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Headlines for Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Here's a look at area headlines from the Associated Press

Ex-Staffer: Sexual Harassment Rampant at Kansas Statehouse 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A former chief of staff to a Democratic legislative leader says sexual harassment is "rampant" at the Kansas Statehouse and that she was once asked for sex by a lawmaker. Abbie Hodgson said Wednesday that several female college students working as legislative interns also acted as after-hours designated drivers for intoxicated lawmakers last year. Hodgson was chief of staff in 2015 and part of 2016 for then-Kansas House Minority Leader Tom Burroughs, of Kansas City, Kansas. She said her experiences and conversations with other women showed her that Kansas legislators face no repercussions for sexual harassment. She declined to name the lawmakers involved in the incidents. Burroughs did not immediately reply to a phone message seeking comment. Republican leaders say sexual harassment isn't tolerated and that allegations of it are investigated.

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Filing: US Prosecutors Violated Court Orders in Kansas Probe 

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The federal public defender says the U.S. attorney's office in Kansas has violated court orders amid a court-appointed official's investigation into the recording of attorney-client meetings at the Leavenworth Detention Center. Federal Public Defender Melody Brannon asked a federal judge Wednesday to order the government to show why it should not be held in contempt of court for destroying evidence and refusing to cooperate with the special master as previously ordered. The filing also accuses federal prosecutors of influencing the U.S. Secret Service to not cooperate. A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office said it would reserve its comment for the courtroom. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson has earlier scheduled a November 28 hearing to discuss the special master's findings and other issues related to the probe.

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Kansas GOP Chairman Announces Run for Secretary of State

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Republican Party's chairman says he is running for secretary of state next year. Kelly Arnold, a Wichita Republican, has served as Sedgwick County's elected clerk since 2009 and state GOP chairman since 2013. Kansas House Speaker Pro Tem Scott Schwab and House Elections Committee Chairman Keith Esau also are seeking the GOP nomination. Both are from Olathe. Veteran state Senator Marci Francisco of Lawrence is also considering running for the Democratic nomination and plans to announce a decision after local elections November 7. Incumbent Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach is running for governor. Kobach pushed successfully for tough voter identification laws and the power to prosecute alleged election fraud. The GOP candidates to replace him backed those policies.

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Kansas Gubernatorial Candidate Refocuses Campaign After Grandson's Death

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Democratic candidate for Kansas governor whose 3-year-old grandson's body was found encased in concrete has joined the push to reform the state's child welfare agency. The Hays Post reports that former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer says his family filed multiple requests with the Kansas Department of Children and Families to check on his grandson, Evan Brewer, before the toddler's remains were found last month. Brewer says he decided to remain in the race after hearing from other families and determining nothing would change "unless somebody steps in." Kansas House Minority Leader Jim Ward, of Wichita, called months ago for the resignation of the agency's chief, Phyllis Gilmore, and former state Representative Mark Hutton, a GOP candidate, did so recently. 

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BuzzFeed Sues Kris Kobach over Denied Records Requests

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — BuzzFeed Inc. is suing Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and his office for refusing to release emails containing any of 30 terms that relate to immigration or the election. A reporter for BuzzFeed asked Kobach's office in June for emails sent or received May 1 that include terms such as ICE, immigrant, Trump, voter, fraud and Mexican. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the lawsuit, filed Friday in Shawnee County District Court, says Kobach's office first asked for $1,025 for 13 hours of work and an attorney's review. The office refused to release any records when the reporter challenged the cost. A lawyer for Kobach's office said the records may be unrelated to his official business or policy proposals and are exempt from open records law.

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Human Remains Found in Suburban Kansas City Storage Unit

LENEXA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities say human remains have been found in a suburban Kansas City storage unit. Lenexa police said in a news release that the discovery was made Tuesday night as officers were checking on a report that people had been sleeping in one of the units at a U-Haul Moving and Storage facility. The release says police are conducting a "death investigation." No information was provided about the cause of death, age or gender of the person found dead. Lenexa Officer Danny Chavez told WDAF-TV that the identification process may "take some time" because of the degree of decomposition.

