Thursday, August 28, 2014

Investigation taking toll on sheriff’s office

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Senior Writer | 5/13/2013

A quiet stillness fell over a group of law enforcement officers about 10 p.m. Saturday in rural Osage County.

They had discovered the remains of a toddler who authorities believed to be 18-month-old Lana Bailey, the fourth victim of a grisly homicide discovered May 6 at 3197 Georgia Road, west of Ottawa.

A quiet stillness fell over a group of law enforcement officers about 10 p.m. Saturday in rural Osage County.

They had discovered the remains of a toddler who authorities believed to be 18-month-old Lana Bailey, the fourth victim of a grisly homicide discovered May 6 at 3197 Georgia Road, west of Ottawa.

“Death is always tough. And as much as you think you’re prepared for it, the death of an 18-month-old takes a toll on you,” Franklin County Sheriff Jeff Richards said Monday afternoon. “Everyone was very quiet [when the remains were discovered]. It was a solemn moment.”

Richards said the discovery was the culmination of an exhausting week for officers in his department, as well as those from the numerous law enforcement agencies that had been involved in a massive search for the missing toddler after three adult bodies were discovered May 6 and May 7 on the Georgia Road property.

“Everyone was working extra shifts,” Richards said of the 64 men and women in his department. “Even on their days off, they were coming in to man the phones, investigate leads and help with the search.”

“So, this was hard on everyone,” Richards said, who added that many of the people involved in the massive search were parents themselves.  

The intense investigation and exhaustive search also took a toll on the sheriff. Richards said he worked 38 hours over a two-day span when the bodies were first discovered, and then pulled another 30-hour shift after a brief rest. The sheriff looked tired but more relaxed Monday afternoon than he had in several days.  

Everyone is “holding up well,” Richards said of himself and his staff.

Another court date

The bodies discovered Monday and Tuesday were those of Lana’s mother, Kaylie Bailey, 21, Andrew Stout, 30, and Steven White, 31, Richards told reporters Wednesday during a press conference. Kaylie Bailey and her daughter were reported missing May 3. Stout and White reportedly hadn’t been seen since April 25.

Kyle Flack, the 27-year-old man who stands accused of the killings, made his first court appearance with his Topeka defense attorney Ronald Evans at 1:30 p.m. Monday in Franklin County District Court, 301 S. Main St., Ottawa. He is charged with two counts of capital murder, four counts of murder in the first degree, one count of rape and one count of criminal possession of a firearm. Stephen Hunting, Franklin County attorney, filed the charges against Flack Friday afternoon. The capital murder charges are eligible for the death penalty. Hunting said Friday he has not yet made a determination if he would seek the death penalty if Flack was convicted of the capital murder crimes.

Flack had been living in a modular home on the property with Stout and White. Kaylie Bailey and Stout were said to be in a relationship.

On Monday, District Judge Thomas Sachse set Flack’s next court appearance — a status conference — for 1:15 p.m. July 8 in the west courtroom in the Franklin County District Court building. The judge said the date for Flack’s preliminary examination would be set at the status conference.

Deputy’s initiative

On the last scheduled day of the massive search — with more than 150 law enforcement officers scouring the countryside — an Osage County deputy was conducting a search in rural Osage County about 6 p.m. Saturday when he discovered some items that he thought were related to the homicide investigation, Richards told reporters at a press conference Sunday afternoon in front of his office at 305 S. Main St., Ottawa.

“We were contacted, and we sent a team of investigators out to that location, and we confirmed that the items that were located there were believed to be connected to a the homicide case,” Richards said. “A follow-up search was done in that area and about 10 p.m. we discovered and recovered a body that we believe to be that of Lana Leigh Bailey.”

The deputy was searching an area in Osage County where he is responsible for paroling, because he thought that should be a targeted area, Richards said.

“We didn’t have any tips or anything that led us there,” Richards said. “This was an initiative of a deputy and is good police work. And he recovered some items.”

Richards declined to identify the deputy, the items he collected or the location where the remains were found.

“Anything that we find out there is going to be considered evidence and it is an ongoing investigation,” the sheriff said Sunday. “Those things will come up in court, and right now I can’t discuss what [items the deputy found]. This was just good police work by a sheriff’s deputy.”

Laurie Dunn, Osage County sheriff, also declined to identify the deputy Monday, nor would she give the location where the remains were discovered. The Franklin County and Osage County sheriffs were identifying the site simply as “rural Osage County.”

Though she wouldn’t identify the deputy, Dunn said he would be receiving a commendation.

Seeking closure

Richards said Monday afternoon he had not yet received a positive identification for the remains.

“We’re still waiting for the definitive results from forensics,” he said.

Richards said Sunday the discovery of what is presumed to be Lana’s remains has brought some closure for the family and the men and women who were on the search teams.

“It means a lot to the family,” Richards said. “They need to have this so they can move on. They can’t deal with something as long as they don’t have any type of closure. This helps to bring some closure to them.

“It also helps to bring closure to all this investigative team. This is something that has been mentioned before,” Richards said. “This is personal for all of us as well. Any type of crime such as this takes an emotional toll — especially when it’s a child.”

The sheriff said the investigative team needed to find Lana to achieve closure and move on to the next aspect of the investigation.

Richards said Monday afternoon the law enforcement probe of the case would continue.

“We need to continue to follow up on all the tips we have received,” Richards said, adding that as of Saturday the department had received more than 400 tips. “Just because we have charged someone with the crime, that doesn’t mean the investigation ends. We need to make sure we are looking into every lead.”

Authorities have not mentioned any other suspects in the case, and Richards said Monday he would not discuss the cause of death, a possible motive or any of the evidence collected in the case. He declined to discuss if Flack was being held in solitary confinement or was on suicide watch at the Franklin County Jail.

“All I will say is that he is in our jail,” Richards said.

While Richards declined to discuss Flack, he did offer one more comment Monday afternoon about the investigators who recovered the child’s remains Saturday night.

“When we were finished, everyone wanted to hurry home and hug their kids,” he said.

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