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Headlines for Tuesday, July 23, 2019


KBI Opens 74 Clergy Abuse Investigations in 33 Kansas Counties

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says agents have opened 74 investigations in 33 counties into alleged sexual abuse by members of the Catholic clergy.  The KBI said it initiated the investigations after it received 119 reports from people who said they were victims of abuse. The agency announced in February that it had appointed a task force of six agents to begin reviewing allegations of abuse by Catholic clergy.  The KBI's brief update Tuesday did not provide details about the investigations, and KBI spokeswoman Melissa Underwood said no arrests have been made yet.  The Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas, and the Diocese of Salina reported earlier this year that they had substantiated credible allegations of abuse against 50 clergy dating back as far as 1907.  The KBI's brief update, released today (TUE), did not provide details about the investigations, and KBI spokeswoman Melissa Underwood said no arrests have been made yet.  

The Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas, and the Diocese of Salina reported earlier this year that they had substantiated credible allegations of abuse against 50 clergy dating back as far as 1907.  The Dodge City Diocese previously published the names of four priests against whom the Diocesan Review Board had received complaints that were substantiated.  Those priests were John Haberthier, Donald Straub, Orestes Huerta, and Mario Islas. None of these priests were engaged in ministry at the time the complaints were received by the Diocesan Review Board.  


KDHE Medicaid Employees to Work Out of Kansas DCF Offices

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas health department employees who will handle complicated applications for Medicaid health coverage will work out of state Department for Children and Families offices.  The agencies announced a partnership Monday to have Kansas Department of Health and Environment workers located in 17 DCF offices across the state. Officials said the arrangements will make both agencies more efficient and expand their reach.  KDHE employees are moving into DCF offices in Wichita and Hays this week and into another 15 DCF offices by January.  The state budget approved by legislators for the fiscal year beginning July 1 allows KDHE to hire 313 additional workers to handle Medicaid applications for the elderly and people with disabilities, starting in January. The move was a response to issues with a private contractor's processing of applications.


Kansas Officials Suggest Alternatives to Deal with Pond Scum

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas health and environment officials are recommending alternative ways for municipal water operators to treat toxic blue-green algal blooms that have troubled state lakes for nearly 10 years.  The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says people and animals that come into contact with cyanobacteria algae might suffer diarrhea, headaches and other symptoms.  The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has detected traces of toxins related to the blooms in at least five water treatment plants.  KMUW Radio reports that the department has suggested adding activated carbon to the water treatment process. The carbon causes algae to fall to the bottom of ponds, allowing clean water to pass through.  Department officials say they also offer a program to subsidize water quality tests searching for toxins caused by cyanobacteria.


Kansas City Man's Death in House Explosion Ruled a Homicide

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas city police say the death of a gay bar owner in a house explosion is being investigated as a homicide.  The Kansas City Star reports the Jackson County Medical Examiner ruled the death of Melvin "Lee" Mecker a homicide on July 8. No suspects are in custody.  Mecker died when his house exploded and burned down on April 10.  Police have not said how Mecker was killed, or whether he died before or during the blaze.  Sgt. Jacob Becchina, a police spokesman, declined to comment further on the case.  Mecker's business, Buddies bar, closed after his death. He had been manager and owner of the bar for about two decades.


Man Pleads Guilty in Girlfriend's Beating Death in Topeka

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A man who was angry about his girlfriend's methamphetamine use has pleaded guilty to beating her to death in a Topeka apartment.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that 35-year-old Luke Anthony Wabaunsee pleaded guilty Monday to second-degree murder in the October 2018 killing of 42-year-old Michelle Stadler. He initially was charged with premeditated first-degree murder.  A detective testified at the preliminary hearing that Wabaunsee's DNA was found on the handle of a bloody glass mug recovered from Stadler's apartment.  Her neighbor, Shawn Cunningham, testified that Wabaunsee wanted her to quit using meth. Another neighbor, Marcia Paden, said she heard a man's voice say he "wasn't going to take it anymore."  He sentencing is scheduled for October 3. He faces 12 to 54 years in prison.


