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Headlines for Monday, November 7, 2022



Kansas Officials Investigate Death of Runaway Foster Child

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (KNS) - A Kansas foster child died last week after running away from custody, stealing a car and getting into a car crash. The Kansas News Service reports that the foster child was under the care of Successful Dreams, an agency in the southeast Kansas town of Parsons. The 13-year-old was at a Halloween event, and as the child and agency staff were returning home, the child got away and stole a car. The car swerved into oncoming traffic and hit a semi-truck in Oklahoma. The child died days later from his injuries. The Department for Children and Families is investigating the incident, but would not comment further.  

(AP version)

Kansas Officials Investigate Death of Foster Child Who Fled

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas officials are investigating the death of a foster child who left a residential treatment facility, stole a truck and crashed into a semi-truck in Oklahoma last month. The state Department of Children and Families confirmed it is investigating what happened to determine if there were any regulatory violations at the facility the 13-year-old walked away from on October 27. The teen had gone to a Halloween party in Independence, Kansas, on the day of the crash that was sponsored by the residential treatment program where he was living in Parsons. Officials say the teen went to a car dealership and stole the truck before driving to Oklahoma. He died two days after the crash in a Tulsa hospital.


Kansas Fireworks Facility Goes Up in Flames

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Fireworks could be heard for miles after an early morning fire Sunday consumed a building with fireworks stored inside. KSNT reports that the fire broke out in a building along U.S. Highway 75 that's used to store fireworks.  Jackson County Sheriff Tim Morse says they received a call about the fire around 3:30 am. No one was in the building at the time and no injuries were reported. Authorities said the structure was a complete loss. The Kansas State Fire Marshal is now investigating the cause of the fire. Officials say the metal structure had been a fireworks provider for years.


High Schooler Killed in Mass Shooting at KCK Halloween Party Remembered at Vigil

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KC Star) - A crowd of about 150 people gathered for a candle light vigil Sunday outside New Story Church in Kansas City, Kansas. Six days earlier, about two miles north of the church, multiple people wearing costumes and masks entered a home where a Halloween party attended by nearly 100 high school students was underway. Before the night was over, a group of unwelcome guests had shot and killed 17-year-old Katron Harris, a senior at Turner High School.  The Kansas City Star reports that the shooting also injured half a dozen other teens. Harris was pronounced dead at the scene.

At school, Harris, known for his friendliness, served drinks to his peers at the school’s coffee shop. After school, they cheered him on as he played wide receiver and special teams receiver on the football team. At home, he was a big brother to his 14-year-old sister and 6-year-old brother. He loved to dance and sing with his cousins. Harris’s family said he spoke eagerly of his plans post-graduation. Harris hoped to launch his own t-shirt business, already in contact with printers and preparing merchandise.

On Thursday, 22-year-old Daijon Estell, was charged with first degree murder in Harris’s killing, as well as one count of aggravated assault, eight counts of child endangerment and two counts of aggravated child endangerment. At a news conference last week, Kansas City, Kansas, Police Chief Karl Oakman said detectives were searching for as many as six suspects — all of whom showed up disguised in costume for the event. The homeowner noticed the group was made of individuals older than the rest of the party-goers and asked them to leave, police have said. The suspects left the home, then sprayed the house with bullets. Students, mostly younger teens between 14-16 years old, were both inside and outside the home at the time, and several were shot.


Rare Total Lunar Eclipse to Appear Above Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Kansans looking to the sky in the predawn hours of November 8 may catch sight of a rare astronomical event sometimes referred to as a Blood Moon. KSNT reports that a total lunar eclipse will appear in the sky, which occurs when the full moon passes into the Earth’s umbral shadow, causing the moon to be blocked from direct sunlight. This causes the moon to glow a deep red color as red light is bent around Earth and reflected on the moon. The lunar eclipse will be visible starting late Monday night and leading into Tuesday morning. The full eclipse will begin at 4:16 am Tuesday with maximum eclipse occurring at 4:59 am. The full eclipse will end at 5:41 am. The next total lunar eclipse will not occur until March 29, 2025.


