When Isaiah Sweet was picked up early Sunday at a convenience store in Iowa City, the Manchester teenager told officers they wouldn’t be able to reach his grandparents – his legal guardians.
Sweet, 17, who now faces two counts of first-degree murder in connection with his grandparents’ death over the weekend in Manchester, was picked up by Iowa City police about 3 a.m. Sunday on suspicion of driving with a suspended license. Because he’s a juvenile and wasn’t booked into the Johnson County Jail, officers were trying to reach his guardians to pick him up.
Iowa City police Chief Sam Hargadine said Sweet told officers that his grandparents were en route to Rochester, Minn., inferring they were headed north toward the Mayo Clinic.
“It was his way to explain why we couldn’t get a hold of the grandparents, so we located his mother,” Hargadine said.
Sweet’s mother agreed to let the police release her son to a female counselor out of Cedar Rapids, according to Larry Hedlund, special agent in charge with the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation.
That counselor, who Hedlund wouldn’t identify, works for a Cedar Rapids organization and knows Sweet from previous contacts. Hedlund said the counselor, who picked up Sweet from the Iowa City Police Department about 8 a.m., dropped him off later Sunday at the Cambridge Townhomes and Apartments, 2113 North Towne Court NE.
Sweet had associates there, Hedlund said, and investigators are now looking into what time the counselor dropped him off at the apartments and what they did between the time he was picked up and dropped off.
Hendlund said investigators are interviewing the counselor and the people Sweet was going to see in the Cambridge Apartments. He said authorities could in the future decide to file charges against persons accused of aiding and abetting Sweet’s efforts to elude police.
But, he said, there are no plans to file additional charges at this time.
Sweet, accused of killing his grandparents, Janet Sweet, 62, and Richard Sweet, 55, of Manchester, at their home over the weekend, was never actually booked into the Johnson County Jail because he’s a juvenile.
Instead, he was held in a back room at the Iowa City Police Department until officers could find an adult to pick him up, according to Chief Hargadine.
“He was not locked down or anything,” he said.
Sweet was allowed to keep his cell phone during that time, and his Twitter feed shows he used it to send several Tweets including, “Cant wait to get outa the cop shop.”
Hargadine said Sweet was allowed to keep his phone because his charge was so minor and he was only being held until an adult could come get him.
“The more property you take away, the more you have to sign for later,” he said.
Officers typically don’t detain people at the police department, Hargadine said.
“If this were an adult, we would go straight to the Johnson County Jail,” he said. “But there are a lot more rules that kick in when you’ve got a juvenile detained.”
Had Sweet lived in the Johnson County area, Hargadine said, officers would just have driven him home.
Hargadine said the Iowa City police didn’t violate any of its own policies by releasing Sweet with his mother’s consent, even though she wasn’t legally responsible for him. The police release juveniles, especially those being held on minor charges, to a parent or guardian, Hargadine said.
“We are not going to keep him here,” Hargadine said.