Topeka Police Arrest Man Accused of Killing 2-Year-Old Girl
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka police have arrested a man accused of killing his 2-year-old daughter. Her body was found by first responders called to the family home in January. Police say 45-year-old Jeffrey Exon was arrested Tuesday afternoon on suspicion of first-degree murder, aggravated endangerment of a child and failure to report the death of a child. Police and paramedics were called to the home on January 5 for reports of an unresponsive toddler and found 2-year-old Aurora Exon dead. Paramedics said it appeared the child had been dead for several days, and a medical examiner later determined her death to be a homicide.
Patrol: Teen Worker Killed on Shoulder of Kansas Highway
MANKATO, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say a teenage worker was killed as he loaded traffic-control equipment onto a trailer on the side of a north-central Kansas highway. The Kansas Highway Patrol says the accident happened around 10:30 am Tuesday along U.S. Highway 36 in Jewell County. Investigators say 18-year-old Gabriel Rupp, of Hays, was on the north shoulder of the highway loading traffic control equipment when he was hit by a westbound semitrailer. The semi ended up in the north ditch of the highway. KSNW TV reports that Rupp was declared dead at the scene. Investigators say the 55-year-old driver of the semi was not injured.
No Joke: Subfreezing Temperatures Forecast in Parts Nation’s Midsection, Including Kansas
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — It’s no April Fool’s joke: Forecasters say frigid temperatures are in store for parts of the nation’s midsection. The National Weather Service posted freeze warnings extending from southwestern Kansas to northern West Virginia. It includes most of Kentucky. The weather service said temperatures will dip below freezing on Thursday morning and to around 20 degrees on Friday morning in some areas. Residents were advised to cover tender vegetation or bring them indoors. In parts of West Virginia’s highest elevations, several inches of heavy, wet snow are possible Wednesday night.
GOP Fights Kansas Mask Policy as Coronavirus Variant Spreads
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republicans in the GOP-controlled Kansas House are formally registering their opposition to Democratic Governor Laura Kelly’s plan for encouraging counties to keep mask mandates in place. They’re doing it as a potentially more infectious strain of coronavirus becomes more widespread in the state. The House gave first-round approval Tuesday a resolution telling legislative leaders to use their power under a new law to revoke any order from Kelly for a statewide mask policy. Kelly has said she will issue such an order Thursday, though counties will be able to opt out. Meanwhile, Shawnee County confirmed its first three cases of a coronavirus variant first identified in the United Kingdom.
Wisconsin Supreme Court Strikes Down Governor’s Mask Mandate
MADISON, Wis. (AP/KPR) — The Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Governor Tony Evers’ statewide mask mandate, ruling that the Democratic governor exceeded his authority by unilaterally extending the mandate for months through multiple emergency orders. The 4-3 ruling today (WED) by the conservative-controlled court is the latest legal blow to attempts by Evers to control the coronavirus. It comes after Republicans in the Legislature voted to repeal the mask mandate, only to see Evers quickly re-issue it. The court ruled that any public health emergency issued by Evers is valid for just 60 days and can’t be extended without approval of the Legislature. Nearly 60 organizations, including groups representing hospitals, doctors and nurses, had opposed striking down the mandate. Lawmakers in Kansas and other states are watching court cases like the one in Wisconsin as legal and political battles continue over statewide mask mandates.
Nearly 302,000 COVID-19 Cases and 4,902 Deaths Recorded in Kansas Since Pandemic Began
TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR/AP) – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) reports that there have been 301,862 cases of COVID-19 in the state, including 4,902 deaths, since the start of the pandemic. Another update will be released later today (WED).
Nearly 25% of Missourians Have at Least 1 Vaccination Shot
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri health officials say nearly 25% of the state’s residents have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot. The health department’s COVID-19 dashboard reported Tuesday that 1.5 million Missourians have begun the vaccination process, and 902,026 are fully vaccinated. One of the highest vaccination rates is in Joplin, where officials say more than 31% of the city’s 51,000 received at least one shot. Health department director Ryan Talken credits the city’s high rate to having two large hospitals, combined with health care groups that work well together to share available vaccines. As of Tuesday, the state has confirmed 488,968 cases of COVID-19, and 8,498 deaths.
