girl repeatedly told him she wanted to leave, and he pulled over and she fled.
Altmayer, who traveled across the state for work, wasn’t arrested until he allegedly approached children in Onawa in November 2016, and a neighbor began following him and alerted authorities who pulled him over. He is awaiting charges in the Onawa incident and also has been charged with approaching children in and around Dike in June and August 2016. Cedar Falls police said he is suspected of a similar incident there.
Altmayer is also awaiting trial for having a weapon in his cell at the Jasper County Jail. Deputies found a sharpened toothbrush handle in a cup in November.
Fire evacuates Deere plant
WATERLOO – A fire near a ventilation stack halted operations at John Deere’s Engine Works facility early Friday.
The plant at 3801 W. Ridgeway Ave. was evacuated shortly before 6 a.m. when workers spotted smoke and flames.
No injuries were reported, and crews with Waterloo Fire Rescue extinguished the blaze and began leaving the scene about an hour later.
The fire started in the wooden framework around a vertical stack coming from a boiler near the roof, said Battalion Chief Ben Petersen with Waterloo Fire Rescue.
“It put a fair amount of smoke up on the upper level. … We had some of the roof decking burned, some of the framework around that stack, but it was handled with minimal water and was under control pretty quick,” Petersen said.
The department used its aerial to place firefighters on the roof. A total of 17 firefighters worked the scene, he said.
He said the facility is back in running order.
2 charged with damaging hotel
PARKERSBURG – A Parkersburg couple has been arrested for damage to a hotel room earlier this month.
Gregory Louis Risse, 58, was arrested Thursday on a warrant for second-degree criminal mischief, second-offense domestic assault and possession of methamphetamine. Traci Lynn Bartholomew, 43, was charged with second-degree criminal mischief and possession of meth and drug paraphernalia.
According to court records, staff at Legend Trail and Inn in Parkersburg called police Jan 4. after housekeeping found blood-covered linens and other damage to a room the two had rented. Cleanup and repaired were estimated to cost $1,500.
In addition to the bloody sheets, Parkersburg officers found bloody pillow cases stuffed inside a Diet Pepsi box, bloody linens in the bathtub and a lampshade with blood spatter, records state.
Officers also found the severed head of a stuffed animal that belonged to the hotel.
There was also a container with a powdery residue that tested positive for meth.
Authorities determined the two had left the room around 2:30 a.m., and Bartholomew was later found with minor injuries, according to court records.
At the time of the incident, Risse was on probation in connection with a December 2014 incident where he was found with a gun at the Isle Casino Hotel in Waterloo. In that case, he had allegedly pushed Bartholomew against a wall, and officers found a black-powder revolver in his jacket, court records state.
Waterloo man reports burglary
WATERLOO — Police are investigating an armed burglary of a residence early Saturday.
Waterloo Police were called to 516 Eastgate Drive at around 1:30 a.m. for a report of a burglary. Resident Anthony Diederich told police several individuals entered his home and displayed a handgun.
It was unknown if anything from the home was taken.
Scrap yard fire causes damage
WATERLOO — A fire at a scrap yard destroyed $30,000 worth of machinery.
Employees at Alter Metal Recycling, 1500 W. Airline Highway, called Waterloo Fire Rescue at 8:53 p.m. Friday for a fire that was out of control in their outside metal storage.
Crews found a pile of scrap metal and machinery on fire when they arrived.
The fire caused $30,000 worth of damage to machinery, according to fire officials. No one was injured in the blaze.
The cause was determined to be spontaneous combustion.
Fire destroys car in intersection
WATERLOO — A fire that started as a car was being driven ended up destroying the vehicle Friday evening.
Waterloo Fire Rescue was called to the intersection of Oaklawn Avenue and West Wellington Street for a passenger vehicle fire just after 6 p.m. Friday.
The driver of a 1998 Volkswagen Beetle told fire officials the vehicle was being driven at the time when an engine component caught fire.
The Beetle was a total loss. No one was injured in the fire.