Pharmacist Convicted in Opioid Prescription Conspiracy

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A jury has convicted a Wichita-area pharmacist of illegally filling thousands of prescriptions for opioids to patients of a doctor who is serving a life sentence in the scheme. Federal prosecutors say 46-year-old Ebube Otuonye, of Bel Aire, was convicted Tuesday of two conspiracy counts and two counts of health care fraud. U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said Otuonye filled the prescriptions at Neighborhood Pharmacy in Wichita for patients of Dr. Steven Henson, who was convicted in October of unlawful distribution of prescription drugs. He was sentenced to life in prison in March after one of his patients died from an overdose. McAllister said Otuony filled prescriptions for more than 21,600 tablets of oxycodone, more than 48,600 tablets of methadone, more than 18,000 tablets of hydromorphone and more than 7,800 tablets of alprazolam.


Man's Body Pulled from Missouri River Near Atchison

ATCHISON, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are trying to identify a man whose body was pulled from the Missouri River in northeast Kansas.  The St. Joseph News-Press reports that the body was recovered Sunday morning near Atchison after a jogger spotted it floating in the water. Police Chief Mike Wilson says the body had been in the water for more than a day, although he couldn't be more specific. A pathologist is trying to determine the cause and circumstances of the man's death.  Wilson says he anticipates that more information will be released soon about tattoos and other descriptors in an effort to identify the man. Authorities also are communicating with upstream agencies.


Kansas City Police: Man Shot During Narcotics Investigation

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police say an officer shot a man during a narcotics investigation in downtown Kansas City.  Spokesman Jacob Becchina said in statement the shooting occurred Monday afternoon when officers were trying to arrest a man who had sold undercover officers drugs several times.  Becchina says the man tried to drive toward officers but his vehicle became disabled. He reportedly was armed when he got out of the vehicle but it wasn't immediately clear what he was carrying.  One officer shot the subject. He was taken to a hospital, where he was in critical but stable condition.  No other information was immediately available.


Man Shot by Kansas City Police Charged with Assault

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A 35-year-old Kansas City man who was shot by police has been charged with assault.  Robert Luckinbill was charged Saturday with two counts each of second-degree assault and armed criminal action.  Luckinbill wsa shot Friday in northern Kansas City after he allegedly waved a knife at officers responding to a report of a stabbing.  The Kansas City Star reports Capt. Tim Hernandez said the suspect ignored repeated orders to drop the knife and was shot with a Taser three times.  Hernandez says at least one officer shot Luckinbill after he brandished the knife.  No officers were injured.  Luckinbill did not have an attorney listed in public court records to comment for him. Court records indicate he is homeless.


Police: Restaurant Owner Killed in Wichita Likely Targeted

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Police say a Wichita restaurant owner who was shot and killed over the weekend probably was targeted.  Chuck Giles, owner of the Neighbors Bar and Grill, was found dead Friday night outside of his home.  He had been shot several times.  The suspect or suspects have not been arrested.  Police Captain Brent Allred said Monday investigators believe Giles was targeted for robbery.  The Wichita Eagle reports police believe one or more people approached Giles after he pulled into his driveway and fired at him. It is not known of Giles was followed home from the restaurant.  Money was stolen but Allred refused to say whether any other property was missing.  Gile's death is Wichita's 19th homicide of the year.


1 Juvenile Slain, 2 Wounded in Kansas City, Kansas, Shooting

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities are investigating a shooting that left one juvenile dead and two others wounded in Kansas City, Kansas.  Police Officer Jonathon Westbrook says two of the victims were found at the scene of the shooting early Sunday, including the one who died. The Kansas City Star reports that the third victim was dropped off at a hospital.  The injuries of the two surviving victims aren't believed to be life-threatening.


