DUBUQUE, Iowa — Authorities say the 66-year-old woman who was sexually assaulted and beaten to death this week in downtown Dubuque had worked as a church secretary and enjoyed early morning walks.
Police identified the victim in the early Tuesday attack as Dubuque resident Nancy Krapfl, who died at a hospital.
Helmon Betwell, 19, is charged with murder, sexual assault and burglary and remains in custody pending $1 million bail. His attorney Theresa Sampson Brown said Friday the defense team wouldn't comment.
Court documents say Betwell told investigators he didn't know Krapfl and that she was "in the wrong place at the wrong time."
In court documents, Betwell allegedly told police he was breaking into vehicles when he noticed a woman crossing the street. Police said he acknowledged knocking her unconscious and then carrying her to a vacant property, where he raped her and "hit her everywhere."
He told police he attacked her because "there was nothing better to do," the court documents said.
Police were called by a neighbor who saw the initial assault.
"It's sickening. It really is," Lt. Scott Baxter told KCRG-TV. "And scary that a human being could do this to another human being. Especially someone who had never really done anything wrong."
Family members released a statement Thursday that described Krapfl as a quiet person who grew up on a farm near Farley, just west of Dubuque, and lived in Denver for many years. She returned to Dubuque in 2000 and had worked as a church secretary and caregiver for relatives.
Her family said she enjoyed walking early to avoid the summer heat.
"We are shocked by her death," the family said in the statement. "We will never understand the brutality."
A small memorial with flowers, a stuffed animal and cards has been created near where Krapfl was attacked.
It was the fourth homicide in Dubuque this year.