Powerball Jackpot Grows to Record $1.9 Billion

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A record Powerball jackpot grew to an even larger $1.9 billion after no one won the lottery jackpot drawing Saturday night. The numbers for the drawing were: white balls 28, 45, 53, 56, 69 and red Powerball 20. The next chance for someone to get lucky will be Monday night. The new $1.9 billion jackpot is for a winner who is paid through an annuity over 29 years. Winners of lottery jackpots usually prefer a lump sum of cash, which the Multi-State Lottery Association says would be $929.1 million for Monday's drawing. The odds of any given ticket winning the Powerball jackpot are 1 in 292.2 million. Those long odds have led to three months going by without anyone matching all six balls to win the top prize.


A Look at $1.9 Billion Powerball Jackpot and How It Grew So Large

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The estimated $1.9 billion Powerball jackpot is nearly $400 million larger than the previous record jackpot and will keep growing until someone finally wins the prize. The jackpot started at $20 million back on August 6 and over three winless months, has grown to be 95 times as large ahead of Monday night's drawing. That's a long time without a winner but this is how the game is designed. With odds of 1 in 292 million, that means it's unlikely anyone will win the prize until a growing jackpot attracts more players. And more ticket sales mean the lottery can raise more money for public programs, which is the point of the state lotteries.


Kansas City Man Charged with Murder in 96-Year-Old Woman’s Death

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KC Star) - A Kansas City man jailed over the summer in connection with a string of arson fires is now facing a murder charge in the death of 96-year-old Lorene Fickess. The Kansas City Star reports that her body was discovered in her Caldwell County home after firefighters were called to a blaze there in May. Caldwell County Sheriff Mitch Allen says 28-year-old Harold Edwards Jr. is now facing charges of first-degree murder; first- and second-degree burglary; evidence tampering; arson; abandonment of a corpse; and armed criminal action. Edwards also faces charges related to child pornography after investigators allegedly discovered images in his possession following his initial arrest. Many details about the case, including the alleged motive, have remained unanswered over the past six months as court records in Caldwell County, including charging documents, are not publicly accessible. But authorities have said Edwards is responsible for setting three fires that sent firefighters and law enforcement scrambling on the morning of May 10.


Kansas Deputies Find Man Hiding in Barn Wielding a Sword

SHAWNEE COUNTY (Salina Post) — Law enforcement authorities are investigating a Kansas man on multiple charges after getting a call about a suspicious person. According to the Salina Post, Shawnee County officials received a 911 call just after 4am Thursday about an unknown person with a flashlight near the caller’s barn on SW Auburn Road. When deputies arrived, they found a man later identified as 26-year-old Jonathan D. Veach, of Topeka, hiding under an ATV in the caller’s barn. Authorities say he was wielding a sword. After Veach refused to comply with commands, deputies seized the sword and attempted to arrest him. However, he continued to ignore commands and a taser was used to take him into custody. Veach was booked into the Shawnee County jail on charges of criminal trespass and interference with law enforcement.


Kansas Governor's Race Remains Too close to Call

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP/KPR) — Both parties see the governor's race as a tossup in Republican-leaning Kansas. The state leans Republican; it's a good Republican year, and GOP challenger Derek Schmidt has attacked Democratic incumbent Laura Kelly relentlessly as a Joe Biden liberal. Yet, abortion politics are one reason the contest is close. A decisive statewide vote in August affirming abortion rights boosted Kelly's chance of holding the independent and moderate Republicans crucial to her victory four years ago. But she's also stayed largely on a message that Kansas is back after past budget woes to counter Schmidt's attempts to tap voter frustration with inflation and crime. And an independent candidate could hurt Schmidt's chances by siphoning away conservative voters.


Small Kansas College Receives $500 Million Anonymous Gift

MCPHERSON, Kan. (AP/KPR) — An anonymous donor is pledging up to $500 million to a small liberal arts college in central Kansas. McPherson College officials announced the gift Friday. In May, California philanthropists Melanie and Richard Lundquist announced they were giving $25 million to the school's Building Community Campaign. Melanie Lundquist returned to the school Friday and said she had been authorized to speak on the anonymous donor's behalf. She also announced that she and her husband will increase their original donation to $50 million. The new donation is a double-match estate commitment. If the college raises $250 million by June 30, it will receive the donor's entire pledged $500 million, for a total of $750 million in donations.