Kansas City Suburb Accepts School Supplies for Parking Fines

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas City suburb is allowing people to pay their parking fines with school supplies. KMBC-TV reports that the city of Olathe, Kansas, is offering the option through Aug. 16. Items that are being sought include No. 2 pencils, 1 and 3-inch three-ring binders and single-subject spiral notebooks. People who want to take advantage of the offer can bring in the supplies and a receipt. City officials say the offer isn't valid for commercial parking violations and only up to $50 in school supplies can be donated per person.


Defense Argues That Boy Was Legally Justified in Killing Mom

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An attorney argues that a boy who was 14 when he shot and killed his drunken mom at a mansion near Wichita was legally defending himself and his then 12-year-old brother.  The Wichita Eagle reports that the defense is seeking the dismissal of a voluntary manslaughter change in the June 2018 shooting death of 41-year-old Lisa Trimmell. Her sons were the only people present at the time of the shooting, which occurred about a month after her husband filed for divorce.  Attorney Dan Monnat says the older boy "acted bravely and legally in defending himself and his younger brother ... from her attack."  The autopsy found Trimmell had "acute and chronic alcoholism" and scarring of the liver. Her blood-alcohol level was more than double the legal limit for driving.


Wichita Man Sentenced to "Hard 50" in Girlfriend's Death

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 26-year-old Wichita man has been sentenced in the stabbing death of his girlfriend after a judge denied his motion to withdraw an earlier guilty plea.  Dylan Barber was sentenced Monday to life in prison with no chance of parole for 50 years for the June 2018 death of 22-year-old MacKenzie Payne, an Emporia native.  The Emporia Gazette reports Barber pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in February as part of plea deal but filed a motion in April to withdraw the plea.  Sedgwick County District Court Judge Jeffrey Goering on Monday denied that motion before sentencing Barber.  Police say officers went to a Wichita apartment after Barber called to say he had harmed his girlfriend. Payne was pronounced dead at the scene after suffering several stab wounds.


Man Hurt After Big Rig Backs up on I-35 Wins $2 Million in Lawsuit

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — Jurors have awarded more than $2 million to a Missouri man who was injured when a driver threw a tractor-trailer in reverse on Interstate 35 in Kansas.  The Kansas City Star reports that Michael Whitt, of the Kansas City suburb of Riverside, Missouri, was headed to his office in nearby Lenexa, Kansas, during a July 2015 thunderstorm when he saw the rig's taillights. Whitt was hit despite stopping. He said his injuries forced him to close his clinical social work business.  Newly released court documents show that jurors found last month that truck driver, David Caton, of Boonville, Indiana, and the company he worked for, G.D.S. Express Inc. of Chicago, were at fault. They argued that the storm severely affected visibility, causing drivers to slow and stop on the highway.


2 Officers Hurt in Hit-and-Run Crash in Kansas City, Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say two police officers have been hurt in a hit-and-run crash in Kansas City, Kansas.  The Kansas City Star reports that the wreck happened shortly before 11 p.m. Saturday near the Kansas Speedway. Police say the driver of a truck struck the officers' police cruiser as they sat inside completing reports from a previous crash. The driver didn't stop.  Police described the officers' injuries as minor.


Fort Riley Holds Full-Scale Emergency Exercise Wednesday

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (KPR) — Fort Riley officials say a full-scale exercise is scheduled for Wednesday (July 24) at the sprawling army base.  During the day, residents, employees and community members should be aware there may be an increase in emergency response vehicle activity and loudspeaker announcements.  Additionally, certain roads on the army base may be temporarily closed and traffic could be rerouted due to exercise activity. Drivers are asked to be patient and allow extra time when traveling on post.  The exercise is a way to test and improve installation emergency preparedness. The annual exercise involves Fort Riley soldiers, civilian personnel and community partners and helps test, synchronize and evaluate emergency response processes and procedures.


