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Headlines for Friday, May 24, 2024

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Emily Fisher

Former Kansas Bank CEO Guilty of Stealing $47 Million

WICHITA, Kan. (KPR) — A former bank executive in southwest Kansas has pleaded guilty to embezzling millions of dollars from his bank, causing it to fail. Federal prosecutors say 52-year-old Shan (Shane) Hanes, of Elkhart, entered a guilty plea Thursday. He served as CEO of Heartland Tri-State Bank, where he embezzled $47 million. Hanes will be sentenced in August. He's facing up to 30 years in prison.


Former KC Official with Boilermakers Union Guilty of Racketeering

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KPR) — A former official with the Boilermakers Union in Kansas City, Kansas. has pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy. Federal prosecutors say 44-year-old Tyler Brown, of Kansas City, Missouri, was involved in serious financial misconduct. Brown was chief of staff at the KCK headquarters of the Boilermakers Union. He also served as special assistant to the international president of the union. Brown pleaded guilty Thursday to various charges including the misuse of union funds. According to court documents, he used the money to employ the family members of union officers, paying them hundreds of thousands of dollars for little - if any - work. Brown also spent union money on lavish trips to Europe and Asia for union officials and their families. He'll be sentenced August 22 and faces up to 20 years in prison.


At Least Four Tornadoes Touched Down in KC Metro Last Weekend

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KC Star) — Just how many tornadoes touched down in the Kansas City metro area last weekend? The National Weather Service now says four tornadoes touched down Sunday, at least for a brief period of time. The Kansas City Star reports that survey teams confirmed the news Thursday, saying that tornadoes touched down in Gardner and east of Linwood in rural Leavenworth County. That's in addition to the two tornadoes that touched down in Shawnee and Prairie Village.

Residents of Johnson County have been wondering why tornado sirens weren't activated Sunday and why the weather service did not issue any tornado warnings for the Kansas City area. According to KCUR Radio, officials say the tornadoes formed and fell apart too quickly for warnings to be issued and for sirens to be activated.

Showers and thunderstorms are likely for northeast Kansas Saturday night. Forecasters urge residents to stay weather aware and have multiple ways of receiving severe weather information, including a weather radio.

Visit the National Weather Service online for the latest weather information.


Ascension Continues to Address Aftermath of Ransomware Attack

WICHITA, Kan. (KNS) – Ascension says it’s continuing to address the impact of a ransomware attack that has hampered operations at hospitals and clinics in Kansas and over a dozen other states. The Kansas News Service reports that Ascension said in a statement Friday that some of its vendors are reconnecting to its network. It says patients and clinicians could see progress next week. Ascension says it noticed unusual activity on its network more than two weeks ago, and took many systems offline to limit the impact. Patient care remains disrupted as providers are taking notes on paper and are unable to access patient histories and other documents.


Kansas City Chiefs Visit the White House, Again

WASHINGTON (KPR) — President Joe Biden will welcome the Kansas City Chiefs to the White House next Friday. For many players, it will be their second trip to the White House in two years. The Chiefs won the Super Bowl in February. The Chiefs also won the previous Super Bowl and visited the White House in June of last year. The White House announced the reigning Super Bowl champions will visit the nation's capital May 31. No further details were released.


Wichita Abortion Clinic Temporarily Stops Seeing Patients

WICHITA, Kan. (KNS) – The Wichita abortion clinic Trust Women has temporarily stopped seeing patients and has canceled appointments amid leadership changes. The Kansas News Service reports that board chair Sapphire Garcia says the pause is to ensure the clinic provides optimal care, and it will reopen once it hires a new medical director. She declined to say when or why its previous medical director and co-executive directors departed. Kansas abortion clinics have played an increasingly large role in treating patients from states with abortion bans. Last year, Trust Women reported that over 80% of its patients travel from other states and over half live in Texas.

(–Additional reporting–)

Kansas Clinic Temporarily Halts Abortions After Leadership Shakeup

UNDATED (AP) – A Kansas women's health clinic that has often served as an epicenter of conflict over abortion rights has temporarily stopped offering the procedure, exasperating a strain on services in one of the few states in the region still allowing abortions.

