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Quad-City Times
Davenport, Iowa
July 16, 2009


WHEATLAND, Iowa — Everett C. KNUDTSON, 69, of Wheatland, Iowa, died Tuesday, July 14, 2009, at his home.

Services will be 10:30 a.m. Friday at St. Paul's United Church of Christ, Wheatland. The Rev. Lynne BISSON will officiate. Burial will be in St. Paul's Church Cemetery. Visitation will be 3-8 p.m. today at Chapman Funeral Home, Wheatland.

He was born June 10, 1940, in Waukon, Iowa, to Clarence KNUDTSON and Grace A. BERGH KNUDTSON. He married Carol ADAMS on May 2, 1970, in Iowa City.

Everett was a 1957 graduate of Waukon High School and received a M.A. Degree for University of Iowa in Elementary Education. He received his B.S. Degree from Upper Iowa.

[Everett was a teacher and coach at Grand Valley Community School, Kellerton and Grand River.] Everett had been elementary principal at Calamus-Wheatland School, retiring in 2000. He also had taught drivers education at Tipton and Cal-Wheat for many years. He had umpired baseball and softball and refereed football. He also had coached basketball and track. He was a retired member of Wheatland Fire Department and had served on St. Paul's Church consistory for two terms. Everett served on the Clinton County Foster Care Review Board and was a lifetime member of School Administrator of Iowa.

Survivors include his wife, Carol; son, Scott (Angi), and their children, Brandan, Courtni, Cassandra and Emily; daughter, Shari (Bill) JARRELL, of Calamus; brother, Lester (June), of LaCrosse Wis.; an aunt, Helen BERGH, of Waukon; and many nieces, nephews and cousins.

He was preceded in death by his parents, a son, Shane.

Online condolences may be sent to A memorial fund has been established.

Quad-City Times
Davenport, Iowa
April 11, 2005
by Kay Luna

Parents of murder victims join forces to reach out

WHEATLAND, Iowa — Carol KNUDTSON tries to talk about finding one of her son's T-shirts, pulling it close to her nose and hoping — no, searching — for his familiar smell.

The rush of memories forces her to stop.

For a moment, the Wheatland woman bows her head, closing her teary eyes as she thinks about her 27-year-old son, Shane, before his murder 2002 in Kansas City, Kan. Then, smiling bravely, she goes on.

"You don’t realize the emotion," she says, as her husband, Everett, looks on.

The brutal killing of 16-year-old Adrianne REYNOLDS of East Moline opened up their wounds again. That's part of what inspired the KNUDTSONS and Dave and Jeanne HAPP of Durant, who also lost a child to homicide, to join forces to try to help others, and themselves.

The couples are organizing a Quad-City area grief support group open to people of all ages and walks of life, with its first meeting Tuesday in Davenport. Anyone grieving a loss — whether it happened last week or last year or 50 years ago — is welcome, they said.

"It's for people with heavy hearts, right, Jeanne?" Carol KNUDTSON said. She met the Durant couple, after losing her son, through a mutual acquaintance in Wheatland. They know all too well what heavy hearts feel like.

The HAPPS' daughter, 27-year-old Jennifer HAPP, was a third-grade teacher in Joliet, Ill., when she was sexually assaulted and killed in her home in 1996.

The killer, who was just 16 at the time, was arrested five years later. Until Ashanti LUSBY was caught, the Happs said they lived in fear and confusion, suspecting everyone they knew might be involved.

LUSBY, 22, was found guilty of murder, sexual assault and home invasion at his 2002 trial and was sentenced to 130 years in prison. Dave HAOO said under state law, LUSBY will have to serve at least 65 years of his sentence.

While the HAPPS struggled through a murder trial, the KNUDSTONS were agonizing over their own family's tragedy.

Everett KNUDSTON said he remembers being startled awake by the ringing telephone early one morning in January 2002, foggily grabbing the receiver. He couldn't hear the voice on the other end very well, but heard him ask how he was related to Shane KNUDTSON.

"I'm his father," he said.

The caller spoke again, but the connection was bad. The man said he'd call back on another line.

When Everett KNUDTSON checked the caller ID, it showed the phone call came from a U.S. government office. That couldn't be good, he thought.

In a few minutes, the KNUDTSON other son, who lived across the street, showed up at the house, visibly shaken. One of Shane's friends in Missouri had urged police to notify another relative in Iowa about the young man's death, but not to call back his dad.

"He told them, 'His dad has a bad heart,'" Everett KNUDTSON said.

That was the start of their nightmare.

Melvin HARRIS, an acquaintance of Shane's while he lived in Independence, Mo., was arrested a few days later and charged in the shooting death. HARRIS was convicted of second-degree murder in late 2002 and sentenced to 51 years and eight months in prison. [NOTE: HARRIS' first trial ended as being declared a mistrial one one of the jurors fell asleep during testimony and audibly was snoring in the courtroom. HARRIS was convicted during a second trial later the same year.]

No matter how much time goes by, the KNUDTSON remain haunted by their grief. They moved to a new house across town, looking for a fresh start, but the pain lingers.

"Tragedy can affect anyone," Carol KNUDTSON said. "Once it's touched you, it's forever."

They notice the burden lifts away sometimes when they talk about what happened, especially with others who went through a similar experience. Jeanne HAPP said it's comforting to hash out the wide range of emotions together, laughing and crying, listening and venting.

Although other grief support groups already exist, most focus on certain types of loss or age groups of victims. That won't play a factor in the new group.

Participants will decide after the first meeting if they should become a branch of a larger organization, or stay independent. They'll think of a name together and plan on meeting bi-monthly.

"You don’t realize how close to the surface the hurt is," Dave HAPP said, tears forming in his eyes. "I know I'll get more out of this than I've put into it."

NOTE: Cory Charles GREGORY (17) and Sarah Anne KOLB (16) were convicted of the January 21, 2005 murder of Adrianne Leigh REYNOLDS (16). The motive for the murder was KOLB'S jealousy due to Adrianne's popularity as a new student at the school. Nathan GAUDET (16) pled guilty to the concealment of a homicide, aiding and abetting in the disposal of Ms. REYNOLDS' body. He served four years of a five-year sentence in juvenile detention. KOLB was sentenced to 48 years in prison and GERGORY was sentenced to 40 years. Both received another five-year sentence for concealing a homicide.

Shane KNUDTSON (27) was working part-time at a Kansas City, Missouri casino. As he and an acquaintance, Melvin HARRIS (23) sat in a parked car, HARRIS pulled a gun on KNUDTSON, shooting him five times on January 19, 2002. HARRIS later claimed that KNUDTSON had grabbed his knee. HARRIS, charged with first-degree murder, theft and forgery, first trial made national headlines when a member of the jury fell asleep and began snoring loudly. The judge was forced to declare a mistrial.

Transcriptions by Sharon R. Becker, June of 2011

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