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SKF USA to Close Seneca Factory, Eliminating 170 Jobs

SENECA, Kan. (AP) — SKF USA says it plans to close its plant in Seneca during the next 18 months, eliminating 170 jobs in the small town north of Topeka. The plant is one of the main employers in Seneca, which has a population of about 2,000 people. SKF USA is owned by Sweden-based SKF Group. The company said Tuesday it is consolidating its industrial seals manufacturing work. The work being done in Seneca will be transferred to a plant in Salt Lake City. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Mayor Joe Mitchell called the decision a "huge blow" to the city. Mitchell said he's hopeful the town will find another manufacturer to replace SKF.

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Former Johnson County Foster Parent Sentenced for Child Rape

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) _ Authorities say a former Kansas foster parent has been sentenced to more than 25 years in prison for sexually assaulting some of the children in his care.  Forty-eight-year-old Sean Murphy, of Edgerton, was sentenced Wednesday for two counts of child rape and one count of child sexual exploitation. A Johnson County prosecutor's office spokeswoman says Murphy was working overseas as a contractor when he was arrested in April and entered a no contest plea in June.  Court documents say he recorded two of the victims engaging in sex acts to create child pornography. The Kansas Department of Children and Families didn't immediately respond to an email message from The Associated Press. But the agency said earlier that Murphy had passed the required home inspection and a criminal background check. 

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Lawrence Activist Banned from University Building Hired

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A Lawrence activist who's banned from one building at the University of Kansas for making students and staff feel unsafe has been hired to teach students on another part of the university's campus. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Caleb Stephens was banned from the university's School of Social Welfare building after a confrontation in 2015 with the school's then-dean. University officials say the confrontation disrupted the learning environment and caused students and staff to fear for their safety. The university confirmed Monday that Stephens has been hired as a graduate teaching assistant in the department of theater, where he's also a doctoral student. A university official says Stephens's building ban is still effective until end of 2018. Stephens is a licensed social worker and organizer for Lawrence's Black Lives Matter chapter.

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Poachers Face Jail Time, Fines for Killing Deer in Kansas 

PRATT, Kan. (AP) — Two 20-year-old Missouri hunters have been sentenced to 60 days in county jail and ordered to pay $18,200 in fines for poaching deer in Kansas. Pratt County Attorney Tracey Beverlin said in a news release that Hunter Bottcher, of Otterville, Missouri, and Samuel Hawieson, of Sedalia, also must pay $4,361 in restitution. The two pleaded guilty Tuesday to seven hunting violations including criminal hunting, hunting with an artificial light and illegally taking trophy big game deer. The two men's hunting licenses were suspended in 47 states. Their hunting equipment and two illegally obtained deer heads were confiscated.

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Kansas Man Charged in Fatal Bar Shooting

EUDORA, Kan. (AP) — An eastern Kansas man has been charged in a shooting at a bar that left one dead. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that 36-year-old Danny W. Queen of Eudora has been charged with one count of first-degree murder in the death of 32-year-old Bo Hopson, who worked at the bar as a security guard. Queen has also been charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder for allegedly pointing his gun at two witnesses and pulling the trigger, but not shooting them. Witnesses and law enforcement officers testified Tuesday that Queen started shooting outside D-Dubs in June after employees asked him to leave because of his alleged inappropriate behavior at the bar. Queen's attorneys say they don't object to evidence presented at the hearing.

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Man Accused of Following Boy Home from Bus Stop Arrested

ARKANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have arrested a registered sex offender who is suspected of following a 10-year-old boy home from a south-central Kansas bus stop. KFDI-FM reports that Arkansas City police announced the arrest of the 34-year-old man Tuesday on their official Facebook page. He was wanted for a parole violation. Police say he followed the boy Oct. 4 from the bus stop to his home a couple blocks away and asked if he could come inside. The boy said "No," locked the door and then took a picture of the man through the front window. Officers later learned that a man matching the description of the suspect had family in the area where the boy lives.

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Parents Sue Leavenworth County for Records in Son's Case

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — The parents of a Kansas teenager who vanished nearly 30 years ago hope a trial next month will provide clues about whether their son was murdered after he was last seen at a high school graduation party and if his disappearance was properly investigated. Harold and Alberta Leach of Linwood, Kansas, sued Leavenworth County in civil court after county officials rejected their request through the state's open records act to see documents from the April 1988 through December 1992 investigation of 17-year-old Randy Leach's disappearance. The parents' lawyer, Maxwell Kautsch, said the Leavenworth County attorney concluded in April 1990 that Leach saw something he shouldn't have and someone "took care" of the teenager. Kautsch said the records could show whether Leavenworth County properly investigated the case, which was classified as a homicide in 2002. 