The move this week at the Trust Women clinic in Wichita followed a leadership shakeup that was outlined in an article published Thursday by the reproductive rights-focused publication Rewire News Group.

Trust Women's board acknowledged what it described as a “leadership transition” in a statement but said it wouldn’t discuss the details for privacy reasons. The statement said it also was making changes in medical protocols.

“These were not decisions that were made because of anything nefarious,” said Sapphire Garcia, who was elected president of Trust Women’s board of directors last week, in an interview with The Associated Press on Friday. “These are things that, are in line with our evolution and our growth as an organization and any responsible organization that offers clinical care in a moment of transition like this must take a pause.”

She declined to discuss whether physicians had resigned and estimated that the pause in abortions would last days to maybe a couple of weeks.

Trust Women opened the Wichita clinic in 2013 in the same facility where Dr. George Tiller, a Wichita abortion provider, practiced before an anti-abortion extremist murdered him in 2009. Tiller and the Wichita clinic where he had performed late-term abortions had been a target for decades; it was bombed in 1985, and Tiller was shot in both arms in 1993.

Julie Burkhart, a former employee of Tiller, said she is distraught over what is happening at the clinic she founded before leaving to to run clinics in Wyoming and Illinois. “Heartbroken, upset, tied in knots. It’s hard to watch that,” she said.

Danielle Underwood, the director of communications for Kansans for Life, said the halt was “extremely concerning and raises a lot of questions.”

Garcia said Trust Women was able to reschedule its abortion patients. Two other clinics in the city also offer abortions.

After Roe v. Wade was reversed, Kansas was the first state where voters weighed in on abortion at the ballot box, resoundingly rejecting a constitutional amendment that could have led to an abortion ban in August 2022. Since then, the state — which now prohibits abortions after 21 weeks of pregnancy — has become a destination for people from more restrictive nearby states seeking abortion.

“Kansas providers are already strained to meet an overwhelming need, and any further disruption will affect patients’ ability to access critical and time-sensitive care,” said Hanna Sumpter, director of communications and marketing at Planned Parenthood Great Plains.

Trust Women, whose Oklahoma clinic stopped providing abortions because of a state ban, typically receives between 3,000 and 4,000 phone calls each day — most from patients requesting abortion appointments — at a time when it’s only able to see 40 to 50 patients per day, a spokesperson told the Kansas News Service in December.

Garcia said she didn't think there had been any changes since then in the numbers.

“We’re grateful to be moving forward together in a direction that considers how we can expand services," she said. "But to do that, we have to make responsible, measured decisions. And that is what this reflects, that we have proactively moved to pause abortion services very temporarily.”


New Data Indicates Many Kansas Cities Losing Population

UNDATED (KNS) — New data shows populations are falling in hundreds of cities across Kansas. The Kansas News Service reports that overall, the Kansas population grows a little each year. But according to new census data, almost 70 percent of municipalities have shrunk since 2020. While numbers dipped in small and big cities across the state, the Kansas City suburbs like Olathe are booming. Xan Wedel, a Data engineer at KU’s Institute for Policy and Social Research, says many Kansas towns will struggle without the workers and taxpayers they need to thrive. “These data illuminate the demographic challenges we're going to be faced over the next 20 years,” he explained. Wedel says housing costs, remote work and falling birthrates are driving those changes.


Federal Crop Insurance Proposal Draws Opposition from Kansas Rural Center

UNDATED (KNS) — A proposal to make insurance for major crops more affordable does not sit well with a Kansas agriculture group. The Kansas News Service reports that the organization says the U.S. House farm bill proposal fails to help smaller farms. The House Agriculture Committee’s $1.5 trillion bill would establish farming policy for the next five years. The nationwide American Farm Bureau supports the proposal because it would offer cheaper insurance for crops like corn and wheat. But Tom Buller of the Kansas Rural Center says smaller farms producing specialty crops that sell at farmers markets do not get as much protection, and they feel left out. “The difference between what they get under these insurance programs and what they would have gotten if their crop hadn’t failed is often very dramatic,” Buller added. The current farm bill is set to expire at the end of September.


