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Headlines for Friday, October 28, 2022


Man arrested for Threat Against Kansas GOP Congressman Jake LaTurner

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (KNS) - A man accused of threatening to murder Kansas Congressman Jake LaTurner is scheduled to appear in federal court next month. The Kansas News Service reports that the court will determine Chase Neill’s competency to stand trial. Neill is accused of leaving a voice message in June at LaTurner’s office that threatened to assault and murder the U.S. representative. A federal judge in Topeka found Neill had also made threats against other members of Congress. Neill’s competency to stand trial is under evaluation. His defense attorneys argued that he suffers from mental illness. LaTurner, a Republican, won his seat in Congress in 2020. He represents the eastern part of Kansas.


Kansas Hospitals See Surge of Children with RSV

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS/KMUW) - Kansas hospitals are seeing a surge of children hospitalized with RSV, a respiratory illness that can be serious for babies and young kids. The virus typically peaks in the winter, but experts say the COVID-19 pandemic changed its seasonality. Dr. Fouad Medlej (foh-AHD MED-lej) is a pediatrician at Stormont Vail in Topeka. “It can be something as simple as a runny nose and a cough and a fever," HE SAID. "But the other end of the spectrum could be severe airway or lung disease that may require an ICU stay, and even potentially mechanical ventilation and a breathing tube.” Officials say hospitalizations have been rising for weeks. While there’s no RSV vaccine, doctors say people should get their flu shot to reduce their chance of getting sick this year. Parents should also keep sick kids home and encourage precautions like hand-washing.


Suspect in Kansas City Deaths of 2 South American Researchers Identified

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Prosecutors say two South American researchers found dead in Kansas City apparently were killed by a man who has since died in a murder-suicide. The Jackson County Prosecutor's office says a police investigation determined that Kevin Ray Moore likely killed a 24-year-old researcher from Argentina, Camila Behrensen, and a 25-year-old researcher from Chile, Pablo Guzman Palma, and then, set their apartment on fire. Their bodies were found October 1 in their apartment near the Stowers Institute, a biomedical research center in Kansas City. Prosecutors say police also determined that Moore died in a murder-suicide in Clay County on October 16. Prosecutors did not reveal a possible motive for the killings.


Kansas City Officer Pleads Guilty to Assaulting Black Teen

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ A Kansas City police sergeant has pleaded guilty to third-degree assault for putting his knee on the neck of a Black 15-year-old and pushing the teenager's face into the ground of a parking lot. After his plea Thursday, Matthew Neal was placed on four years probation and required to surrender his law enforcement license. Neal confronted the teen after a car pursuit in November 2019. Prosecutors say the teenager and an adult driving the car were not resisting when Neal pressed his knee into the teen's head and neck, making it difficult for him to breathe. He suffered bruising, broken teeth and a gash on his head. The victim was not arrested or charged with any crime.


Lawrence Man Gets Nearly 28 Years in Prison for Sex Crimes Against Children

LAWRENCE, Kan. (LJW) - A Lawrence man has been sentenced 27.5 years in prison for sexually abusing two children under the age of 14. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that 38-year-old Zachary Jonathan Lang pleased guilty to four counts of aggravated criminal sodomy in September, and on Thursday Judge Sally Pokorny sentenced him to prison.  The charges relate to years of abuse of two children in his care from June 2018 to June 2021. The children were between the ages of 8 and 12 at the time of the abuse. Lang was originally facing 10 counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child under the age of 14. His original charging documents alleged that the abuse against the children began in 2009 when one of the children was first born and included a third child who was 4-years-old at the time of the abuse. The additional charges were dismissed as part of a plea agreement. Lang will be on lifetime post-release supervision when his sentence is finished. He's also required to register as a sex offender for life. Lang was originally charged with off-grid felonies, the most serious kind — the penalty for which is 25 years to life under Kansas law.


