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Regional Headlines for Tuesday, December 3, 2013


UPDATE: 4th Victim in Topeka Shooting Incidents Dies

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka police say a fourth victim has died from gunshot wounds suffered in two related shootings over the weekend. Police spokeswoman Kristen Veverka says 45-year-old Carla Jean Avery died Tuesday at a hospital where she was taken Sunday after being found with a gunshot wound. The investigation of that shooting led to Avery's home a half-mile away, where two men and a woman were also found shot to death. Authorities have released few details about the shootings, which Veverka described as the first quadruple homicide in Topeka's history. The victims in Avery's home were her brother, her ex-husband and a 34-year-old woman, all of Topeka.


UPDATE: KS Man Charged with Capital Murder over 4 Deaths

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 22-year-old man has been charged with capital murder in the deaths of a southeast Kansas mother and her three children a week after being jailed. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt's office also charged David Cornell Bennett Jr., of Cherryvale, with rape and criminal threat. And as a potential alternative to the capital murder charge, Schmidt's office filed four counts of first-degree murder in Labette County District Court. Bennett is being held on $5 million bond over the deaths of 29-year-old Cami Umbarger and her young children. Their bodies were found in their Parsons home November 25. Parsons attorney Shane Adamson was appointed to represent Bennett. His office said he would not comment. Bennett has a court hearing scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.


UPDATE: KCMO City Hall Reopens After Bomb Threat

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police say a search of City Hall following a bomb threat has turned up nothing suspicious. About 600 people were evacuated from the 29-story building around 8:30 am Tuesday after a man called police saying he placed a bomb in the building Monday afternoon. Police say the search concluded at 2 pm. Officers did notice one item in an outdoor fountain that looked like a camera bag and sent a robot to check it out around 11 am. Investigators destroyed the item, which turned out to be harmless. The evacuation was ordered during a public hearing on the future of Kansas City International Airport. The meeting will resume in two weeks. Streets around City Hall were also closed during the search.


Prominent Politicians Hope to Boost KC's GOP Convention Bid

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Prominent Republicans from Missouri and Kansas are working to promote Kansas City's effort to host the 2016 Republican National Convention. A committee overseeing the project announced Monday that former Senator Bob Dole of Kansas, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, former Senator Kit Bond of Missouri and Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri have signed on to support the project. The Kansas City Star reports that more prominent names are likely to be added to the group in the future. Bond noted in a statement that Kansas City hosted the 1976 GOP convention. He says it would be great for the city to have the opportunity again.


Douglas County to Get Flood Insurance Update

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Douglas County commissioners will hear a presentation about the impact of changes taking effect next year in the National Flood Insurance Program. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the changes could affect the premiums paid by some property owners in the northeast Kansas county. Douglas County commissioners will hear the presentation Wednesday from the regional office of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The changes are the result of a new federal law known as the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012. The flood insurance program offers coverage to communities that agree to adopt and enforce certain flood plain management policies. The reform act called on FEMA to make a number of changes aimed at making the program more financially stable, including raising premium rates in some areas.

City of Wichita Approves $40M in Bonds for Cessna

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The Wichita City Council has approved about $40 million in industrial revenue bonds for Cessna. The Wichita Eagle reports  the council approved the bonds Tuesday. The plane-builder says the move should create at least 50 more Cessna jobs. The plan calls for Cessna to receive a 100 percent property tax abatement on the improvements for five years, with a second five-year term subject to council approval. Industrial revenue bonds are issued by governments without taxpayer liability and don't affect the tax revenue or the credit of the issuing government. The bonds will finance capital investment on Cessna's Wichita campus, including improvements to production space for product development and aircraft manufacturing. Also included are computer hardware and software and tools. The bond issue drew no public opposition during the meeting.

KS GOP Announces Speakers for Annual Gathering

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Texas Governor Rick Perry and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott are among the scheduled speakers for the Kansas Republican Party's annual convention in January. The two-day event will be held January 24-25 in Wichita. Hundreds of GOP elected officials and party activists are expected to attend. The Kansas GOP says Perry is scheduled to speak at a dinner January 24. He has been governor of Texas since 2000 and ran unsuccessfully for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination. Scott is the speaker for a January 25 party gala. He has served in the U.S. Senate since late 2012 and is considered among its most conservative members. Kansas Republicans schedule their annual convention each year on the Friday and Saturday nearest the January 29 anniversary of the state's 1861 admission to the union.


Junction City Police Say 1 Killed in Home Invasion

JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (AP) — Junction City police say a 22-year-old man was shot to death during a home invasion. A second person at the apartment suffered minor injuries and declined treatment. The man who died was identified as Jose M. Paz. Junction City police Lieutenant Jeff Childs said in a news release that police and emergency medical personnel found the two people after they were called to the apartment early Tuesday. An autopsy has been scheduled. No other details were released.


