Public Safety

Couple faces charges in Cedar Rapids murder with pellet gun that was staged to look like a suicide

Joshua Conklin
Joshua Conklin
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Two people have been charged in connection with a shooting death 18 months ago that police say was staged to look like a suicide but was found to be a homicide.

Joshua K. Conklin, 28, faces charges of second-degree murder and obstruction of prosecution in connection with the June 21, 2019, shooting death of Randal Campbell, 44, in southwest Cedar Rapids.

Conklin also is accused of knowingly altering or disguising physical evidence that would have been admissible at trial and/or furnishing false information.

Felisha Campbell, 26 — Conklin’s girlfriend and Campbell’s niece — faces charges of conspiracy to commit a forcible felony and accessory after the fact.

According to Cedar Rapids police, officers were dispatched just after 9 p.m. June 21, 2019, to 1834 Hamilton St. for a reported suicide.

They found Randal Campbell dead, with an air rifle positioned on his lap and torso.

An autopsy, conducted by the Iowa Office of the State Medical Examiner, determined Campbell was fatally shot with the pellet gun and that a pellet had entered Campbell’s brain through his right eye.

The medical examiner ruled the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the victim’s head.

Police said in a Friday evening news release that investigators determined the crime scene had been staged to make it appear Campbell’s death was a suicide.

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They determined Conklin had been living in the detached garage at 1834 Hamilton St. SW and had had a recent conflict with Randal Campbell’s mother, the owner of the residence.

Police said they learned Conklin had been in possession of an air rifle. Additionally, video surveillance showed Conklin and his girlfriend near the detached garage and leaving after Campbell had been shot.

Police accuse Conklin of shooting Campbell at close range with the air rifle and then staging the scene to look like a suicide. Police said Felisha Campbell was present at the shooting and suggested staging the scene to look like a suicide.

Felisha Campbell, police said, initially lied to investigators about her and Conklin’s involvement but eventually told investigators Conklin had shot her uncle with the air rifle and then returned to the home to leave the air rifle there and stage the crime scene.

Police said Conklin was an inmate at the Fort Dodge Correctional Facility on unrelated charges when the police submitted a warrant to the Linn County Attorney’s Office on July 27, 2020. A hold was placed on Conklin, and he was transferred to the Linn County Jail on Friday to face prosecution.

Felisha Campbell was arrested Dec. 21 following a police pursuit when she attempted to elude officers in a stolen vehicle.

Police said officers attempted to initiate a traffic stop at 1:24 a.m. near Third Avenue and Park Court SE, but the driver refused to stop. Officers used stop sticks to disable the vehicle and took Felisha Campbell into custody near the Menards parking lot off Highway 100 in Marion.

Other charges filed against her in connection with the pursuit include second-degree theft, driving while barred, felony eluding, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a controlled substance-methamphetamine, possession of a controlled substance-marijuana, carrying weapons, speeding and disobedience to a traffic control device.

Comments: (319) 398-8238; kat.russell@thegazette.com

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