Johnson County Middle School Teacher Charged with 6 Counts of Unlawful Sexual Relations

DE SOTO, Kan. (KCTV) - A Johnson County middle school teacher is facing multiple counts of unlawful sexual relations. KCTV reports that Keil Hileman has been charged with six counts of unlawful sexual relations. The school district said he teaches at Monticello Trails Middle School, which is in Shawnee. Each count states the victim was 16 or older. The first five counts involve the same victim. The sixth count involves a second victim. According to court documents, both were students at the time. The district, which is headquartered in De Soto, said they were first made aware of the allegations on October 6.  District officials say they acted immediately, removing Hileman from the classroom and school campus. He was then placed on leave. “Hileman will not be returning to the school district,” the district said in a statement. Due to “procedures regarding personnel matters,” the district will “take action on his employment at a future meeting.”

(Additional reporting...)

Kansas Middle School Teacher Faces Sex Charges

DE SOTO, Kan. (KCUR) - A middle school teacher in Shawnee, Kansas, charged with multiple counts of unlawful sexual relations made his first appearance in court Thursday. Keil Hileman, a teacher at Monticello Trails Middle School, was booked into Johnson County jail Wednesday. He’s charged with six counts of unlawful sexual relations occurring between June 2017 and October 2022. Court documents say the alleged crimes were committed against two students at the school, where Hileman was formerly employed. The USD 232 district said it was notified on October 6th of the allegations and immediately removed him from the school campus. It said he will not be returning. A public defender has been appointed to represent Hileman.


Abortion Foes Seek Ouster of 5 Kansas Supreme Court Justices

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP/KPR) — The most influential anti-abortion group in Kansas politics is urging voters in mailers to remove five of the seven justices on the state Supreme Court. Kansans for Life has criticized the court for a 2019 decision declaring that access to abortion is a fundamental right under the state constitution, and the group campaigned for a proposed amendment declaring that the state constitution doesn't grant a right to abortion. Kansas voters decisively rejected that amendment in August, and abortion rights supporters have been expecting an ouster campaign. Two of the targeted justices voted to affirm abortion rights in the 2019 decision, and three are appointees of Democratic Governor Laura Kelly. Kansans for Life has recommended rejecting all the Kansas justices up for retention except Caleb Stegall, who was appointed by former Republican Governor Sam Brownback.


Construction Worker Killed in Missouri Bridge Collapse Identified

KEARNEY, Mo. (AP) _ Officials say one construction worker died and three others were injured when a bridge under construction collapsed in a rural area in northwest Missouri. Clay County officials identified the fatality victim as 22-year-old Connor Ernst of California, Missouri. Sheriff's officials initially said two people were injured when the bridge fell Wednesday but later said a third person was also injured on the bridge when it fell while concrete was being poured for its deck. Those three workers were able to extricate themselves from the rubble and suffered only minor injuries. The bridge spanned a creek in a rural area near Kearney, about 27 miles northeast of Kansas City.


Sister Guilty in Connection to Shooting Death of 12-Year-Old Brother in Leavenworth

LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (KCTV) -- The 21-year-old sister of a 12-year-old who was killed in a shooting in April 2021 has been convicted of involuntary manslaughter. KCTV reports that 21-year-old Brooke Johnson, of Kansas City, was convicted for her connection to a shooting that happened in the parking lot of a pharmacy in Leavenworth.

Prosecutors say Johnson used social media to arrange the sale of a gun to three residents in Leavenworth County. She intended to sell them a BB gun that resembled a real gun with the intention of driving off with their money before they realized it was not a real gun. Johnson recruited two juveniles -- one of them her 12-year-old brother -- to assist with the scheme. After parking across from each other in the pharmacy parking lot, a teenage male walked from the purchasers’ car and received the fake gun in exchange for $400 cash. As the male started to walk back to the car, he realized the gun was not real.

According to court documents, shots from a real gun were fired at Brooke Johnson’s car, hitting it multiple times as it left the parking lot. One stray bullet struck the car of a woman driving past the pharmacy with her 6-month-old baby inside. After leaving the scene, Brooke Johnson realized her brother had been shot and took him to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, where he was pronounced dead.


7 People Hurt when Amusement Park Train Derails in Branson

BRANSON, Mo. (AP) _ Seven people suffered what were described as minor injuries after an amusement park train derailed in Branson. The derailment happened Wednesday evening at Silver Dollar City. Six patrons and one employee were taken to hospitals after the Frisco Silver Dollar Line Steam Train derailed. Stone County officials say three cars derailed, falling onto their side. No one appeared to have any broken bones or other serious injuries.