Full Weekend of Activities Taking Place in Lawrence

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR / KCUR) — There's a lot going on in Lawrence this weekend. KPR's Cinema-a-Go-Go begins Friday night at 7 o'clock at Liberty Hall, the Art Tougeau parade is on Saturday and the Lawrence Busker Fest is underway all weekend long.

Art Tougeau
Cars painted, accented with sculptures, remade in wood or metal and otherwise transformed will drive through Lawrence Saturday. It's the 25th parade for one of the oldest, continuous art car events in the country. Each year, elaborately decorated cars, bikes, and even wheelbarrows roll down Massachusetts Street in an art exhibit on wheels. Amy Carlson is on the board of directors and helps organize the event. She says when it comes to the annual parade - anything goes. “Our motto is, if it rides, bring it on," she said. "So, as long as it rolls, you can express yourself however you want.” The parade begins at noon in front of The Lawrence Arts Center.


BuskerFest Returns to Lawrence Friday, Saturday & Sunday

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) — It'll be circus on the streets of downtown Lawrence this weekend. Starting Friday, the Lawrence Busker Festival returns to town, featuring a variety of entertainment, including magicians, jugglers, clowns and contortionists. All of the busking, or entertainment, in downtown Lawrence is free, but cash tips are greatly appreciated. It's the 16th year for the Busker Fest in Lawrence. The spotlight this year is on the area's local musicians. Learn more at LawrenceBuskerFest.com.

Listen to Tom Parkinson's report on this year's Busker Fest.


Study: Kansas and Missouri Drivers Among Worst in the Nation

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KC Star) — A new national study claims Kansas and Missouri have some of the worse drivers in the nation. According to the Kansas City Star, the personal finance publication Forbes Advisorcompared all 50 states across key metrics, like the total number of fatal car accidents and number of DUI arrests per 100,000 licensed drivers. The results? Kansas and Missouri are both in the top 10 for the worst drivers in the United States. According to Forbes, Kansas was named the eighth worst, while Missouri ranked 10th worst in the country.


KCK Landmark Mansion Saved from Collapse

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KCUR) — The Sauer Castle, which has stood for 150 years in Kansas City, Kansas has been saved from collapse. KCUR reports that Mike Heitmann bought the mansion last year and says he’s spent the last 12 months shoring up the red brick, five-story mansion. “It was just such a beautiful building and it was so well loved by the community and I felt like if something didn’t happen quickly that it was literally going to fall down,” he explained. The mansion sits on Shawnee Road just north of I-35 and overlooks the Kansas River. Heitmann says it will take another two years to finish the renovation.


Memorial Day Commemoration Scheduled at National World War I Museum and Memorial

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCUR) – The National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City is commemorating Memorial Day with special exhibits, ceremonies, and discounted tickets. KCUR reports that visitors can climb inside an old helicopter from the Vietnam War, watch amateur radio operators mimic wartime communications, and explore a flag display that honors veterans lost to suicide. On Monday, the Museum will host a ceremony starting at 10 am, and dedicate new bricks in its Walk of Honor.

Frank Ferrell, a museum visitor and retired air force chaplain, says he makes the day more personal by joining other veterans, saying that “...usually...the members of my American Legion Post back in South Carolina, we go visit the grave of the guy that our post is named after.”

The museum will also set up research stations for people who want to explore their family’s ties to World War I.


Kansas Lawmaker Charged with DUI, Gun Crime

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — A state representative from south-central Kansas has officially been charged with driving under the influence, among other charges, after being arrested earlier this year. Republican Representative Carl Maughan, from Colwich, has been charged with driving under the influence and possession of a firearm while under the influence. His court date is scheduled for June 26. KSNT reports that, in a separate case, Maughan is at risk of having his law license suspended. The Kansas Supreme Court heard oral arguments earlier this month on the matter, for which Maughan failed to appear. In that case, he's accused of misconduct in representing a client involved in a deadly crash in Wichita.