Kansas City Plans Memorial to Honor Those Who Died from COVID-19
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WDAF) — An upcoming tribute will honor everyone from Kansas City, Mo., who died during the COVID-19 pandemic. WDAF TV reports that Kansas City is planning to hold the KC COVID-19 Memorial Tribute at the National WWI Museum and Memorial on April 10. The event will take place from 7:30-9:30 pm. The parks department plans to place candles along the Museum and Memorial’s Mall. Each candle will represent one person from Kansas City who lost their battle with COVID-19. The drive-thru event will be open to the public. Visitors can travel past the candles while listening to a program broadcast over the radio on FM 100.5. It will include messages from Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, U.S. Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver II, and Bert Malone, with the Missouri Public Health Association. The Kansas City Women’s Chorus will also be featured in the program. The Downtown Marriott Hotel will also show a candle on the side of its building. “This memorial will provide a dedicated space for our community to grieve and remember those we’ve lost in this difficult year,” Lucas said. “This pandemic has devastated our community in many ways, but the mothers, fathers, siblings, partners, and friends who are no longer with us today due to this virus have left the deepest wound. I grieve with members of our community who have been impacted so directly by COVID-19, and I keep them in my prayers.” So far, 540 people from Kansas City, Mo., have lost their fights with COVID-19.
Kansas GOP Legislative Leader Retains Pay, Influence Despite Felony Charge
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — One of the Kansas Legislature’s most powerful lawmakers is eligible to be paid nearly $500 every two weeks he remains in leadership while he fights charges of driving under the influence and trying to elude law enforcement. The Kansas City Star reports that the payments can continue even though Kansas Senate Majority Leader Gene Suellentrop turned over the bulk of his duties before he was charged Friday in the March 16 incident in Topeka. But he has given no indication he plans to resign or give up his prestigious leadership position, meaning he continues to hold powers that can’t be delegated and remains influential.
GOP Advances Smaller Plan for Cutting Kansas Income Taxes
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Some Republicans have downsized their ambitions for cutting Kansas income taxes and advanced a narrower proposal in the GOP-controlled Legislature. They’re hoping to overcome Democratic Governor Laura Kelly’s resistance to reducing revenues. The House voted Tuesday for a bill that would save taxpayers $284 million over three years. Top GOP legislators want to provide relief to businesses and individuals whose state income taxes have risen because of changes in federal income tax laws in 2017. The measure also includes a modest increase in the standard deduction for all individual filers. The Senate last month passed a bill worth $1.3 billion over three years.
Troubled Kansas Foster Care Agency Agrees to Repay $9.4 Million
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A troubled Kansas foster care management provider has reached an agreement with the state to repay $9.4 million in unspent grant funds. The deal that the Kansas Department for Children and Families announced it had reached Tuesday with St. Francis Ministries comes on the heels of earlier controversies. In January, Nebraska agreed to pay millions more to St. Francis after it significantly underbid the company that used to provide child welfare services in the Omaha area. And Kansas officials announced in December that St. Francis employees had falsified documents to show visits with families that never took place. DCF spokesman Mike Deines said the grant repayment agreement is unrelated to the falsified document claims. An audit is pending.
Suburban Kansas City Man Charged in March 6 Fatal Crash
LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. (AP) — Authorities have charged a suburban Kansas City man with driving drunk at the time of a crash earlier this month that killed another man. The Kansas City Star reports that 34-year-old Joseph Cook, of Lee’s Summit, is charged with driving while intoxicated resulting in a death. Investigators say that late the night of March 6, Cook was driving a pickup truck the wrong way on U.S. Highway 50 when he collided head-on with another pickup, killing its driver, Kevin Daniels. Cook was injured and taken to an area hospital, where police say blood tests showed his blood alcohol level was 0.261 — more than three times the legal limit to drive.
Woman Charged in Wichita Hit-and-Run and Shooting
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 31-year-old Wichita woman is charged with first-degree murder in the death of a man who was run over and then shot. Charity Blackmon made her first court appearance on Tuesday. She’s charged in the death of 54-year-old Merrill Rabus, who died on Friday while riding his bicycle. Police say Blackmon hit Rabus with her vehicle and then got out of her car and shot him. She left the scene but was arrested after witnesses followed her. Police said Blackmon and Rabus did not know each other. She is also charged with being a felon in possession of a gun. Bond was set at $250,000.
