Kansas City Man Convicted in 2 Women’s Deaths a Decade Apart
HARRISONVILLE, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City man has been convicted of killing two women nearly a decade apart. On Thursday, a Cass County, Missouri, jury found Kylr Yust guilty of voluntary manslaughter in the death of 17-year-old Kara Kopetsky and second-degree murder in the death of 21-year-old Jessica Runions. Yust left a party with Runions before she disappeared in September 2016. Kopetsky had filed a protection order against Yust in April 2007, a month before she was last seen leaving Belton High School. The women’s remains were found near each other in a wooded area in 2017. Yust’s attorneys argued during the trial that investigators did not consider other suspects, and that no physical evidence linked Yust to the deaths.
Topeka Police Investigating Fatal Shooting of Juvenile
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Police are investigating the fatal shooting of a juvenile several blocks east of downtown Topeka. Police say the shooting was reported around 7:20 pm Thursday. Officers arrived to find a person suffering from gunshot wounds. The person was taken to an area hospital and pronounced dead. Police say the victim is a juvenile and that they are withholding the victim’s name. No arrests had been reported in the shooting by this (FRI) morning.
12-Year-Old Kansas City Child Fatally Shot in Leavenworth
LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — Police say a 12-year-old child from Kansas City was shot and killed at a Leavenworth pharmacy. Leavenworth Police Chief Pat Kitchens says officers responded to a several calls about a shooting at Kare pharmacy Wednesday evening but did not find any victims. About an hour later, Kansas City police reported that a family arrived at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City with a child who was shot. The child was pronounced dead at the hospital. Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Thompson said Thursday that 25-year-old Darvon Thomas was charged with first-degree felony murder in the case. A 17-year-old suspect was also charged with felony murder and discharge of a firearm into an occupied vehicle.
Panel of Scientists Warns Against Use of Bogus “Air Cleaner” Machines
LAWRENCE, Kan. (KNS) — Scientists want schools in Kansas to stay away from potentially harmful air cleaner machines and turn them off if they’re already in use. The electronic air cleaners go by a lot of names such as “bipolar ionizers,” “electronic air cleaners,” or a variety of other names. The group of scientists says vendors used unproven claims of ridding indoor air of COVID-19 to market the devices to schools. But researchers say they have found no evidence that the machines actually work. Marcel Harmon is a building scientist based in Lawrence who is warning schools not to rely on the machines. “Just don’t do it at this point,” Harmon says. “And if you have it already installed in your building, we would suggest that you consider turning it off.” Fourteen engineers and chemists signed an open letter warning that some brands of the “air cleaning” devices even discharge dangerous chemicals into the air such as ozone and formaldehyde.
Lawrence Lifts Pandemic Restrictions as More KU Students, Staff Get Vaccine
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The Lawrence area has lifted more coronavirus restrictions, with a growing number of University of Kansas employees and students getting vaccinated. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the Douglas County Commission voted Wednesday to eliminate the mass-gathering limit while keeping its mask mandate in place. The newly-approved health order also provides more flexibility about the occupancy rules for businesses and venues. Andrew Foster, the university’s emergency management coordinator, said Wednesday that 62.7% of KU’s employees and 17.7% of its students had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of Monday. Those figures include people who were vaccinated through the university and those who told the school they had been vaccinated elsewhere.
Tourist Town of Branson Repeals Mask Mandate Early
BRANSON, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri tourist town of Branson is ditching its mask mandate early after electing a new mayor who ran on a platform that called for doing away with it. Newly elected Mayor Larry Milton said that the “city heard your voices loud and clear” after the Board of Alderman voted 6-0 on Tuesday night to repeal the public masking ordinance effective Friday. The ordinance was first enacted July 31 after extensive discussion amid rising COVID-19 case counts. Last month, the Board of Aldermen voted 4-2 to repeal it, but delayed implementation until May 24 to allow Branson’s tourism industry an opportunity to vaccinate its front-line workers. But that wasn’t fast enough for Branson voters.
Kansas Senator Marshall Votes No on Advancing “Hate Crimes” Legislation
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Republican Senator Republican Roger Marshall is among a handful of conservative U.S. senators who opposed moving forward with a Democratic-sponsored measure for confronting hate crimes against Asian Americans. Marshall’s office said today (THUR) that an existing federal hate crimes law already prohibits intentionally injuring or trying to injure others based on their race, color, religion or national origin. The Senate voted 92-6 on Wednesday to have a debate on the proposed COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act. Republican Senator Josh Hawley, of Missouri, also voted against moving ahead with the debate. Hawley’s office did not immediately respond to an email and phone message seeking comment.
Overland Park Republican Considers Challenging Kansas Congresswoman Sharice Davids
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican state Representative Chris Croft is considering challenging Democratic U.S. Representative Sharice Davids in a Kansas City-area district. Croft, of Overland Park, is chairman of a Kansas House committee that will redraw the state’s congressional districts ahead of next year’s election. He met with the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee last month to discuss the race against Davids, who is seeking a second term. Kansas GOP leaders have said they hope to oust Davids by redrawing the 3rd District’s boundaries to make it more friendly to Republicans. Democrats say it would be a conflict of interest for Croft to be lead the redistricting committee while running for Congress.
Kansas COVID-19 Case Total Passes 305,000, Including 4,944 Deaths, Since Pandemic Began
TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR/AP) – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) reports that there have been 305,320 cases of COVID-19 in the state, including 4,944 deaths, since the start of the pandemic. Another update of case statistics is expected later today (FRI).