College officials say the half-billion-dollar pledge is the single largest monetary commitment to a small liberal arts college in the United States. The anonymous donor will contribute two dollars for every dollar given by others, up to $500 million. The school has raised $130 million dollars so far. McPherson College is known for its automotive restoration technology degree program. Officials say the gift will allow the college to reimagine and reinvent its campus.


Midwest Wildfires Exhaust Volunteer Firefighters

UNDATED (HPM) - More than half of the U.S. is currently experiencing a drought and that means more wildfires.  Harvest Public Media reports that volunteer firefighters across the Midwest are especially feeling the pressure. It’s not unusual for wildfires to spark during the fall season, but the prolonged dry conditions are only making it worse. So far this year, wildfires have burned more than 7 million acres across the U.S.

Chip Redmond, a volunteer fire captain and meteorologist with Kansas Mesonet, says volunteer firefighters across the state are exhausted from putting out so many fires this past spring, summer, and now fall. “You have to get that enjoyment of being an aide to your community. If you don't get that anymore because you think it's too dangerous. You're just putting yourself at risk then it has a big impact," he said. Redmond says fire prevention efforts by the public go further than what a fire department can do. He says people can avoid fire risks by making sure their yards don’t overgrow or by driving through tall dry grass.

Volunteer firefighter Derek Rothe says he’s noticed the increase in wildfires first-hand in rural Iowa. He helped put out a 3,000-acre field fire late last month alongside a dozen other volunteer fire departments. He says busy wildfire seasons like this one can take a toll on volunteer fire fighters. “If you go and make every call, you're gonna' burn yourself out of how many hours that you can physically handle going and putting towards this," he said. Nearly 70% of fire departments are made up of volunteer firefighters.


Kansas Man Ordered to Pay $15 Million for National Insurance Fraud Scheme

PHILADELPHIA (WIBW) - A Kansas man has been ordered to pay more than $15.2 million for a national insurance fraud scheme. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania says that last week, the Honorable Mitchell S. Goldberg entered a default judgment against Timothy Warren, of Wichita, and his company Titan Medical Compliance. Warren was ordered to pay a total of $15,270,066 for violations of the False Claims Act. According to WIBW TV, this is the latest action in the national investigation into a scheme of improper billing involving electro-acupuncture devices. Federal healthcare programs do not reimburse for such devices. Prosecutors say Warren - a Wichita chiropractor - and his company, falsely promoted the acupuncture devices as reimbursable by Medicare and other federal insurers as approved by the Food and Drug Administration.  Prosecutors say Warren and his company knew that the devices were not reimbursable but continued to promote them regardless.

Prosecutors filed a complaint against Warren in October 2021 and have litigated the case ever since. The U.S. moved for default judgment after Warren’s counsel withdrew and the defendants failed to respond. Warren and his company are now responsible for penalties that total $15.2 million for causing about 1,200 claims to be falsely submitted for reimbursement to federal healthcare programs. (For more information about the judgment, click here.)


Kansas City Church Elder Sentenced to Life for Killing Pastor-Wife

OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A former elder in a Kansas City, Missouri, church has been sentenced to life in prison for killing his wife, who was an associate pastor. Robert Lee Harris's sentencing Thursday came after he was found guilty in August of first-degree murder in the death of 38-year-old Tanisha Harris. Police went to the couple's apartment in the suburb of Overland Park on January 8, 2018, to investigate a report of a domestic disturbance. Officers found Robert Harris alone in the apartment and left. His wife's body was found later near Raymore, Missouri. The couple, married just 18 months at the time of the killing, were active in Repairers Kansas City, a nondenominational church.


