UPDATE: Couple's death a shock to family and friends
AKRON, Iowa (KTIV) -
Don and Esther Neunaber's family was looking forward to celebrating the couple's 50th wedding anniversary this Sunday. Instead, they'll be planning a funeral.
Esther's brother says they're going through an uncontrollable loss.
"Unbelievable. You don't know what's going to happen in this world. You don't believe it could happen,” said Marvin Hitzemann.
Wednesday, Marvin and Helen Hitezmann got the call no ever expects to get.
“Esther and Don were both dead,” recalled Helen.
The call came from Lisa. She and her husband Brett arrived at the couple's farm house outside of Akron late Wednesday night. They were in town for a wedding in Brett's side of the family. Helen says the wedding took place Friday night in Orange City.
“They got in the house and saw Don sitting in his chair,” Helen said.
She said Lisa quickly realized her father was dead. They dialed 911 and then called family. The couple shared the home with their son Jon. Lisa told Helen his car was gone and he was no where to be found.
"Horrible, shocking. We couldn't believe at first,” said Helen of first learning of the deaths.
It's news that's left the community in shock, too. Donna Martin grew up next to Don.
"I’m still shaken,” said Donna.
"We just would have never ever imagined that happening," added Barbara Mitchell. Mitchell works as the food supervisor at the Akron Senior Center.
The couple was a regular fixture at the senior center on holidays, with their son Jon.
Betty Heyl graduated with him in 1949.
"It was nice. I was always happy to see them come,” said Heyl.
Don won the Iowa Century Farm Award in 2003. The couple lived at the same farm their entire married life.
"Oh, he was an excellent farmer,” said Marvin.
Above all else, Marvin said he was a wonderful husband and father.
“I don't think there could have been a better person than him,” Marvin added.
Those who knew Esther say she was kind and energetic. She was active in her church and loved her community.
"We loved them an awful lot. We're going to miss being together with them and everything,” added Helen.
Don was also Korean War Veteran and active in the American Legion.
Residents said Jon very involved in local politics, even serving as chairman of the Plymouth County Democrats.
Several people said he was smart, but also quiet, describing him as a "loner."
They also said he would do anything for his parents, driving them to appointments, and cooking all their meals.
That responsibility grew over the last several years, as Esther battled breast cancer and Don’s health deteriorated.
"I did think he kind of got overwhelmed with all he had to do," said Helen.
Jon Neunaber appeared in a La Crosse, Wisconsin courtroom, Friday.
A material witness warrant was issued Thursday for the 44-year old after his parents' bodies were found in their Akron, Iowa home.
La Crosse Police arrested Neunaber Thursday night around 8:30. Friday, he waived extradition to return to Iowa.
The Plymouth County Sheriff says Neunaber is a person of interest in the case. He has not been charged.
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