New Details Learned About Arrowhead Stadium Death

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police say a Missouri man who was found in someone else's vehicle outside Arrowhead Stadium and then died in a struggle had gone to a game between the Chiefs and the Broncos in a similar vehicle. Police released new details Tuesday in Sunday's death of Smithville resident Kyle Van Winkle after a parking lot altercation during the game. Police say Van Winkle's body did not show obvious signs of trauma. Police say a man returned to his vehicle during the game and found Van Winkle inside. That led to a fight between the vehicle owner and Van Winkle. Police say Van Winkle went to the game in a similar vehicle and the vehicle he was found in showed no signs of a break-in.



Wichita State Investigating Rules Violations


WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita State's athletics department says it's investigating improper clothing and apparel benefits to baseball players. The Wichita Eagle reports the university announced Tuesday that it has hired an Overland Park law firm that specializes in NCAA rules violations to help investigate. Wichita State says the violations came to light during the transition that followed the June 4 firing of longtime head baseball coach Gene Stephenson. He was replaced in mid-June by Arkansas assistant Todd Butler. No details of the violations or the number of Shocker players involved were disclosed in a brief statement issued by athletic director Eric Sexton. Sexton says officials believe the problem involves only the baseball program. He says the school is determined to ensure its compliance with the rules of the NCAA and the Missouri Valley Conference.


KS Gov's Economic Council to Discuss Housing

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A council advising Governor Sam Brownback on the Kansas economy is meeting this week to discuss the importance of housing to economic growth. Wednesday afternoon's meeting of the Governor's Council of Economic Advisors in Topeka will include a discussion of housing needs in rural communities. After a discussion among business leaders and officials, the council is scheduled to hear a presentation from the Kansas Housing Resources Corporation. The corporation is the primary administrator for federal housing programs in Kansas and is overseen by a board appointed by the governor. The council also plans to review data about the economy.

KU Police Looking for Man Who Tried to Lure Child

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — University of Kansas police are looking for a man who reportedly tried to lure a 9-year-old boy into his car on the university campus. Police say the boy was on his way home Monday when the man tried to talk him into getting into the vehicle. The boy ran home and told his parents. The man is described as a black male with possibly braided hair and a "short to medium size" beard. The only information on the vehicle is that it was large and brown. University police say the incident occurred close to Allen Fieldhouse.


5 Former KC Chiefs Sue Team over Head Injuries

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A former Kansas City Chiefs linebacker says he was never told that he would have severe disabilities later in life for continuing to play in games after sustaining a concussion. Chris Martin is one of five former Chiefs players who filed a lawsuit in Jackson County on Tuesday against the Chiefs organization for failing to disclose the dangers of competing after suffering head injuries. Suburban Kansas City attorney Ken McClain is representing the players. McClain says a proposed $765 million settlement by the NFL to compensate former players with brain injuries is insufficient and doesn't cover any of his clients in their case against the Chiefs. The team has refused to comment on the lawsuit.


Wheelchair Ramp Stolen Outside Wichita Apartment

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita woman says she feels sorry for whoever stole an aluminum wheelchair ramp from outside her ground-floor apartment. KWCH-TV reports that the theft happened in late November but wasn't reported until Monday, when a caretaker noticed the ramp was missing from outside a sliding glass door. Sixty-two-year-old Brenda Stoneley has multiple sclerosis and spends most of her time in a motorized wheelchair. She says the ramp had cost her $450, about two-thirds of her monthly income. Police believe the ramp was taken to be sold as scrap metal. Stoneley says she was angry at first, but now feels sorry that someone was desperate enough to steal the ramp. She has now bought a replacement ramp similar to the one that was stolen.


Burglars Heist $3,400 in Liquor from Wichita Store

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Thieves who hit a Wichita store apparently knew their liquor. Wichita police say the thieves took close to $3,400 in liquor during a break-in overnight Sunday at the Adams Liquor Store. The store owners say the thieves took the most expensive alcohol, including vodka and cognac, all from one spot. They took every size bottle on the shelf and were out the store quickly. One of the owners, Adam Syslunthrn, told KWCH-TV that the thieves grabbed about 40 bottles. He says police arrived within five minutes of the alarm going off and the thieves were already gone. Wichita police say the suspects apparently pried open the front doors to get into the store.


Lawrence Public Library Wins $275,000 Matching Grant

The Lawrence Public Library has landed a $275,000 matching grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the money will be used for various humanities programs. Because it's a matching grant, receipt of the money will be contingent on the library's fundraising efforts. The National Endowment for the Humanities has given the library five years to raise enough money to qualify for all $275,000 of the grant. 