Wichita Searches for New School Superintendent

WICHITA, Kan. (KNS) - The Wichita school district is searching for a new superintendent. Alicia Thompson announced last week that she plans to retire at the end of this school year. Thompson has served as superintendent of the state's largest school district since 2017. School board member Sheril Logan says the board will begin public discussions Monday about the search process for finding a new leader. "The board respects her decision to retire, but she has huge shoes to fill," Logan said. Thompson graduated from Heights High School and started her career as a third-grade teacher in Wichita. She is the first Black woman to serve as superintendent of Wichita schools. During her tenure, Thompson guided the district through school closures and the transition to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Top Kansas Court Describes Abortion Mailer as Deceptive

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A mailer to voters across Kansas suggests that removing state Supreme Court justices in Tuesday's election would protect access to abortion. In fact, abortion rights advocates want to keep them on the bench. The return address on the mailer says it is from VMCF Inc., in the Kansas City suburb of Lenexa. State records show that for a brief time in October, that was the legal name of a charitable foundation run by the owner of a prominent Republican direct mail firm. Six of the Kansas Supreme Court's justices are on the ballot Tuesday for yes-or-no votes on whether they stay on the court for another six years.


Kansas Sees 36% Increase in Number of Abortions

WICHITA, Kan. (KNS) - A new report finds Kansas clinics saw a 36% rise in abortions in the months after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and many nearby states banned abortion. The Kansas News Service reports that could be pushing some Kansans to order abortion pills from overseas. The rise at Kansas clinics reflects the deep-red state’s unlikely role as an abortion refuge for women from across the Midwest and South. The report found it was the second-largest increase in the country. But clinics can’t keep up with the demand. Emily Wales, president of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, says that’s forcing some Kansans to go out of state to get care. “Every single day, we are telling patients about potential access to care in Illinois or New Mexico or Colorado," she said. A different report says more Kansans are now ordering abortion pills from overseas, side-stepping the state’s ban on prescribing the pills over telemedicine. Between April and August, orders from Kansas to the Dutch-run organization Aid Access doubled.

(AP version)

Kansas Abortion Clinic that Opened Days After Roe Decision Fell Is Inundated

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas abortion clinic that was among the first in the country to open after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade has been inundated with patients. Some drive 10 hours or more to get there, coming from Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and even Louisiana. But that's only if they can get an appointment. Planned Parenthood clinics in the state, including this newest one in Kansas City, Kansas, are only able to take about 10% to 15% of the patients seeking abortions. Kansas is one of the few states in the region still providing abortions in the wake of the court's ruling.


No. 5 Kansas Opens Season at Home Without Hall of Fame Coach Bill Self

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP/KPR) — Kansas coach Bill Self will be forced to watch the fifth-ranked Jayhawks open the season against Omaha from afar Monday night. Self and assistant Kurtis Townsend will be serving the first in a four-game suspension handed down by the school as part of an ongoing NCAA infractions cases with no end in sight. Norm Roberts, a longtime Kansas assistant who also was the head coach at St. John's, will be the acting head coach. Self is still allowed to work with the Jayhawks in practice, but he can't have any contact with the team on game day. Tip-off is set for 7 pm at Allen Field House.


Patrick Mahomes Helps KC Chiefs Rally Past Titans 20-17 in Overtime

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Patrick Mahomes ran for the tying touchdown and 2-point conversion late in the fourth quarter, Harrison Butker atoned for two earlier misses by kicking the go-ahead field goal in overtime, and the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Tennessee Titans 20-17. Mahomes was 43 of 68 for 446 yards with a touchdown and an interception, and Mecole Hardman also had a TD run, as the Chiefs rallied from a 17-9 deficit to beat the Titans for only the second time in seven meetings. Kansas City improved to 6-2 while the Titans fell to 5-3. Derrick Henry had 115 yards and two TDs rushing for Tennessee.


Derrick Henry keeps rewriting Titans history in loss to Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Derrick Henry was rumbling his way through the Kansas City Chiefs defense, and through the Titans history books, during a first half that went exactly the way Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel dreamed it would Sunday night. The second half was more like a nightmare. Henry was stuffed, backup quarterback Malik Willis struggled and the Chiefs rallied for a 20-17 victory in overtime. Henry finished with 115 yards rushing and two touchdowns, moving him into first place in franchise history with 74 career TD runs.


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.