Developing: Mason City police investigating double homicide


MASON CITY, Iowa – A Lake Mills man is in custody and the investigation continues after two Mason City residents were found dead overnight Wednesday.

Caleb Christensen
Caleb Christensen

Around 2:15 a.m., Mason City police responded to 1620 North Hampshire Ave. to investigate a report of a shooting. They found 54-year-old Melinda Kavars and 37-year-old Caleb Christensen dead inside the home, according to a Police Department news release.

A suspect, 30-year-old Peter Veal, of Lake Mills, was arrested around 2:30 a.m. after a brief foot chase near 12th St. NE and North Carolina Avenue. He’s been charged with two counts of first-degree murder and is currently being held in the Cerro Gordo County Jail on a $1 million bond.

Peter Veal

Cerro Gordo County deputies and the Mason City Fire Department also responded to the initial call. The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation is assisting the Police Department with the investigation and autopsies will be performed at the Iowa State Medical Examiner’s Office.

Property records show the house has been under Christensen’s name since 2004.

Veal was last booked in the Cerro Gordo County Jail on Oct. 8 on Hancock County warrants — he was wanted for criminal trespass.  Before that was Aug. 8 on Winnebago and Hancock County warrants. He was wanted for disorderly conduct in Winnebago County and criminal trespass in Hancock County.

In September 2013, he was arrested for assault, felony domestic strangulation, false imprisonment and third-degree criminal mischief.

In May 2008, Veal was sentenced to a year in jail on a charge of assault causing bodily injury.

We’ve also learned that Veal is the brother of Ruthann Veal, of Mason City, who was convicted of murder in the 1993 killing of Catherine Haynes, of Waterloo. She was 14 when she was charged as an adult.

Ruthann Veal
Ruthann Veal

Mason City’s last murder was in 2013 when Thomas Barlas Jr. stabbed his father to death. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Anyone with additional information about the overnight incident is encouraged to call the Mason City Police Department at 641-421-3636.

This post will be updated as more details are released.

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