Search Warrants Reveal New Details In Shafer Death

Oskaloosa, Iowa – On August 20th, authorities announced the arrests of Cody Vancenbrock, Nicholas Kelly, and Holly Kelly in the death of Ashley Shafer, who was reported missing on August 5th, and found dead on August 6th.

At that time, officials announced that Shafer had died of a methamphetamine overdose and that her body had been disposed of in the South Skunk River. Newly unsealed search warrants, as first obtained by Oskaloosa News, have revealed more of the events leading up to the disappearance of Shafer, as well as the discovery of her body.

According to an affidavit contained with one of two search warrants, dated August 6th, Shafer was reported missing to the Mahaska County Dispatch center after she failed to pick up her children. Shortly after she was reported missing, the mother of Shafer made a Facebook posting looking for information into the whereabouts of Shafer. After that post was made, she began to receive messages with information as to what had happened to Shafer.

“[Shafer’s mother] reported she received more than one message from individuals that Ashley had a drug overdose and that two men had dumped her body somewhere,” states the affidavit in the search warrant.

Through this information, Shafer’s mother informed the Oskaloosa Police Department that she believed Shafer had been at the Santa Clara Apartments. When police arrived at the apartments, they made-contact-with Nicholas Kelly who, according to the affidavit, denied to the police knowing Shafer, “and stated nothing happened there last night.” Officers did not push the subject, according to the warrant application, and left the complex at that time. However, as Shafer’s mother continued to receive information and turn it into investigators, attention once again focused on the Kelly residence, as well as Cody Vancenbrock.

Eventually, it was decided that officers would return to the apartment of Nicholas Kelly for the third time. Officers encountered Kelly sitting outside the apartment in his vehicle, a Ford Focus. Kelly was escorted back to his apartment, where the officers found Cody Vancenbrock. According to the affidavit, Vancenbrock and Kelly were separated and questioned about what had happened with Shafer. Vancenbrock and Kelly stated that Shafer had overdosed; however, they pointed the finger at each other as to who had administered the drugs. According to the affidavit, they tried to perform CPR on Shafer but could not revive her.

The affidavit also states that Kelly and Vancenbrock called a person they claim to be a paramedic, who came to the apartment and evaluated Shafer, and determined that she was deceased. At this point, according to the affidavit, the decision was made to dispose of Shafer’s body.

“Nicholas and Cody said they put Ashley’s body in the 2000 Ford Focus owned by Nicholas and took her body to Glendale Access. Bolt cutters from Nicholas’ car were used to cut a cable barrier. “When they got closer to the water, they took Ashley’s body from the car and used an electrical cord from the trunk to tie a spare tire to Ashely before dumping her in the water,” states the warrant.

A second search warrant revealed details relating to Shafer’s autopsy. The warrant, dated August 7th, reveals that on August 7th, the state medical examiner’s office completed an autopsy of Shafer. During the autopsy, evidence of injury “potentially indicative of an assault,” including significant internal and external injuries.

“The doctor reported these injuries appeared [to be] inflicted prior to Ashley’s death. He also observed blood on her underwear that he considered notable and concerning. A sexual assault kit has been collected and is pending at this time,” states the warrant.

A return of service on both warrants reveals a bevy of evidence seized in the investigation. Cell phones and numerous pieces of drug paraphernalia, as well as drugs themselves, were all seized on the night of August 6th into August 7th. Bolt cutters from the Ford Focus, as well as a “trouble light with cut cord” were also seized on the afternoon of August 7th. Buccal samples, DNA swabs from inside the mouth, were also taken of Cody Vancenbrock, as well as Nicholas and Holly Kelly. Additional buccal swabs from those in the residence at the time of Shafer’s death were also taken.

Cody Vancenbrock is currently charged with one count each of Involuntary Manslaughter (Class D Felony), Delivery of a Controlled Substance (Class D Felony), Abuse of a Corpse (Class D Felony) and Sponsoring a Drug House (Aggravated Misdemeanor). He is being held in the Mahaska County Jail on a $350,000 cash-only bond. A preliminary hearing has been set for Vancenbrock for August 29th at 11:45 a.m. Online court records indicate that the state public defender has been appointed to represent Vancenbrock.

Nicholas Kelly has been charged with one count each of Abuse of a Corpse (Class D Felony) and Sponsoring a Drug House (Aggravated Misdemeanor). He is currently being held on $250,000 cash-only bond. Attorney Bob Breckenridge is listed as his attorney.

Holly Kelly is currently charged with one count of Aiding and Abetting – Abuse of a Corpse (Class D Felony). On August 21st, Holly posted a $5,000 surety bond and was released. She is set to appear in court on August 28th, at 9 a.m., for a preliminary hearing. Albia Attorney Steven Goodlow is listed as her attorney.

Posted by on Aug 21 2019. Filed under Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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