Saturday, July 26, 2014

Records: Ottawan found stuffed in fridge was killed over $800 drug debt

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Senior Writer | 6/23/2014

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Details about the death of a 33-year-old Ottawa man whose body was found stuffed in a refrigerator in spring 2012 near De Soto came to light Monday in U.S. District Court.

Tracy Rockers, 24, Greeley, admitted she was present Dec. 17, 2010, at a Eudora residence when drug traffickers killed Gregory Price for failing to pay drug debts and disposed of his body by hiding it in a refrigerator, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom’s office.

The Anderson County woman was sentenced Monday to 162 months in federal prison for taking part in a drug trafficking conspiracy that resulted in Price’s death, Grissom said in the release.

Rockers’ account of the Dec. 17 incident coincides with the last time Price’s mother had contact with her son, Price told The Herald in late April 2012. Elsie Kelly, an Ottawa resident at the time, said had been out of contact with her son since late December 2010, she said. He went missing just after he moved to Independence, Missouri, to find work, she said. Kelly, who reportedly has since moved away from Ottawa, could not be reached for comment Monday.

On Dec. 17, 2010, several drug traffickers confronted Price at a residence in Eudora about $800 they said he owed them, according to court documents. When Price refused to pay, the traffickers decided to take him to a rural location outside De Soto. They grabbed Price and attempted to pull him out the front door, but he resisted. Then they threw him into a door, causing him to collapse and begin “making gurgling noises,” according to court records. 

Rockers watched Price while the traffickers installed a camper shell on the back of a pickup they would use to transport Price, the federal prosecutor said in a news release. At some point, while lying on the floor, Price died, and traffickers put Price’s body inside a refrigerator and took it to the rural location near De Soto, the release said.

Johnson County Sheriff’s Office deputies, responding to a tip, discovered Price’s body April 19 along a tree line near K-10 and Kill Creek Road. A fingerprint match helped to identify the remains, which were badly deteriorated, according to media reports.

When she learned of her son’s death in April 2012, Kelly told the Herald she and others had ideas about who might have potentially killed her son and placed his body in the refrigerator.

“We have ideas, but we don’t know,” Kelly said. “We can’t accuse people we don’t know.”

But over the course of several months, the drug traffickers responsible for Price’s death became known to law enforcement officials who were investigating the methamphetamine ring.

In March 2010 the Gardner Police Department and the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office began investigating traffickers who were selling methamphetamine in Gardner, according to the federal prosecutor. In August 2011, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation identified Rockers as one of the traffickers. Working undercover, they made the first of several methamphetamine purchases from Rockers Aug. 24, 2011, in Eudora. Over a period of months, investigators identified more than a dozen traffickers, the federal prosecutor said.

Fourteen codefendants already have been sentenced to federal prison in the case, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. They are:

• Michael C. Redifer, 37, who was sentenced to 30 years.

• Steven M. Hohn, 34, Gardner, who was sentenced to 30 years.

• Michael C. Quick, 33, Eudora, who was sentenced to 20 years.

• Ronnie D. Morlean, 30, Olathe, who was sentenced to 216 months.

• Kerry Lee Randall, 43, who was sentenced to 180 months.

• Keith Arney, 29, Fulton, Missouri, who was sentenced to 173 months.

• Robert Baitey, III, 39, De Soto, who was sentenced to 150 months.

• Daniel Reynoso, 25, who was sentenced to 135 months.

• Gregory L. Renft, 40, who was sentenced to 120 months.

• Rebecca L. Zehring, 39, De Soto, who was sentenced to 105 months.

• Jordan R. Noble, 24, Eudora, who was sentenced to 60 months.

• Dustin Cook, 39, who was sentenced to 52 months.

• Danny Marlin, 42, who was sentenced to 48 months.

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