Topeka House Explosion Tied to Storms
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An explosion that destroyed a Topeka home is being tied to a storm that blew through the area Thursday afternoon. Topeka Fire Marshall Michael Martin says that the home's three residents had evacuated the house about an hour before the explosion, after reporting a downed power line and the smell of natural gas. Martin says four people from a neighboring house were treated and released from the hospital for minor injuries. The fire department estimates the damage to the house and neighboring structures at more than $250,000.
Motion to Remove Judge from Topeka Double Murder Case Denied
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas woman whose convictions in the 2002 shooting deaths of her ex-husband and his fiancee were overturned has lost her bid to have her trial judge removed from the case. The Capital-Journal reports that a judge on Friday denied the request by Dana Chandler to remove Shawnee County Judge Nancy Parrish from future court hearings in Chandler's case. Shawnee County Judge Teresa Watson issued an order saying Chandler's request fell short of warranting appointment of a new judge. Parrish presided over Chandler's double murder trial and sentenced her to 100 years in prison for the 2002 killings of Michael Sisco and Karen Harkness. But the Kansas Supreme Court in April overturned Chandler's convictions, saying Shawnee County prosecutors falsely claimed that Sisco had taken out a protection from abuse order against Chandler before the killings.
Ex-Wichita Youth Pastor Pleads Guilty to Sex with Girl
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A former Wichita youth pastor has pleaded guilty to having sex with a 15-year-old girl while he worked at Word of Life Church. The Wichita Eagle reports that 48-year-old Chauncey Walker also served as a teacher and girls soccer coach at Word of Life when the abuse happened between 2012 and 2013. Investigators say he had sex with the girl at his home, his car, different hotels and in the church's youth building. Walker pleaded guilty Friday to aggravated indecent liberties with a child and aggravated indecent solicitation of a child. In exchange, other felony counts were dropped. He's expected to get nearly 8 years in prison when he's sentenced August 9th, but a judge could sentence him to up to nearly 24 years. The victim in Walker's case has filed a lawsuit against the church and its senior minister, seeking damages of more than $575,000.
Kansans Warned of West Nile Virus Danger
TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is warning Kansans to be on the lookout for the West Nile virus. The KDHE issued a high risk warning Friday for about half the state, including north-central Kansas. Northeast Kansas and the rest of the state is considered at moderate risk of West Nile. The KDHE says there have not been any infections reported yet this year, but are recommending prevention measures, including using mosquito repellant.
Kansan Falls Victim to Salmonella Outbreak
TOPEKA, Kan. (KPR) A Johnson County adult is one of about twenty people taken ill in a multi-state outbreak of salmonella. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment announced Friday that they are investigating the outbreak of salmonella sandiego, which has been tied to a pasta salad purchased at HyVee grocery stores in Kansas, Missouri, and several other states. HyVee removed the salad from its stores on July 16th. KDHE Chief Medical Officer Dr. Greg Lakin says the pasta salad should be thrown away or returned to HyVee for a refund.
Kansas Delays Launch of New License Plates
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials have delayed the launch date for its new vehicle plates. State officials said Friday that the original August 1st launch date for the license plates has been delayed until August 15th due to issues in the new digital processing equipment. Wichita's Center Industries will create the plates on demand using a digital printer that prints the tag information on a background, then bonds the background material to a metal plate. The plates were previously manufactured in bulk at a plant. Johnson County is concerned the new system will confuse people because it involves a new delivery method. The new plates will be mailed to the customer's home within 10-14 business days. This means license plate customers will leave the county office with a temporary plate and registration sticker until the permanent plate arrives.
Grand Opening Announced for Topeka Zoo Exhibit
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A zoo in Kansas will celebrate its 85th anniversary with a touch of Africa far from the continent. The Topeka Zoo on Friday announced the Camp Cowabunga grand opening will be August 31st. Spokeswoman Megan Burns says Camp Cowabunga, billed as "Bringing the Heart of Africa to the Heart of Topeka," is the first exhibit of the zoo's master plan —the beginning of a whole new zoo. The Topeka Zoo website says Camp Cowabunga will let guests participate in activities that take place on a safari or at a camp while being surrounded by animals. The $4.5 million exhibit is billed as the largest ever for the Topeka Zoo.