Topeka Woman Drowns in Arkansas

HARRISON, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA/KSNW) — A Topeka woman died after her kayak overturned on a river in Arkansas. The National Park Services says 69-year-old Judy Henderson-Baily drowned on Sunday. KSNW reportsthat her body was recovered from the Buffalo National River where her kayak had overturned and trapped her under a submerged tree. Members of her floating party tried to rescue her but to no avail. Authorities say Henderson-Baily was not wearing a life jacket.


Bodies of Missing Kansas Women Found in Freezer Buried Underneath Oklahoma Prairie

UNDATED (AP) — Recently unsealed court documents say the bodies of two Kansas women who disappeared in Oklahoma were found in a freezer buried underground. The documents reveal the bodies of 27-year-old Veronica Butler and 39-year-old Jilian Kelley, both of Hugoton, Kansas, were found April 14. Five people are facing charges in connection with the kidnapping and murder of the two women. At the time of the murders, one of the two Kansas women was involved in a bitter child custody dispute.

(Additional reporting...)

Bodies of Two Kansas Women Who Disappeared in Oklahoma Were Found in a Buried Freezer

UNDATED (AP) — The bodies of two Kansas women who disappeared in Oklahoma were found in a buried freezer, according to recently unsealed court documents. The bodies of Veronica Butler, 27, and Jilian Kelley, 39, both of Hugoton, Kansas, were found April 14 buried on land in rural Texas County and rented by Tad Cullum, who is among five people charged with kidnapping and killing the two women, according to the documents filed May 15.

Also found on the land, which Cullum rented for cattle grazing, were articles of clothing, duct tape and a knife, each “with possible blood on them,” in addition to black tape, electrical cord and a combination stun gun/flashlight, according to the documents.

Cullum, 43, his girlfriend Tifany Adams, 54, both of Keyes, Oklahoma; husband and wife Cole Twombly, 50, and Cora Twombly, 44, of Texhoma, Oklahoma; and Paul Grice, 31, are each charged with two counts of murder, two counts of kidnapping and a single count of conspiracy to commit murder. All are being held without bail and a gag order in the case prohibits attorneys from commenting on the case.

Investigators have said Butler and Adams were in a bitter child dispute over custody of Butler’s children, who are Adams’ grandchildren. Butler's attorney told investigators that Butler was likely to be granted unsupervised visitation during a hearing scheduled just more than two weeks after the two disappeared, the documents state. Butler and Kelley, who was to supervise a visitation with Butler and her children, disappeared March 30 while driving to pick up Butler’s two children from Adams for a birthday party.

The women’s car was found near the rural highway intersection about 260 miles (418 kilometers) from where Butler was to pick up her son and daughter. Butler’s glasses were found near the car and blood was found on the roadway, according to an arrest affidavit.

The buried freezer with the bodies inside was found about 8.5 miles from where the car was found and in the area where prepaid cell phones purchased by Adams were traced, according to the court documents.

A witness also told an investigator the Grice had asked him shortly after the bodies were found how long it would take the state lab to process DNA evidence, how long DNA would tast in dirt, how long DNA would last on clothing in dirt in a 15 feet deep hole and if he knew how to get a “guy and his family” into Mexico, according to documents.

The witness told the investigator that Grice said he was concerned about his DNA being in the hole where the bodies were found “because he had been to the Twombly residence.”

Another witness told Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation agents that all five suspects were part of “an anti-government group that had a religious affiliation” known as “God's Misfits” according to an affidavit.


Kansas Loses to Oklahoma in Big 12 Baseball Tournament Semifinals

UNDATED (KPR) – The Kansas Jayhawks were eliminated from the Big 12 baseball tournament in the semifinals after a Friday afternoon loss to top-seeded Oklahoma, 8-6. It was a walk-off win for the Sooners after a two-run home run by Jackson Nicklaus in the ninth inning. Earlier in the day, KU advanced to the tournament semis with an 11-10 win over TCU. The Jayhawks will await their fate on the NCAA tournament bracket, which will be released on Monday morning.


This summary of area news is curated by KPR news staffers. Our headlines are generally published by 10 am weekdays and are updated through 7 pm. This ad-free news summary is made possible by KPR members. Become one today. And follow KPR News on X (formerly Twitter,).