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Fort Riley Soldier Dies on Base; Cause Under Investigation

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Fort Riley officials say a 1st Infantry Division soldier has died after being found unresponsive at his on-post home. The death of 36-year-old Sgt. 1st Class George Bible III, of Clarksville, Tennessee, is the ninth death of 1st Infantry soldiers connected to the base who have died in the last five months. Fort officials say Bible was found Sunday. His cause of death is under investigation. He joined the Army in March 2002 and deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan several times. He was a platoon sergeant who repaired Black Hawk helicopters. Since July, two other 1st Infantry soldiers died on the base and others died in Junction City, Geary County, Topeka, Milford Lake and Fort Hood, Texas. The deaths are under investigation or were ruled suicides.

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2 Killed in Wreck on I-49 in Western Missouri

PECULIAR, Mo. (AP) - Authorities say two people have been killed in a three-vehicle crash south of Kansas City in western Missouri. The Missouri State Highway Patrol says the crash happened last (TUE) night when 56-year-old Rodney Noble, of Peculiar, side-swiped another vehicle in the southbound lanes of Interstate 49 in Cass County. The impact caused both vehicles to travel into the median. The Ford kept going, passing through the median cable barrier and striking a northbound vehicle. The highway patrol says the crash killed Noble and the driver of the northbound vehicle, who was identified as 34-year-old William Creamer, of Kansas City, Missouri.

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Slain Missouri Teen Was Person of Interest in 2016 Homicide

NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Authorities say a suburban Kansas City man whose death is being investigated as a homicide was believed to have information about a 2016 killing. North Kansas City Police Major James Bagley says officers were responding to a shots fired call early Monday when they found 19-year-old Zachary Thomas Murphy, of Gladstone, dead on the front porch of an apartment building. Murphy was a person of interest in the September 2016 shooting death of 22-year-old Logan Minton, of Riverside, in North Kansas City. Investigators said they believed he had information about who may have shot Minton but refused to cooperate. Authorities believe that Minton was abducted in Kansas City before the shooting. Minton's death remains unsolved.

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Police Arrest Man Accused of Following Boy Home from Bus Stop

ARKANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - Authorities have arrested a registered sex offender who is suspected of following a 10-year-old boy home from a south-central Kansas bus stop. KFDI-FM reports that Arkansas City police announced the arrest of the 34-year-old man Tuesday on their official Facebook page. He was wanted for a parole violation. Police say he followed the boy October 4 from the bus stop to his home a couple blocks away and asked if he could come inside. The boy said "No," locked the door and then took a picture of the man through the front window. Officers later learned that a man matching the description of the suspect had family in the area where the boy lives.

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Topeka Man Pleads Guilty in Pedestrian's Death in 2016 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Topeka man has pleaded guilty in the July 4, 2016 death of a pedestrian. Jason Patterson entered the plea Tuesday to involuntary manslaughter and driving under the influence. Patterson was charged in the death of 60-year-old Tara French. She was hit by a truck on the west side of Lake Shawnee. Police determined Patterson had a blood alcohol level of 0.18 percent when he was stopped after the accident. The legal limit in Kansas is 0.08 percent. Sentencing is scheduled for December 19.

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Kansas Drag Racer Dies in Crash at California Track

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (AP) — Authorities say a drag racer from Kansas has died following a crash at a California track. The Kern County coroner's office says Brett Henry struck a wall during a race Saturday at Auto Club Famoso Raceway north of Bakersfield. The 50-year-old died the next day at a hospital. The coroner's office hasn't yet determined the cause of death. The National Hot Rod Association released a statement extending condolences to Henry's family. The racing media outlet Dragzine reports Henry, of Wichita, was driving as part of the NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion when the crash took place.

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Laura Hockaday, Longtime Kansas City Star Editor, Dies

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Laura Rollins Hockaday, a longtime writer for The Kansas City Star who worked to add diversity to the newspaper's society pages, died at the age of 79. Her cousin, Irv Hockaday, former CEO of Hallmark Cards, said she died Tuesday at St. Luke's Hospital in Kansas City from complications of viral pneumonia. Hockaday worked at The Star from 1962 to 2000, spending the final 18 years as the paper's people editor. The newspaper reports that she accepted that job on the condition that she could define what society was, and she was dedicated to including the under-recognized civic contributions of African-Americans and Hispanics. Hockaday, who never married, was preceded in death by her parents and a brother.

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