Vaccine Appointments Going Unfilled in Parts of Missouri
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — Coronavirus vaccine supply is starting to outpace demand in Missouri, even after the state expanded eligibility, raising worries among some health care providers. Early on, mass vaccination clinics in rural areas sometimes had excess doses, but demand had remained strong in more populous areas until recently. The slowdown is occurring even though the state deemed anyone old enough to get the shot eligible last week and most residents remain unvaccinated. State data shows that just 32.8% of residents have received at least one dose as of Wednesday.
Kansas Health Officials Warn of Unhealthy Air as Ranchers Burn Grassland
TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) — Air pollutants are at unhealthy levels in parts of Kansas, while ranchers burn grassland in the Flint Hills. The burning is spreading dangerously smoky air across southern Kansas and into Oklahoma. Kansas health officials have issued a warning against strenuous outdoor exercise. They advise people with lung or heart problems to remain indoors, drink plenty of water and run an air conditioner to filter the air. Unhealthy air could be a problem as far west as Liberal, in southwest Kansas, while the smoke keeps moving. Ranchers burn land each year to eradicate invasive plants and produce more nutrient-rich grass for cattle.
Ex-Police Chief in Central Kansas Convicted in Stalking Case
HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A jury has convicted a former central Kansas police chief of several felony counts brought against him in a domestic stalking case. The Hutchinson News reports that a Reno County jury found Brian Treaster guilty Wednesday of stalking and criminal threat, as well as misdemeanor counts of violation of a protection order and battery. Treaster was acquitted of two counts each of phone harassment and disorderly conduct and a second count of violating a protection order. The charges stemmed from incidents in 2019, when Treaster confronted his ex-wife at her workplace while he was still Bushton’s police chief, then later confronted and shoved the woman’s boyfriend and made threatening calls to the pair.
Missouri House Delays Lawmaker’s Resignation to Finish Review
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri House has refused to accept a lawmaker’s resignation to allow the Ethics Committee to fully investigate allegations that he physically and sexually abused his children years ago. The GOP-led House voted 153-0 Thursday to prevent Rep. Rick Roeber from resigning Friday as he had planned. Roeber’s adult children in a letter to House leadership last year wrote that he sexually and physically abused them when they were young. The House’s action means the Ethics Committee can continue investigating claims against him. It is expected to complete a final report on Roeber next week.
Missouri House Redirects Money Meant for Medicaid Expansion
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri House wants to redirect Medicaid expansion funding to services for people with disabilities, the elderly and other vulnerable groups. The GOP-led House on Thursday voted 143-1 to pass an alternative plan for how to spend the Medicaid expansion money. Missouri voters last year amended the state Constitution to extend access to the government health care program to thousands more low-income adults. Many Republican lawmakers don’t want to give more people access to Medicaid, so the House stripped money for expansion from next year’s budget. Democrats are condemning the move.
Legislation Would Give U.S. Vets of 1966 Spain Bomb Accident Benefits
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — New legislation in Congress would provide disability benefits for U.S. veterans exposed to radiation while responding to a 1966 hydrogen bomb accident in Spain. Many veterans who responded to the accident in Palomares, Spain, and later became ill have been denied benefits by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The bill is co-sponsored by Senator Richard Blumenthal and Rep. Jahana Hayes of Connecticut. Two U.S. planes collided and crashed near Palomares in 1966, killing seven crew members. Hydrogen bombs on one of the planes did not explode, but caused plutonium contamination. About 1,600 service members were sent to clean up the contamination.
Bankers Report Strong Growth in Rural Parts of Kansas, 9 Other States
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A new survey of bankers suggests strong economic growth continues in rural parts of 10 Western and Plains states even though business continues to lag behind the level it was at before the coronavirus pandemic began. The overall index for the region declined slightly from March’s 71.9 but remained at a strong level of 69. Any score above 50 suggests a growing economy. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss said improving grain prices, continued low interest rates and growing exports have all helped the economy in rural areas. Bankers from Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.
Missouri Lawmakers Move to Make Daylight Saving Time Permanent
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri House has advanced a bill that would make daylight saving time permanent. The GOP-led House gave the proposal initial approval in a voice vote Wednesday. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 15 states have adopted similar provisions. Federal law prevents states from moving to daylight saving time permanently, so the Missouri bill would only take effect if Congress changes federal law. Some Kansas lawmakers have floated the idea of making the permanent switch to daylight saving time as well, but so far, have not advanced any legislation.
Kansas City Approves Naming Street for Martin Luther King
KANSAS CITY, Mo (AP) — After years of debate, Kansas City, Missouri will have a street named for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The city’s parks and recreation board has approved a proposal to rename a 5-mile route along thoroughfares that run east to west after the civil rights icon. City officials and civil rights activists celebrated the decision and vowed that the move was just the first step in larger plans to honor King, and to help foster racial unity in the city. This week’s vote comes after a 2019 election in which voters chose to remove King’s name from another well-known boulevard in the city. The new plan drew little opposition.
Missouri Town Decides to Keep “Savages” Mascot, Ditch Logo
MISSION, Kan. (AP) — Leaders of a nearly all-white northwest Missouri school district have narrowly voted to keep the high school’s “Savages” nickname but will phase out the use of Native American imagery. The Maryville Daily Forum reports that the Savannah R-3 Board of Education’s 4-3 vote this week came after months of dueling petitions and heated debates. Activists, including those that originally petitioned the board last summer to change the mascot, hoped to have the name and image eradicated. But many residents wanted nothing to change, and one board member walked out of the meeting after failing to stop the removal of Native American imagery.
Here are the headlines for our area, as compiled by KPR staff members. Our weekday headlines are generally posted by 10am and updated throughout the day. Feel free to browse our ad-free news summary. And when you’re done, feel free to make a pledge to KPR. Thanks!