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Layne Schneider’s family members have established a “Justice for Layne Schneider” page on the fundraising site, GoFundMe.com, in efforts to raise funds and support for a civil suit they filed in Fayette County District Court. Though the civil suit will not bring Layne back, says Layne’s brother Rick, it may help bring closure to the family and friends that are still hurting.
A benefit fund account has also been set up (Justice for Layne Edward Schneider), and donations can be sent to:
Kerndt Bros. Savings Bank
P.O. Box 7
Clermont, Iowa 52135
All funds raised will be used to assist with court costs and attorney fees.
Layne Edward Schneider, 22, of Elgin, Iowa, was brutally beaten to death inside his rural Fayette County home sometime in the early morning hours on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013. His bloodied, lifeless body was then taken from the home and placed inside a pickup truck owned by Steven Bilden of Elgin, who shared the rural home with Schneider.
Someone drove the pickup eastbound on 180th Street about four miles northwest of Wadena, and, just after passing the Echo Road intersection, one or more individuals moved the vehicle into the north ditch where it continued down the ditch embankment, crossed over a washout, and continued north until the vehicle rolled up against a tree.
One or more individuals then used an accelerant to set the vehicle afire — the deceased Schneider’s body still inside — about one and one-half miles from Schneider’s home.
A call about a burning vehicle came into the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office at 4:35 a.m.
Darrol Mohlis of the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office, the first officer to respond, arrived at the scene at 4:45 a.m.
The local fire department and rescue workers weren’t aware of anyone being inside the pickup until firefighters extinguished the blaze, at which time local law enforcement officers retrieved the body from Bilden’s pickup.
Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) officials initially believed the vehicle had sat in the same area for a period of time before becoming “hot” and starting a grass fire beneath the truck.
Fayette County Sheriff Marty Fisher initially said the case was being considered an accident but that the investigation was ongoing.
Further tests conducted by the IDOT and the State Medical Examiner’s Office showed the fire had been set using an accelerant and also determined Schneider was “deceased prior to the vehicle running off the roadway.”
The 22-year-old suffered a skull fracture, was struck in the back with a pipe-like blunt heavy object, and both his legs beaten and broken before being dragged out to the pickup and driven down the road. Once the truck had been steered off-road and into a tree, it allegedly was set afire in efforts to cover up the crime and conceal the true extent of Schneider’s injuries.
On Friday, May 31, 2013, the Fayette County Speedway held a special Memorial night race for Schneider, who raced his flyer regularly at the speedway. (The event originally was scheduled for May 10 but was postponed.)
During intermission, 4-Cylinder Class drivers were introduced as a salute to Schneider, who formerly raced in the division. The drivers then entered the grandstand area to pass their helmets through the crowd for donations.
In addition to those monies raised, the Race Committee donated their proceeds from the evening’s 50/50 drawing to Schneider’s family.
In January 2016, Layne Schneider’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Fayette County District Court against Wade Lenth, alleging that on Jan. 22, 2013, defendant Wade A. Lenth maliciously, intentionally and unlawfully caused Layne Schneider’s death by beating him and forcefully removing him from his home and into a vehicle.
According to an Elgin Echo story published Feb. 3, 2016, the suit further alleges that Lenth then drove Schneider to a secluded wooded location and set the vehicle on fire with Schneider inside.
According to phone calls, correspondence and court documents provided to Iowa Cold Cases, the poorly staged “accident” left behind a bloody crime scene inside the house and a bloody trail on the outside lawn leading up to the pickup’s passenger-side door where Schneider’s body had been hoisted up and placed on the seat.
Schneider’s parents hope to find justice through a civil court jury trial because no criminal charges have yet been filed in their son’s brutal beating death.
Additional evidentiary items will be presented during the trial.
Layne Edward Schneider, 22, of Elgin, Iowa died Tuesday, January 22, 2013. He was born July 2, 1990 in West Union, Iowa to Edward Schneider and Susan (Gunderson) White. He was baptized on November 25, 1990 and confirmed on April 10, 2005 at the West Clermont Lutheran Church in Clermont, Iowa.
Layne graduated from Valley High School on May 24, 2009.
Layne did custom work for Jason Klemp and also farmed with Jake Larson and John and Megan Schroeder.
When he was a young man, he enjoyed riding in the semi hauling milk with his dad. Layne enjoyed hunting, playing pool, fishing, racing, snowmobiling, camping, farming, being with friends, watching TV and movies, spending time at the river, being around kids and he also liked to cook.
Layne’s survivors included his mother, Susan (Craig Jensen) White of Elgin and Edward Schneider of Clermont; his brothers, Linn (Corinne Cole) White and their children, Damon and Stella of New Virginia, Iowa, Leif (Jenn) White and their children, Bjorn and Declan of Clermont and Rick Schneider of Ft. Collins, Colorado; grandparents, Gerald Schneider of Postville, Lydia Murphy of West Union, and Ruth Gunderson of Monona; and many aunts, uncles and cousins.
His maternal grandfather, Emmet Gunderson, and paternal stepgrandfather, Eugene Murphy, preceded him in death.
Visitation was held Monday, February 18, 2013 from 4 – 8 p.m. at West Clermont Lutheran Church, Clermont, Iowa and one hour before services on Tuesday.
Funeral Services were held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, February 19, 2013, at West Clermont Lutheran Church with Pastor Dayna Winke officiating.
Inurnment followed at the East Clermont Lutheran Cemetery in rural Clermont, with lunch served at Brick City following the inurnment.
Schutte-Grau Funeral Home and Cremation Service of Clermont, Iowa helped the family with arrangements.
If you have any information about Layne Schneider’s death please contact the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at (515) 725-6010 or the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office at (563) 422-6067.