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Headlines for Wednesday, October 11, 2017

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

More than 70 Foster Kids Missing in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Lawmakers are expressing outrage after learning more than 70 foster children are missing in Kansas. The Kansas City Star reports that foster care contractors discussed the issue Tuesday. The discussion was prompted by the disappearance in August of three sisters from a foster home in Tonganoxie. Democratic Senator Laura Kelly, of Topeka, says she's "flabbergasted." The Kansas Department for Children and Families' chief, Phyllis Gilmore, says in many cases when children turn up missing from foster homes, they have gone to their biological families or other people with whom they have a relationship. Chad Anderson, an official for one contractor, KVC Kansas, says the number of missing represents about 1 percent of the foster care population and is in line with the national average. But Anderson acknowledged more could be done to share day-to-day information about missing youth. This is not the first time that startling allegations were revealed at a meeting of the child welfare task force. Last month, private foster care contractors said that children spent the night in the contractors’ offices more than 100 times over the past year because no homes willing to accept them could be found.


Kansas Governor Issues First Pardon over 1994 Theft Case

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has issued his first pardon in almost seven years in office to a man convicted of felony theft as a college student in 1994.  Brownback's office announced the pardon Tuesday for Mark Schmitt of Parker, Colorado. Schmitt is a Liberal, Kansas, native convicted of felony theft while living as a college student in Ottawa.  The governor's office said the charge arose from a false insurance claim for $1,552. It said Schmitt completed probation, paid restitution and had his record expunged.  Brownback said in a statement that Schmitt has proven since to be "a man of character." The governor's office said Schmitt applied for a pardon from former Democratic Governor Mark Parkinson but the paperwork was lost.  Brownback denied 72 other clemency applications.


Kansas Agency, Labor Union Split over Staffing at Larned State Hospital

LARNED, Kan. (AP) — State officials overseeing mental health hospitals and an employee labor union are disputing over whether Larned State Hospital in west-central Kansas is being staffed at minimum standards. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that an email released by the Kansas Organization for State Employees says Larned State Hospital was inadequately staffed in all units Monday. The union says staffing is a continual problem for the hospital.  Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services Secretary Tim Keck says staffing did not fall below the minimum standards, but he says staffing levels fluctuate daily.  A union official says the department isn't doing enough, saying pay is too low and health insurance premiums are too high. Keck says nearly 30 percent of the hospital's jobs are vacant.


Anti-Gay Vandalism Found Outside Kansas State Student Union
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) - Kansas State University officials say an anti-gay slur was found outside the university's student union, the latest vandalism targeting diversity at the school. The offensive graffiti was found Monday and removed that afternoon. The anti-gay vandalism occurred the same week someone vandalized a temporary dwelling erected outside a residential complex for the Jewish harvest festival, Sukkot.  Pat Bosco, dean of students and vice president for student life, said campus police are investigating.  In September, white supremacist fliers were found on campus. And in May, a noose was found hanging from a tree on the campus.

Suspect Enters Plea in Deaths of 2 Kansas City-Area Women 

HARRISONVILLE, Mo. (AP) - A 29-year-old Missouri man who is charged in the deaths of two women who disappeared nearly a decade apart has pleaded not guilty. Kylr Yust of Kansas City entered the plea Tuesday. He is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of abandoning a corpse in the deaths of 21-year-old Jessica Runions, of Raymore, and 17-year-old Kara Kopetsky, of Belton. Runions disappeared in September 2016 after leaving a party with Yust. Kopetsky disappeared in May 2007, days after taking out an order of protection against Yust. The two women's remains were found in April in a wooded area in rural Cass County, Missouri. Yust is being held on $1 million bond. His next hearing date is set for December 28.


Lawsuit: Kansas School District Failed to Report Allegations Before Assault

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) - A lawsuit alleges that a boy sexually assaulted a girl at an Overland Park middle school after school officials failed to report previous allegations against the boy to law enforcement. The girl's father is suing the Shawnee Mission School District. The lawsuit filed in federal court alleges that the girl was assaulted "entirely against her will" earlier this year in a study hall classroom at Westridge Middle School. The suit says the boy's school records contain reports from three other female students about similar assaults and that none of them were reported to authorities. Several current and former school and district officials are named as defendants. 


Douglas County Sheriff: No Foul Play in Case of Body Found in Burning Car

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ Douglas County authorities say they do not suspect foul play was involved in the death of a man whose body was found in a burning car at a campsite near Clinton Lake. Lawrence Police Sergeant Kristen Channel says detectives have concluded their investigation. The body was found March 7 after a burning car was reported at the Rockhaven Campground. Firefighters found the body after the fire was extinguished.  At the time, the park was closed for the season.  Police say the body has been identified as a 45-year-old man from Independence, Missouri.  


Topeka Man Runs for 2nd District Congressional Seat

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A 25-year-old Topeka man is joining a crowded field of candidates seeking the nomination for the state's 2nd Congressional District.  Matt Bevens announced his candidacy Tuesday, saying he was a political outsider who would serve only six years if elected. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Blevins emphasized simplifying taxes, investing in infrastructure and education and preserving liberties. He also criticized tax cuts championed by Governor Sam Brownback and other Kansas conservatives.  Bevens only political experience is an unsuccessful bid for the Topeka City Council. He is an energy trader for Westar Energy.  Bevens joins Republicans Vernon Fields, Steve Fitzgerald, Antonio Soave and Caryn Tyson in the race. Democrats Paul Davis and Kelly Standley also are running to replace Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins, who is not seeking re-election.


Man Sentenced in Kidnapping of Kansas Woman Who Was Killed

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A Junction City man who participated in the kidnapping of a woman who was later killed has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.  U.S. Attorney Tom Beall says 33-year-old Christopher Pugh was sentenced Tuesday after he admitted that he helped kidnap 24-year-old Amanda Clemons in February 2014.  Pugh was among a group of people who kidnapped Clemons from a Junction City hotel and beat her, while demanding that she pay $300.  Clemons eventually was allowed to call her young son and mother and the mother called police. When police called Clemons, Pugh left the scene. Prosecutors say Clemons was taken to a remote bridge in Geary County and beaten, and eventually her throat was cut.  Three other people have been sentenced to jail and a fourth is awaiting sentencing.


Bob Dole Back Home After 3-Week Hospital Stay

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Former Republican presidential candidate and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole has returned home after being hospitalized for three weeks with low blood pressure.  Dole spokeswoman Marion Watkins said in an email Tuesday that the 94-year-old former Kansas senator was discharged  from the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center outside Washington, D.C. He was hospitalized September 13.  Dole tweeted that he's "happy to be home." He lives in the D.C. area.  The tweet continues, "Cheers to all the well-wishers, care givers and staff at Walter Reed," and bears a photo of him holding up a drink. Dole represented Kansas in Congress for 35 years. He left the Senate in 1996 for his campaign against President Bill Clinton. Congress recently voted to award him a Congressional Gold Medal.


Mississippi Man Accused in Shooting Caught in Topeka 

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Police in Topeka have captured a Mississippi man wanted in a Saturday shooting death. Police used a specially trained dog to find 27-year-old Travis Ray Conners in an attic Tuesday after getting a tip he was hiding there. Police in Meridian, Mississippi, say witnesses identified Conners as the man who shot Donnikia Clark in the face after an argument. Clark later died at a hospital. Conners is being held in the Shawnee County Jail. Police in Mississippi say Conners could be charged with manslaughter or murder depending on the investigation. Conners has indicated he will waive extradition and could be back in Mississippi by the weekend.

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