U.S. Marshals Shoot, Kill Escaped Inmate in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KSHB) — U.S. Marshals shot and killed an escaped inmate while serving a warrant Wednesday in in the 3500 block of Bellefontaine in Kansas City, Missouri. KSHB TV reports that U.S. Marshals were working alongside Kansas City police officers while serving an arrest warrant around 2:30 pm. According to Missouri State Highway Patrol, officers spotted and approached the man, identified as 40-year-old Joshua Bailes, at a home in the area. Agents say they knocked on the door and then, the suspect allegedly approached them with a gun and pointed it at agents. Marshals fired a single-shot, killing the man. The man was a suspect in a shooting and aggravated robbery in Kansas City, Kansas. Bales had walked away from a half-way house in Leavenworth County and a warrant had been issued for his arrest in September. No law enforcement officers were injured.

(AP version)

Authorities: Armed Fugitive Killed by U.S. Marshal in Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri State Highway Patrol says a U.S. Marshal shot and killed a man who had walked away from a halfway house in Kansas last month. Patrol spokesman Sgt. Bill Lowe says 40-year-old Joshua Bailes was shot Wednesday afternoon at a home in Kansas City, Missouri, after he pointed a gun at authorities who had tracked him down. Marshals were working with Kansas City police to serve a warrant when Bailes was spotted at a home in the area. Lowe says Bailes pointed a gun at them after agents knocked on the door. A marshal fired one round, killing Bailes. No officers were injured.


Feds Release Report on Nationwide Teacher Shortage

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCUR) - The Government Accountability Office has released a report on the growing nationwide teacher shortage. The report echoes concerns raised by educators in Kansas and Missouri. The report says low teacher pay is one of the main reasons teachers are leaving the field. School districts in both Kansas and Missouri have recently tried to improve salaries and benefits to encourage current and former teachers to continue teaching. Marcus Baltzell, communications director at the Kansas chapter of the National Education Association, says low salaries are hurting teachers. The report lists two recommendations to the Department of Education, one of which is directed at improving teacher pay.


EPA Releases Plan to Help Residents Living in Contaminated Communities

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCUR) - The Environmental Protection Agency released a new strategy Thursday that aims to help residents living in lead contaminated communities. The Kansas News Service reports the plan recognizes the historical environmental racism of lead poisoning. The “E-P-A Strategy to Reduce Lead Exposures And Disparities In U-S Communities” lays out timelines to review lead standards, test more kids for lead, and create jobs to clean-up contamination. E-P-A official Carlton Waterhouse says the strategy addresses lead exposure as an environmental justice issue for low-income and people of color. “For decades, we've known and we've seen that despite decreased levels of blood lead in children, there still remains a consistent disparity for people based on race," he said. The Midwest has some of the highest lead levels in the country.


Semiconductor Company Investing $4 Million Near Manhattan, Promises to Create 30 Jobs

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) – Radiation Detection Technologies (RDT), a semiconductor device manufacturer, is expanding its operations around Manhattan. Company officials say they will create 30 new jobs over the next five years with a $4 million investment to construct a new facility and purchase new semiconductor processing equipment. Governor Laura Kelly announced the news this week. RDT was founded in 2011 by the Kansas State University Semiconductor Materials and Radiological Technologies (SMART) Lab in Manhattan. RDT focuses on manufacturing state-of-the-art, high-quality semiconductor devices, materials, radiation detectors, and electronic circuit technologies for use in multiple industries, including healthcare, defense, energy, and agriculture.


Kansas Voters Will Decide on Proposed Sheriff Amendment

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (KNS) - A proposed amendment to the state constitution on the ballot in Kansas this fall may make it harder to remove a sheriff from office. A "yes" vote on the amendment means a sheriff can only be removed by the state’s attorney general or a local recall election. A "no" vote would continue to allow local prosecutors to conduct removal procedures and allow county officials to turn an elected sheriff position into an appointed job. Diane Minear is an attorney who formerly worked for several state offices. She says approving the amendment would mean less local oversight of sheriffs. “Because then it’s going to be up to the attorney general to expel a bad actor," she said. Supporters of the amendment say local residents should be able to elect their sheriff and they have oversight through the ballot box.


