Slain Cedar Rapids mom of 3 donates organs

Accused killer ordered held on $1 million cash bail

CEDAR RAPIDS — Heidi Stephens was a loving person who would have done anything to assist someone in need, her brother said Saturday.

It’s fitting, then, that her final act will be to help people.

Stephens, 34, of Cedar Rapids, was shot Monday evening. By Wednesday morning, she was declared brain dead. However, her family was keeping her on life support so her organs could be donated to others.

“She was a very giving person and I know that’s what she’d want,” said her brother, Trent Hoppe of Waterloo. “If we can prolong someone else’s life, then please, so be it.”

The man police said shot Stephens, Zackary D. Ildefonso, 24, now sits in the Linn County Jail on a first-degree murder charge. He was arrested Friday evening and also faces charges of going armed with intent, intimidation with a weapon causing injury, carrying weapons, felon in possession of a firearm and trafficking stolen weapons for the Nov. 20 shooting.

He also faces second-degree burglary and possession of stolen property charges in a separate case, police said.

Ildefonso’s bail was set at $1 million cash at an initial court appearance Saturday morning.

Police were called at 6:21 p.m. Monday to the 1500 block of Second Avenue SE for a report of shots fired. There, they found Stephens in the front yard of a residence, suffering from a gunshot wound. First responders began emergency treatment and transported her to UnityPoint-St. Luke’s Hospital.

Authorities said Stephens was declared brain dead at 11:10 a.m. Wednesday and would remain on life support while her organs were harvested.

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Police have not released other details on the shooting, and said the circumstances that led to it are part of the ongoing investigation.

Hoppe said Stephens lived most of her life in Cedar Rapids. She had three children and spent “very little time indoors.”

“We loved the water,” he said. “We loved to go to beaches. We loved tubing and boating and Jet Skiing. We just loved so many things.”

Stephens knew Ildefonso, but wasn’t friends with him, Hoppe said.

According to online court records, Ildefonso was arrested on a third-degree burglary charge in Benton County in October 2013 and served time in prison. He was released in July 2017.

Hoppe said a benefit and celebration of life for Stephens is set for all day Sunday at Cooter’s bar, 729 First Ave. SW. Live music will begin about 4 p.m., he said.

Hoppe said funeral services have not been scheduled, but should take place this week.

First-degree murder is a Class A felony punishable by life in prison.

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