Rod Weikert of West Des Moines saw his daughter Emily off at the airport Tuesday after she visited for Christmas from her home in Colorado. Two days later she was shot dead.
“At the airport I shed a tear and gave her a hug, and that’s the last I ever saw her,” Weikert told the Denver Post. “It’s not supposed to happen like this.”
Emily Weikert, 25, who graduated from Valley High School and Iowa State University, was discovered dead Thursday morning in the parking garage of the apartment building where she lived in Greenwood Village, a suburb south of Denver.
A former co-worker was found dead of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound in his apartment later Thursday after a standoff with law enforcement. Police say Robert Lewis, 51, probably killed Weikert. Lewis was fired from CoBank, an agribusiness lender in Greenwood Village, two weeks ago for harassment that involved Weikert.
Weikert’s father said he had never heard of Lewis.
“We didn’t know anything about this idiot,” Rod Weikert said. “We thought we had her in a good place.”
Weikert graduated from Valley High School, where she excelled in academics, in 2005. She started playing the violin in middle school and was in the orchestra at Valley and at Iowa State.
She majored in finance at ISU and graduated in 2009 as the top College of Business student from her class. President Gregory Geoffroy selected her as a student marshal for the commencement ceremony, said Rick Dark, chairman of ISU’s accounting and finance departments.
Dark got to know Weikert when he advised the ISU finance club.
“I always knew she was an exceptionally good student, and she was just exceptional all around,” he said. “Having been at Iowa State for a number of years, I’ve been blessed to know a lot of exceptionally good young people, and she was one of the special ones.”
Weikert was the first female member and organizer of the university’s investment club, which formed in 2008, Dark said. “She had the personality and the intelligence to do basically anything that she wanted to do,” he said.
Labh Hira, a former dean of the business college, said Weikert worked in his office when she was a student.
She was the type of person you could give any assignment to and expect quality work, Hira said. He remembered her talking to him a lot about her family.
“I am totally in a state of shock,” Hira said Friday. “This was one of those individuals who had the complete package and we expected great things from her.”
Police said they believe Weikert was headed to CoBank, where she was a credit analyst, when Lewis killed her. Her body was found between two cars and papers and clothes were scattered nearby.
Dispatchers received two 911 calls Thursday — a brief one that may have been from Weikert, and a second from a neighbor who heard a gunshot and a scream, police said.
Weikert’s death is the second homicide in Greenwood Village since 2006, said police Cmdr. Joe Harvey.
The city has around 16,000 residents.
Harvey said police were testing firearms found in Lewis’ apartment to see whether one was used in Weikert’s slaying.
Other evidence was found linking Lewis to the crime, he said, but he declined to offer specifics.
Lewis’ criminal history was not extensive but included a 1996 arrest on a felony trespassing charge.
At her job in Colorado, Weikert tried to fit in, even taking up golf so she could play with clients. She joined Toastmasters International to improve at public speaking.
On her last visit to Iowa, Weikert brought her boyfriend, Nick Willette, to meet her family.
“The best part of your day was when you were hanging out with Emily,” Willette told KUSA-TV in Denver. “I don’t feel angry. I’m more in shock.”
Willette said that Weikert missed her family while living in Colorado.
Her father said he learned of his daughter’s death when a police officer knocked on his door Thursday.
“She had her whole life in front of her,” he said. “We’re going to miss her a lot.”
This story includes information from Denver Post reporter Kirk Mitchell and from KUSA-TV.