Sunday, July 27, 2014

Wife recalls wonderful father, friend after deaths

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Senior Writer | 5/17/2013

“Give the kids hugs for me, and tell them I love and miss them,” Steve White told his wife April 18.

It was the last time Randi White talked with her husband, she said.

“Give the kids hugs for me, and tell them I love and miss them,” Steve White told his wife April 18.

It was the last time Randi White talked with her husband, she said.

“He ended every single phone call the same way,” a smiling White said Friday as she sat in The Herald’s office talking about her husband, Steven Eugene White, 31, one of four victims of a quadruple homicide first reported May 6 at 3197 Georgia Road, west of Ottawa.

White, who had not granted an interview since the grisly discovery nearly two weeks ago, said she decided to break her silence because “there is so much love pouring out of this community for us, and I want everyone to get a good sense of the amazing man my husband was, in his own way.”

Though the Whites had separated in June 2011, they remained in regular contact, White said, adding her husband saw the children — Ashlynn, 6, and Austin, 3 — as often as he could.

“We met through a mutual friend in late 2007,” White said. “Ashlynn was just over a year old, and Steve took her as his own. She didn’t have a father figure in her life, and he stepped up.”

The couple dated for about 14 months, White said, before they eloped and were married March 2, 2009, in Miami, Okla. Their son, Austin, was born in November 2009.

“He’s a perfect mix of the two of us,” White said as she ran her hand through her blue-eyed son’s thick blond hair. “He’s got his dad’s face and ears — I see so much of Steve in him.”

Three bodies discovered May 6 and May 7 at 3197 Georgia Road in rural Franklin County were those of Kaylie Bailey, 21, Andrew Stout, 30, and Steven White. Bailey, along with her 18-month-old daughter, Lana Bailey, were reported missing May 3. Stout and White reportedly hadn’t been seen since late April.

Baby Lana was presumed dead though a body believed to be hers wasn’t recovered until about 10 p.m. May 11 in Osage County, Franklin County Sheriff Jeff Richards told reporters at a 1 a.m. May 12 press conference in front of his office at 305 S. Main St., Ottawa.

“What scares me so much is that Austin stayed the night before Easter with his dad at that [Georgia Road] house,” Randi White said. “Last year, the two of them (Austin and Ashlynn) stayed at that house every Saturday night — that was how we had set it up when they would visit their dad.”

White said allowing the kids to stay at the house didn’t give her reason for pause in the beginning.

“Steve moved into the house with Andrew the summer we separated,” she said. “Steve would never have let anything happen to the kids, and I trusted Andrew just as much. They saw him like an uncle. So, I knew they were safe out there.”

But White said she stopped letting her children stay at the Georgia Road home last year when four or five people started “crashing at the place” on a regular basis.

“Just recently, I told Steve they needed to watch who they were letting stay out there,” White said. “One reason I stopped letting the kids go out there [on Saturday nights] were the extra people going out there that I thought were doing things I didn’t want the kids around. It was sad for them and sad for him. He still got them on Saturday nights, just not at his house. We made other arrangements.”

Georgia Road house

White described the house where Stout and her husband lived as a “bachelor pad” where people would go to play video games and “drink beer.”

“The things single guys do,” she said.

Steve White and Stout were good friends, White said.

“Steve always called Andrew his ‘Little Buddy.’ He hardly ever said Andrew’s name,” White said. “I would ask him what he was doing, and he’d say, ‘Playing Frisbee golf with Little Buddy.’”

When the Whites still were living together, Stout would come over to the couple’s home to play board games one night every week, White said.

Stout was a giving person, White said, who always was helping people out.

“Steve had a bedroom and Andrew had a bedroom, but Andrew also had an extra room and a couch, and it was not unusual for someone to crash at the house for a couple of days,” White said of the Georgia Road house and 4.7-acre tract of land, which is owned by Stout’s mother, Karon Anderson of Galveston, Texas, according to the Franklin County Appraiser’s website. “If a guy lost a home, Andrew let him stay until he found another place. If a guy was fighting with his girlfriend, he could stay on his couch. That’s the kind of person Andrew was. He helped Steve out for quite awhile.”

Stout also helped out another individual, Kyle T. Flack, 27, according to some of Stout’s friends, who reported Flack had been staying at the modular home.

After the first two bodies were found May 6, authorities began searching for Flack, as well as a black 2007 Toyota Corolla he was driving that had last been seen with Bailey and her 18-month-old daughter at the farm. The vehicle was recovered 8:30 p.m. May 7 in Emporia. Flack later was taken into custody at about 2:30 a.m. May 8 in Emporia, where he had been held on an Osage County warrant for failure to register as a violent offender, Osage County Attorney Brandon Jones said.

Flack was arrested by Franklin County Sheriff’s officers May 9 in connection with the four murders, and the Franklin County Attorney’s office filed criminal charges May 10 against Flack, including 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. The two capital murder charges make Flack eligible for the death penalty. Flack remains in Franklin County Jail on $10 million bond, awaiting his next court appearance July 8.

Ashlynn, who will turn 7 on the Fourth of July, understands what has happened, White said.

“Ashlynn understands and knows a bad man took her daddy away, and she’s very angry,” White said. “Austin, being 3, doesn’t understand, but he knows daddy is not coming back.”

During a lighted balloon release at a May 10 nighttime vigil for the victims at Forest Park in Ottawa, White said Austin was told one of the balloons was for his father.

“Austin thought he was stuck in that balloon, and he said ‘Daddy needs to come down. I miss him, and want him to come home,’” White said.

White and her two children plan to seek family counseling at the Elizabeth Layton Center for Hope and Guidance in Ottawa, she said.

