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Weekend Headlines for October 14-15, 2017

Baxter Springs Man Charged with Murder in Burning Death

BAXTER SPRINGS, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas prosecutor has filed first-degree murder and other charges against a man suspected of fatally burning a woman and injuring two police officers during a
confrontation. Cherokee County Attorney Jake Conard's office says 49-year-old Harvey Raymond Ortberg is accused of dousing 65-year-old Sharon Horn with gasoline and setting her on fire September 30th at her Baxter Springs home. She later died at a Springfield, Missouri, hospital. Other charges include burglary, arson and the attempted murder of two responding officers, who also were burned during the confrontation. Missouri and Kansas officials couldn't immediately confirm whether Ortberg has an attorney. Once he's released from the Springfield, Missouri, hospital and extradited to Kansas, he'll be held on a $1 million bond. He faces life in prison without the possibility of parole for at least 50 years.


Dispute Arises from Gas Leaks from Kansas Wells

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Regulatory filings show natural gas is leaking through unplugged abandoned wells that have penetrated a massive underground storage field in Kansas. It is creating a public safety hazard amid a dispute over whose responsibility it is to fix the problem. Northern Natural Gas Co. told federal regulators in a filing this week that the Kansas Corporation Commission "has sat on its hands with full knowledge of the risk." The Kansas agency filed a motion last month with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in Washington, D.C., seeking an order forcing Northern Natural to keep its storage gas from escaping through the wells. But Northern contends Kansas law requires well owners to plug the abandoned wells. Northern owns the Cunningham Storage Field spanning Pratt, Kingman and Reno counties.


Man Convicted in Wreck County Commissioner Fatality

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas man has been convicted of manslaughter in the drunk-driving crash that killed a western Missouri county commissioner. Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley on Friday announced the conviction of 30-year-old Wesley Michael Hays of Pleasanton, Kansas. He was also convicted of second-degree assault and failing to keep on the right side of the roadway in the 2014 wreck that killed Bates County Commissioner Larry Berry. Sentencing will be December 7th. Hays could face up to life in prison. The case was tried by the Attorney General's office. Jurors were told that Hays consumed 10 alcoholic drinks before driving his GMC Sierra that crossed the center line on Route A near Hume, Missouri, striking Berry's Ford Taurus. Berry's 20-year-old son was injured.


KCK Man Imprisoned for 1994 Murders Freed

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A man who served 23 years in prison for a double murder in Kansas City, Kansas, walked out of court a free man, after charges in the case were dismissed. Lamonte McIntyre was freed Friday after Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark Dupree Sr. announced the county would no longer contest McIntyre's innocence. The decision came on the second day of what was expected to be a weeklong hearing to reconsider McIntyre's conviction in the 1994 shooting deaths of two cousins in Kansas City, Kansas. McIntyre, 41, walked out of the courthouse late Friday afternoon and greeted his mother and other joyful supporters. He was 17 when the homicides occurred. A key witness to the homicides recanted her testimony, saying she was pressured to accuse McIntyre. Others testified that investigators ignored witnesses who said McIntyre was the wrong suspect and never connected him to the victims or the site where they were killed.


Concerns about Residential Psych Treatment for Foster Kids

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Lawmakers and youth advocates are raising concerns that foster children are suffering from a sharp reduction in psychiatric residential treatment facilities and shorter stays in them. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the number of such facilities dropped from 17 to 8 from 2011 to this August, while the available beds shrank 65 percent. The data was provided Tuesday to an oversight panel at the Statehouse. Foster care contractors say waits for admission ranged from two weeks to more than a month, depending on the child's sex and level of need. The average stay also is shorter. Foster care contractor St. Francis says it's dropped to 45 days now from 120 in 2011. Democratic Senator Laura Kelly, of Topeka, says children "may well need months of safety, security and treatment."


Kansas Looks at Alert System for Missing Foster Children

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas lawmaker is pushing for new procedures for responding when children in foster care go missing. Foster care contractors revealed this week that more than seventy foster children are currently missing in Kansas. The report was in response to question about the August disappearance of three sisters from a Tonganoxie foster home. Officials say the number amounts to about one percent of the state's foster children, a rate in line with the national average. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that Democratic Senator Laura Kelly said Thursday there needs to be a system similar to an Amber Alert that would prompt an immediate search. Foster care officials say they file monthly reports with the Department for Children and Families on missing foster children. Kelly says that's not enough.


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