Garden City Zoo Announces Deaths of 2 Red Panda Cubs

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (AP) — A zoo in Garden City says two of four red panda cubs born last week have died.  Officials with the Lee Richardson Zoo in Garden City say one of the male cubs died of injuries "of an unknown origin" shortly after he was born. Another female cub died while being cared for by her mother.  The two cubs were among quadruplets born last Wednesday to Ember, a 9-year-old red panda.  The zoo said only 1% of red panda litters are quadruplets.  Ember and the cubs are expected to be on public display in late September or early October. Until then, footage of mom and cubs will be available on the zoo's social media accounts.


Kansas Adds Electric Car Charging at Turnpike Service Areas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Electric charging stations have been introduced at the Topeka, Lawrence and Towanda services areas on the Kansas Turnpike.  The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly announced the charging station additions Wednesday, calling them "a game changer" for electric vehicle drivers. The Topeka Service Area, similar to the ones in Lawrence and Towanda, has three charging stations.  The charging station additions came as a result of an alliance between the Kansas Turnpike Authority, Westar Energy and Kansas City Power and Light.  Turnpike officials say the charging stations will help to eradicate "range anxiety," or the concern an electric car battery will run out of power before reaching a destination.  Westar Energy officials say manufacturers expect to spend around $500 billion in the next eight years on electric car development.


Kansas YouTuber Adds Donation to Speeding Ticket

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A YouTuber from Kansas who makes videos about cars matched the cost of his ticket with a donation to a local law enforcement foundation.  The Wichita Eagle reports that Tyler Hoover said in a video posted Friday that he was ticketed speeding in a new Lamborghini. When a Sedgwick County sheriff's deputy stopped him, he didn't have his license and insurance with him.  Hoover, who runs popular YouTube channel "Hoovie's Garage," said he matched the cost of his ticket with a donation to the Honore Adversis Foundation. The nonprofit provides financial assistance to families of law enforcement officers seriously injured or killed in the line of duty in Sedgwick County. Hoover didn't say the cost of his ticket.  The Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office shared the video on Facebook and Twitter.


Former McCook Gazette Publisher Dies at Age 80

KEARNEY, Neb. (AP) — Former McCook Gazette publisher Gene O. Morris has died of pneumonia and heart complications. He was 80. Herrmann-Jones Funeral Chapel in McCook says Morris died Sunday at the Kearney Regional Medical Center. The McCook Gazette reports that Morris, who retired from the Gazette in 2008, began his work there in the early 1960s, serving as a sports and news writer and editor from 1961 to 1965. He later served as managing editor from 1969 to 1980; and as publisher from 1990 until 2007. In addition to his years with the Gazette, Morris's career included newspaper and chamber of commerce work in Nevada, Missouri, as well as in Kansas and Benkelman, Nebraska. Morris is survived by his wife, Barbara, four children, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Funeral services will be Saturday morning at the McCook Christian Church. A private burial will be held at a later date.


Kansas City Chiefs Expecting Hill in Camp; Jones's Status Still Uncertain

 ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) _ The Kansas City Chiefs expect wide receiver Tyreek Hill to report to training camp with the rest of the veterans this week, though whether star defensive tackle Chris Jones joins him remains to be seen.  Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Tuesday the organization has been in touch with Jones's representatives, but he's unsure where things stand in their contract discussions. Jones is entering the final year of his rookie deal and is seeking a lucrative, long-term extension. Things are less murky when it comes to Hill, whom the NFL declined to punish late last week. Hill had been suspended from the team pending the resolution of a domestic violence case. Rookies, quarterbacks and injured players reported to Missouri Western State University on Tuesday. They'll be joined by Hill and the other veterans Friday, with the first full-squad workout Saturday.

KU Football Player Malcolm Lee Arrested on Suspicion of DUI

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — University of Kansas defensive lineman Malcolm Lee has been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The Kansas City Star reports that logs from the Douglas County Sheriff's Department show that Lee was released on bond shortly after his Saturday morning arrest near the football stadium. University football communications director Katy Lonergan said Monday afternoon that staff is aware of the situation and will "handle the situation according to our internal policies." Lee is a sophomore transfer from Iowa Western Community College, where he played in 12 games last season, recording 43 total tackles, five sacks and 10 tackles-for-loss.

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