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Iowa men out on bond accused of throwing duct-tape bound woman in trunk, killing her, dumping body near lake

A woman's body discovered near an Iowa County lake over the weekend has been identified by investigators as that of 20-year-old Melody Hoffman.

Two Iowa men have been arrested in connection to a woman's body being found near an Iowa County lake.

According to the Iowa County Sheriff’s Office, authorities have identified the victim as Melody Hoffman, 20.

On Sunday, deputies responded to a report of a body being found near a picnic area at Amana Lily Lake.

On Tuesday, McKinley Louisma, 23, who was allegedly in an intimate relationship with Hoffman, was arrested and charged in connection to her death, according to WHO 13.

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Louisma was also out on bond when investigators reported that he kidnapped Hoffman, according to KCRG. 

On Wednesday, authorities arrested another suspect in connection to Hoffman's murder.

Officials announced that Dakota Van Patten, 18, has also been charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping, and conspiracy to commit a forcible felony in the death of Hoffman.

Court records obtained by KCRG indicate that Louisma and Van Patten knew each other beforehand. Both were accused of beating the same man back on January 14, 2024, at an apartment in Cedar Rapids. Both were released on bond in that case.

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During a search warrant, investigators found Hoffman’s phone case, a white Apple Watch band with blood on it, a bungee cord, a towing rope, gloves, and clothes in a bag matching the ones Hoffman was wearing, the affidavit revealed. 

Court records obtained by Fox News Digital detailed what investigators say happened after Louisma picked Hoffman up at 11:00 p.m. Saturday.

According to court documents, Hoffman was picked up by Louisma on the night of Feb. 17 and remained with him until she died.

Investigators used data from Hoffman’s iPhone and Apple Watch to piece together her last moments.

The data showed that Hoffman was at Morgan Creek Park in Linn County when her Apple Watch recorded her heartbeat intensifying before "it either stopped or the device deactivated."

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During an interrogation, Louisma told investigators he and another unidentified person bound Hoffman’s wrists with duct tape, put her in the trunk of the car, and drove to several locations until they reached Lily Lake in Amana.

Louisma admitted Hoffman begged to be let go, was beaten, and stabbed and slashed multiple times. 

The Iowa State Medical Examiner’s Office determined the preliminary cause of death was strangulation.

Court documents show Louisma was part of two previous investigations involving accusations of violence. One was in Manchester involving sexual assault. The other was in Cedar Rapids claiming Louisma attacked a man, causing serious injury.

Jail records show Louisma was charged with first-degree kidnapping and conspiracy to commit forcible felony. He is being held at the Linn County Jail on a $50,000 cash-only bond. A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for March 1.

A candlelight vigil in Melody's memory was being held Thursday evening in Marion. 

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