No One Hit Powerball Lottery, Jackpot Grows to $800 Million for Saturday Night

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — No one won an estimated $700 million Powerball jackpot, meaning the big prize will grow to an estimated $800 million for the next drawing, on Saturday night. The numbers drawn Wednesday night were: 19, 36, 37, 46 and 56. The Powerball was 24. No one has matched all six numbers and won the Powerball jackpot since August 3, allowing the prize to grow to the fifth-largest in U.S. history. That amounts to 36 consecutive drawings without a jackpot winner. The new $800 million jackpot amount is for winners who take their winnings through an annuity, paid annually over 29 years. Nearly all winners actually choose the cash option, however, which would be $383.7 million after taxes.


Wisconsin Contractors Banned from Kansas, Ordered to Pay $230,000 for Violations

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - Two Wisconsin men and their roofing company have been banned from doing business in Kansas and ordered to pay $230,000 in penalties for alleged violations of consumer protection laws.  Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt made the announcement today (THUR), saying that Benjamin Thayer, of Cambridge, Wisconsin, and Ryan Metzker, of Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, and Copperhead Contracting of Milton, Wisconsin, have been banned from operating as roofing contractors in Kansas. A Shawnee County District Court judge approved the judgment and ordered the defendants to pay the $230,000 fine.  

Schmidt alleged that the defendants conducted door-to-door solicitations and entered into contracts with seven individuals and one business for roofing services following a hail storm in May 2018. Schmidt says the defendants failed to register with the state as required by law and failed to provide consumers with notices that they had a right to cancel the transaction, a violation of the Kansas Consumer Protection Act.

In a separate case, a Sherman County roofer and his business have been banned from performing roofing services in Kansas and ordered to pay $10,000 in penalties after being found in violation of consumer protection laws. Travis Hollingshead, doing business as Holly Enterprises, of Goodland, was banned from operating as a roofing contractor in Kansas. A Sherman County District Court judge approved the deal reached between Hollingshead and Schmidt’s office. 


After Abortion Vote, Kansas Lawmakers' Power Back on Ballot

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP/KPR) — Kansas voters are being asked to give their legislators greater power over how state government operates. They will decide November 8 whether to approve a proposed amendment to the Kansas Constitution to make it easier for the Kansas Legislature to overturn regulations imposed by state agencies. It would cover agencies under control of the governor but others as well. If lawmakers don't like a regulation now, they can complain and hope the agency backs off, or they can pass a bill that the governor can veto. The measure would allow lawmakers to overturn a regulation with a simple majority vote in both chambers. Critics see it as a legislative power grab.


Housing Assistance Still Available in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (KNS) - Kansas has given out almost $25 million in federal homeowner assistance to help people catch up on their bills. And the Kansas News Service reports that funds are still available. The program has helped more than 2,000 Kansas homeowners in the last six months and homeowners can apply for the money if they own a home in Kansas, are at least 30 days behind on their mortgage and meet certain income requirements. The cash helps with mortgages, property taxes or utility fees. The program aims to keep people in their homes. Applications for the program are open until the remaining $30 million in funding runs out.


KU School of Music Celebrates 50 Years of Jazz

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KPR) — The University of Kansas School of Music is celebrating a major milestone with a celebration and concert. The KU Jazz 50th Anniversary Celebration will commemorate 50 years of the “official” jazz program — and the “unofficial” bands that existed beforehand. The event will feature two concerts highlighting alumni of the KU Jazz Studies Program, both taking place at 7:30 pm at the Lied Center of Kansas on October 28 and 29.

October 28
Current performers for KU Jazz Ensemble I will present a tribute to saxophonist and woodwind artist Gary Foster, with guest soloists Steve Houghton (drums), Matt Otto and Paul Haar (saxophones), Ron McCurdy (trumpet), Jeff Harshbarger (bass) and others. Foster, a 1962 graduate of KU and a native of Leavenworth, is one of the most celebrated jazz and commercial music artists from the Los Angeles scene, with performance and recording credits including Barbra Streisand, Natalie Cole, Frank Sinatra and Mel Torme along with a list of some of the most important jazz artists of the past 50 years. He also appears on more than 500 motion picture soundtracks.

