Meskwaki murder case moves to federal court

A first-degree murder charge was filed on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Cedar Rapids against Jonathan C. Youngbear, 20, in the stabbing death of Severn D. Jefferson, 17, on the Meskwaki Settlement southwest of Tama.

Youngbear faced a first-degree murder charge in Tama County filed by Meskwaki Nation Tribal Police and has been in Tama County custody since Feb. 24.

Court documents say the location of the home, 1695 304th St., is considered Indian Country and subject to federal jurisdiction. The federal murder charge was filed by FBI Special Agent Shauntay Lett.

In the filing it is alleged a 911 call at 4:52 p.m. on Feb. 24 sent Meskwaki Nation Tribal Police, Tama County Sheriff’s officers and Toledo Police to the address in response to the emergency call. Officers found Jefferson unresponsive in the doorway of the southwest bedroom of the residence. A Tama County Medical Examiner investigator pronounced Jefferson dead at the scene. A witness told officers Youngbear stabbed Jefferson several times.

The federal court filing says Youngbear admitted under questioning he killed Jefferson.

The case of Gordon Lasley Jr., 25, who was charged originally in Tama County in the Feb. 5 slayings of his mother and father on the settlement, was also filed in U.S. District Court by the FBI.

He is in federal custody. Youngbear remained in the Tama County Jail in Toledo on Wednesday morning according to a jail spokesperson.