TX Man Sentenced in KS for Cattle Fraud

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 50-year-old Texas man has been sentenced in Kansas to 21 months in federal prison for cattle fraud. The U.S. Attorney's office says William P. Cadle, of DeKalb, Texas, was sentenced Monday in federal court in Wichita, where he pleaded guilty earlier to one count each of loan fraud and criminal conversion. Cadle admitted defrauding First National Bank in Independence, Kansas in February 2012 by lying on a loan application about the number of cattle he owned as collateral. He also claimed to have bought Angus cattle with a Farm Service Agency loan. Those cattle had actually been bought by his son with an FSA loan, but Cadle sold them anyway without making payments to the agency.


Wichita Police ID Body Found in River

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Authorities in Wichita say a 36-year-old woman has been found dead in the Little Arkansas River near downtown. Police say the woman's body was found Monday floating in the river. She was identified Tuesday as Erin Beery of Wichita. Wichita police detective Dan Harty says foul play isn't suspected, and intoxication is thought to be a contributing factor to the death. Toxicology results are pending. Beery's body was found Monday by a man who was walking along the river.


KS Wastewater Official Sentenced to Probation

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A former northwest Kansas wastewater treatment superintendent has been sentenced to a year of probation and a $2,500 fine for violating the federal Clean Water Act. U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom says 58-year-old Charles Blair of Hays pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of negligent discharge of a pollutant and was sentenced Monday in federal court in Wichita. Blair admitted in his plea that in February 2012, he allowed effluent to be discharged from the Hays treatment plant with an ammonia nitrogen level exceeding state and federal regulations. Blair, who retired last year, was initially charged in a four-count indictment with making false statements about nitrogen levels in discharges from the treatment plant. But federal prosecutors replaced the indictment last week with the single misdemeanor count.

Blue Valley Students Part of International Testing Program

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — High school students in the Blue Valley School District in suburban Kansas City are part of a pilot project involving an international test that can be used to evaluate how they perform in comparison to some top-flight international students. Blue Valley's five high schools have been taking a pilot version of the international test called the Program for International Student Assessment. Their scores can be compared with those of top-scoring school systems such as those in Shanghai, Singapore and Finland. About 126 schools across the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom are also taking part in the pilot program. The Kansas City Star reports that Blue Valley's recent average scores are encouraging. Roughly five countries out of 65 scored statistically higher, and the next eight were statistically equal.


Kansas City Zoo Orangutans Embrace iPads

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Even the orangutans at the Kansas City Zoo are caught up in the iPad craze. The animals use the touch screens to make music, draw, watch videos and play simple games. The Kansas City Zoo is part of a national program started by a nonprofit conservation group Orangutan Outreach. The Apps for Apes program is designed to enrich the animals' lives and stimulate their minds. About 20 zoos in North America and New Zealand are in the program, including the National Zoo in Washington. The Kansas City Star reports that the zoo uses three iPads and has downloaded about 20 apps so far. Animal area supervisor Stacia Pieroni says the apes like the colors and simple games, although she admits not every orangutan is always interested in the activities.

Roofing Permit Demand in Hutchinson Returns to Normal

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — A surge in demand for roofing permits that began in Hutchinson after a July 23 hailstorm appears to be coming to an end. Nearly 2,000 new roofs, with a value of just under $24 million, have been installed since the hailstorm. The city issued an average of 110 roofing permits a week, with an average value of $1.3 million. Last week, 21 permits for new roofs valued at $117,783 were issued, the lowest numbers during the 18-week period and the third straight weekly decline, The Hutchinson News reported.

Ex-Wichita Officer Sentenced in Bribery Scheme

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A former Wichita police officer has been sentenced to one year of probation for conspiring to bribe a car-theft victim in an unsuccessful effort to keep her job. The U.S. Attorney's office says 35-year-old Joletta Vallejo was sentenced Monday in federal court in Wichita, where she pleaded guilty in August to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Vallejo admitted failing to follow procedures when two citizens reported being victims of crimes, then lying to department investigators about her actions. She also admitted arranging for co-defendant Patrick Melendrez to pay the car-theft victim $150 to recant his statement about her actions plus $150 if she kept her job. Melendrez was sentenced earlier to two years of probation. Vallejo served with the police department from January 2006 to August 2012.


Salina Man Draws 15 Year Sentence for Child Porn

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A 32-year-old Salina man has been sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for receiving and distributing child pornography. U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said Tuesday in a release that Justin S. Tatum pleaded guilty earlier to three counts of distributing child pornography. He was sentenced Monday in federal court in Wichita. Prosecutors say Tatum admitted sending images of child pornography to another man, Jeffrey Wiederholt, in exchange for child pornography. Grissom's office says the investigation began in 2011 when Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents acted on a lead related to Wiederholt, of Stanberry, Missouri. Wiederholt was convicted in U.S. District Court in Missouri and sentenced in August to 70 years in prison.


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