“I hope no other parent has to ever go through this — I wouldn’t wish this on anybody,” White said. “It took two days, but Ashlynn found a photo of Steve and her when she was about 2, and she broke down. I rocked my 6-year-old daughter for 20 minutes while she cried for her daddy.”

Ashlynn, who just finished first grade at Eugene Field Elementary School in Ottawa, is very bright, White said, adding that her husband enjoyed telling his friends about his daughter, whom he called “Sweetheart.”

Flack was a mystery

Randi White hadn’t really heard of Kyle Flack, she said.

“Steve never mentioned a Kyle to me at all,” White said. “I never met him, and I don’t know if the children did, but I hope they didn’t.”

The White killing occurred sometime between April 20 and April 28, according to the Franklin County Attorney’s Office. The other three killings reportedly happened between April 28 and May 6.

When her husband didn’t call after April 18, White said, she became concerned because he called regularly to check on the children.

“The detectives asked me when was the last time I had heard from Steve before April 18, and I looked through my phone for them and we had talked on the 17th, the 16th, the 15th — we literally spoke every day,” she said.

White said her husband, who did not have a driver’s license, had asked for a ride on April 18, and she wasn’t able to give him one.

“We didn’t really have an argument, but I didn’t think anything about it when he didn’t call me the first couple of days,” White said.

One of Steve White’s friends sent White a Facebook message around April 27 or April 28, asking if she had heard from Steve, White said.

“[The friend] said she was told by Kyle Flack that Steve had run away with another woman,” White said.

Though skeptical and angry, White said she thought maybe her husband found someone to live with temporarily because Stout had told everyone staying at the modular home in late March, including her husband, that “anyone that didn’t have a job by April 30 had to move out.”

“[Steve] was worried about not having a job, and we had talked extensively about that,” White said.

Friends of Stout had said in the hours after the bodies had been discovered and Flack was named as a “person of interest” in the case that they thought Stout’s plans to kick everyone out probably had not sat well with the Flack, who already had a violent past.

Flack was convicted in 2005 of intentional attempted murder in the second degree, according to Franklin County District Court documents. He was paroled in 2009 after serving less than four years for the May 2005 Ottawa shooting of Steven Dale Free, then-47. Free was found in the yard near a mobile home at Third and Cherry streets after being shot five times with a small caliber gun, Free’s sister, Stephanie Ingram, said. Free survived the incident, but died in December 2011.

Free had fired Flack from a job earlier on day of the shooting, Ingram told the Herald in a recent interview.

Motive for murder?

Flack could have been angry about having to leave, White said, but added she honestly didn’t know why her husband’s life was taken. She said his killer is the only person who could answer that question.

“I have heard that Flack hated Steve, for no good reason,” White said, “but I don’t know if that’s true or not. I’ve heard a lot of things, but it’s all just speculation at this point.”

White thinks Flack made up the story about her husband running away with another woman, she said.

“Even if Steve had done that, he still would have called to check on the kids,” White said.

When Stout was reported missing, White said she began to become even more worried.

“That whole time is just a blur,” White said. “I was walking around in a complete daze.”

White also mourns for Stout, Bailey and her daughter, Lana, she said.

“Andrew was settling down [after meeting Kaylie Bailey], and honestly I was very happy for him, because that’s what he’s always wanted to do,” White said.

White, who himself had a checkered past several years ago, was a changed man, his wife said.

“That was all in his past, and that wasn’t how Steve was when he was with me,” she said. “He had trouble finding jobs, because of some issues in his past.”

White said her husband worked in construction, and that he had recently helped remodel a house in north Ottawa.

“He was so proud of that house — he put in the hardwood floors and the granite counter tops,” White said. “He would call me and ask me and the kids to come over and look at the house to see what he had done. Steve always felt good when he was working and being productive.”

White said she stayed off Facebook in the days after the bodies were found — and after receiving confirmation May 8 that her husband was one of the victims — because she didn’t want to see what bad things people might be saying.

“His kids were his life,” White said of her husband. “Even though we did not live together in the end — we had a few things that we could not deal with — we were in the very, very beginnings of fixing things. We had spoken about going to counseling.”

She said Steve tried hard to find work, and had worked last summer at Sonic Drive-In in Ottawa.

“He would walk to work every day in the heat from Georgia Road to Sonic,” White said. “My birthday is in June, and on my birthday last year he picked wildflowers along the side of the road while he was walking to Sonic. He brought them to me before he went to work, and I still have them.”

The children still have toys and clothes at the home on Georgia Road, which White said she hopes to recover some day when the investigation is completed, along with Hot Wheels cars she said Steve was collecting for Austin.

“On Sunday, we are going to Build a Bear,” White said. “The kids get to put the hearts in the bears while they are being made. We are going to say a prayer for Daddy over the bears and put glitter in with the hearts. They are going to have Daddy Bears to keep, and I hope that helps.”

The graveside funeral for White will be 2 p.m. Tuesday at Highland Cemetery, Ottawa. The family plans to meet with friends 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday at Lamb-Roberts Funeral Home, 325 S. Hickory St., Ottawa.

“I didn’t expect half of what people are doing for us right now,” White, a 2001 graduate of Ottawa High School, said. “I’m totally proud to be an Ottawan.”

White is hopeful the family will have some closure on Tuesday, after waiting weeks to put her husband and the children’s father to rest, she said. The headstone will show that Steve died May 6, White said, only because authorities still haven’t determined what day he actually died.

For White, one of the most difficult things for her is knowing Steve will not walk Ashlynn down the aisle when she gets married, she said, and he won’t see Austin play football.

“I just want people to know he was not the person that they think they see,” White said. “Steve was so many layers on the inside. He was a wonderful father, a great husband ... and a wonderful friend.”

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