State Board Wants Sedgwick County EMS Director Investigated
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A state board wants the head of the Sedgwick County Emergency Medical Services to be investigated over the handling of a suicide case in Wichita in 2019. The Kansas Board of Emergency Medical Services also is proposing that seven Wichita-area emergency responders be disciplined in the case. The Wichita Eagle reports that records show the man who had shot himself was not taken to a hospital five minutes from where he lived, even though he had a pulse and labored breathing. The board said EMS Medical Director Dr. John Gallagher decided the man could not be saved. After several hours, the man was taken to a hospice, where he died.
Another Arrest Made in Fatal New Years Shootings in Wichita
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police in Wichita have announced another arrest in the New Year’s Day fatal shooting of a man that marked the city’s first homicide of 2021. KAKE TV reports that 21-year-old Isabel Martin was arrested Monday on suspicion of first-degree murder and recruiting gang membership in the death of 22-year-old Gabriel Campos-Torres. Police say Martin is the sister of 19-year-old Noah Martin of Wichita, who was arrested shortly after Campos-Torres’s body was found on a Wichita sidewalk. Noah Martin was originally arrested on suspicion of second-degree murder and a weapons count. He was arrested again last week on suspicion of two counts of failure to comply and remains jailed on bonds totaling $400,000. Isabel Martin is being held without bond.
Teenager Arrested in Garden City Mother’s Shooting Death
GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — Garden City police say a 15-year-old is in custody in the shooting death of his mother. Police say in a news release that the teenager reported Monday afternoon that he had shot his mother inside their home. When officers arrived at the home, they found 34-year-old Mallory Hernandez suffering from several gunshot wounds. She died later at a Garden City hospital. The teenager was at the home and surrendered to police. He is being held at the Southwest Kansas Regional Detention Center on suspicion of first-degree murder. Police did not release further details.
Missouri’s Governor Issues 17 More Pardons, 1 Commutation
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Governor Mike Parson has issued 17 more pardons and commuted the sentence of one person. The governor’s office announced the move Tuesday but said it would provide details after the families of those involved are notified. The announcement is part of Parson’s effort to reduce a backlog of thousands of clemency requests he inherited when he became governor in 2018. The governor has previously issued other pardons and commutations in February and December. The governor’s office says he has reduced pending clemency requests to 3,250 from nearly 3,700 in December.
DNA Cold Case: Kansas Ex-Con Charged in Unsolved 1979 Murder of Colorado Woman
GREELEY, Colo. (KPR) — A Kansas man with a lengthy rap sheet has been charged with murder in the 41-year-old slaying of a Colorado college worker who was found sexually assaulted and strangled in her car. KOKI TV reports that 64-year-old James Herman Dye, of Wichita, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the November 26, 1979, death of Evelyn Kay Day. He was arrested March 22 and booked into the Sedgwick County Jail, where he remains awaiting extradition to Colorado. Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke explained that the two counts of murder represent differing theories of Day’s killing. The first, murder after deliberation, alleges that he committed the crime with the intent to kill Day. The second, felony murder, alleges that he caused Day’s death in the commission of another felony, in this case, a sexual assault. Prior to Dye’s arrest, Day’s killing was the second-oldest unsolved cold case homicide in Weld County. The oldest, according to Weld County records, is the June 23, 1975 disappearance and slaying of Margorie Sue “Margie” Fithian, who was last seen alive with her 18-month-old son at a Denver bus station. The 23-year-old Fithian, of Greeley, was shot twice in the face on the side of a dirt road a few miles north of Roggen, about 60 miles from Denver in rural Weld County. She died en route to a hospital. Her son, who was unharmed, was found on the side of the road with his mother, holding her hand, according to the Weld County Sheriff’s Office website. Like Day, Fithian worked at Aims Community College in Greeley.
Authorities say Dye had a criminal history in both Colorado and Kansas. In October 1977, two years before Day was killed, he was arrested in Weld County and charged with sexual assault. He was charged with the sexual assault of a child in February 1981 and with attempted sexual assault in May of that same year. Records of any prison time he served were not immediately available. Law enforcement officials found that Dye’s DNA profile matched that of the semen found inside Day during her autopsy. His profile also linked him to genetic material found on the sleeve of Day’s coat, as well as fingernail scrapings taken from Day’s right hand.
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