Lenexa Man Charged with Attempted Murder
TOPEKA, Kan (KPR) A Lenexa man has been arrested for attempted murder after a shooting in Blue Mound. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation said in a news release that the Linn County Sheriff's Department and several Kansas City-area police departments cooperated in the search for 35-year-old John Butler after the Friday afternoon shooting. After a car chase, Butler crashed his vehicle near Interstate 435 in Johnson County Saturday, fled on foot, and was apprehended. The KBI says the shooting victim is expected to survive.
Manhattan Man Convicted in May 2017 Shooting Death
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 39-year-old Manhattan man was convicted in the shooting death of one man and the attempted murder of another man. Steven Harris was convicted Thursday of second-degree murder in the death of 39-year-old German Gonzalez-Garcia. Prosecutors say Harris shot the two victims in May 2017 in Manhattan. German Gonzalez-Garcia died at the scene. The second victim, Adrian Ortega, was critically wounded. Harris was convicted of attempted second-degree murder in Ortega's death. Harris was arrested along with his girlfriend in Wichita four days after the shooting when they tried to check into a Wichita hotel. Harris had previously been convicted of attempted second-degree murder in Franklin County and was released from prison in 2015. He will be sentenced August 27th.
Trade Tensions Weigh on Economic Outlook for Rural States
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Weak economic growth is expected to continue in rural parts of ten Plains and Western states, but all the recent trade disputes may shrink profits. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says the new tariffs are hurting grain prices, which were already weak. The overall economic index for the region declined to 53.8 in July from June's 56.1. That score still suggests growth because it is above 50, while any score below 50 indicates a shrinking economy. Bankers from Kansas, Missouri, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed. The bankers say they're concerned about the ongoing trade tensions with China and the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. The confidence index fell to 42.7 in July from June's 48.8.
Carnival Workers Arrested in 2 Kansas Deaths
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A probable cause affidavit says a carnival worker admitted to killing a Kansas couple at a county fair. The suspect, Michael Fowler, told investigators that he shot Sonny and Pauline Carpenter of Wichita, Kansas, at the Barton County fair in Great Bend, Kansas. Investigators believe they were killed Friday. Their bodies were found Monday in a forest near Van Buren, Arkansas. The three suspects were arrested Tuesday in Van Buren According to the affidavit released Thursday, Fowler told Van Buren police that Rusty Frazier and Kimberly Younger, also known as Myrna Khan, were with him when the couple was killed. No charges have been filed in the Carpenters' deaths. The affidavit does not discuss a motive for the killings.
KU Rollout of Bike-Sharing Service a Success
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas says its new bike-share service has seen a booming start. So much so that more bikes will be added to the fleet this fall. KU's Center for Sustainability says in a new report that 12,000 rides totaling more than 5,000 miles have been taken by students and faculty since the April launch of VeoRide. The bike-share company was chosen from a pool of eight providers. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the university paid nothing upfront for the new program. Instead, VeoRide gets paid through rider memberships and passes, eliminating the need for a student fee. In April, the company distributed 180 bicycles throughout the KU campus. With the start of the upcoming fall semester, VeoRide plans to add 180 more bikes to its fleet.
Kansas Man Admits Going to Philippines for Child Porn
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man who admitted that he traveled to the Philippines to have sex with minor girls has pleaded guilty to three counts of producing child pornography. The U.S. Attorney's office says 55-year- old Anthony Shultz pleaded guilty Wednesday. He is scheduled to be sentenced in December. Prosecutors say Shultz, a helicopter pilot from Lindsborg, also admitted he videotaped sex acts with a 12-year-old and a 15-year- old and brought the videos back to Kansas. In one of the videos, Shultz is seen giving the 15-year-old money after having sex with her. Prosecutors say Schultz also produced child pornography using an 8-year-old Philippine girl over Skype with the cooperation of the girl's mother.