October 29
KU alumni from the past 50 years will perform in big bands and a vocal jazz ensemble, and they will be directed by the program’s four directors—Robert Foster (the founder of the program in 1972), James Barnes, Ron McCurdy and Dan Gailey.

Tickets are available from the Lied Center

The KU Jazz Studies Program began its “official” existence in 1972, when Robert Foster, then KU director of bands, formed the first jazz ensemble within the curriculum. Since that time, the program has grown to include three big bands, 11 jazz combos, a vocal jazz ensemble, and numerous classes in jazz and commercial music. In addition to Foster’s direction, the program was led in subsequent years by James Barnes, Ron McCurdy and the current director, Dan Gailey. The program is now considered one of the premier college jazz programs in the nation. (Read more.)


Help Wanted: Kansas Public Radio Seeks New Statehouse Bureau Chief

TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) - Kansas Public Radio is seeking a new Statehouse Bureau Chief. This position works primarily at the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka. Duties include managing all aspects of KPR’s capital news bureau, which provides broadcast and digital news reports to a number of radio stations in Kansas and Missouri. This position is primarily responsible for reporting on all aspects of state government. The KPR Statehouse Bureau Chief researches, writes, reports and produces spot news, digital stories and long-form audio features for KPR and its reporting partners. Learn more about this position.

The University of Kansas prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, national origin, age, ancestry, disability status as a veteran, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, gender identity, gender expression, and genetic information in the university's programs and activities. Retaliation is also prohibited by university policy.


No. 9 Oklahoma St Visits No. 22 K-State in Big 12 Showdown

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Kansas State hopes to know late in the week whether it will have Adrian Martinez under center when the No. 22 Wildcats play ninth-ranked Oklahoma State in a game that could help decide who plays in the Big 12 championship game. Martinez barely played last week at TCU, when the Wildcats (5-2, 3-1) blew a 28-10 lead in a loss to the Horned Frogs that left them fighting for second place in the conference race. They are tied with Oklahoma State (6-1, 3-1), which also has lost to TCU, and that means the winner Saturday will have a big advantage in the race for a title-game rematch.


K-State QB Adrian Martinez Among Finalists for "Academic Heisman"

IRVING, Texas (AP) — Kansas State quarterback Adrian Martinez and Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell were among 15 players named finalists for the William V. Campbell Trophy, an award given to college football's top scholar-athlete. Finalists are chosen from all levels of college football by the National Football Foundation and earn an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship. The winner will be announced December 6 and receive an additional $7,000 scholarship. Other finalists include Auburn kicker Anders Carlson, Stanford offensive lineman Walter Rouse and UTSA offensive lineman Ahofitu Maka.


Kansas City Chiefs' Frank Clark Suspended 2 Games for Weapons Charges

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP/KPR) — Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Frank Clark has been suspended two games by the NFL after pleading no contest last month to two counts of misdemeanor possession of an assault weapon in Los Angeles. The league announced the suspension this week as the Chiefs head into their bye week. He will miss games against the Titans and Jaguars and will be allowed back with the team on Nov. 14 in time for that week's game against the Chargers. The three-time Pro Bowl pass rusher was sentenced to one year of probation and 40 hours of community service after he was arrested in March 2021, when an officer noticed a weapon in a car Clark was riding in and recovered two loaded firearms. Clark was arrested when he was pulled over while riding with another man in a vehicle that did not have a license plate. Three months later, Clark was pulled over for a code violation and officers discovered another gun in his vehicle.

Without Clark, the Chiefs will have to lean on first-round draft pick George Karlaftis and veteran Carlos Dunlap along with Mike Danna, who has struggled for several weeks with a calf injury but should be healthy after the bye. They also will need to get continued production from defensive tackle Chris Jones, who leads the team with five sacks.


These area headlines are curated by KPR news staffers, including J. Schafer, Laura Lorson, Kaye McIntyre, and Tom Parkinson. Our headlines are generally posted by 10 am weekdays, 11 am weekends. This news summary is made possible by KPR listener-members. Become one today. And follow KPR News on Twitter.


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