Saturday, December 20, 2014

2013 TOP STORY NO. 1: Quadruple homicide

By The Herald Staff | 12/30/2013

A surly Kyle Trevor Flack, clad in an orange-striped jumpsuit and scruffy beard, rolled his eyes and gazed around the courtroom May 10 as District Judge Eric Godderz read the capital murder and rape charges against the 28-year-old Ottawa man in connection with a quadruple homicide in rural Ottawa that rocked the community and made headlines across the region.

The quadruple homicide is The Herald’s top story of 2013 and also is the reader’s choice as the most important story of the year, according to a poll on the newspaper’s website, www.ottawaherald.com. The case drew regional TV and newspaper coverage, as well as garnered national attention.

A surly Kyle Trevor Flack, clad in an orange-striped jumpsuit and scruffy beard, rolled his eyes and gazed around the courtroom May 10 as District Judge Eric Godderz read the capital murder and rape charges against the 28-year-old Ottawa man in connection with a quadruple homicide in rural Ottawa that rocked the community and made headlines across the region.

The quadruple homicide is The Herald’s top story of 2013 and also is the reader’s choice as the most important story of the year, according to a poll on the newspaper’s website, www.ottawaherald.com. The case drew regional TV and newspaper coverage, as well as garnered national attention.

If Flack’s case ultimately goes to a jury trial, the courtroom showdown likely is still months down the road.

An investigation began May 6 after individuals who said they were friends of Andrew Stout, who had not been seen for days, went to his home at 3197 Georgia Road and called 911 at 12:16 p.m. after they discovered a woman’s body hidden under a tarp in the detached garage. Staff from the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Ottawa Police Department and Kansas Highway Patrol began the initial investigation. The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Unit responded to the Georgia Road property to assist in processing the crime scene.

Investigators subsequently discovered two more adult bodies inside the modular residence over the course of the next day. On May 8, authorities identified the three bodies discovered May 6 and May 7 as those of Kaylie Bailey, 21, Steven White, 31, and Stout, 30. 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.

The Major Case Squad, known as the M-Squad, was activated May 8 to assist the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office. The squad included more than 40 detectives from numerous area law enforcement agencies.

The search for baby Lana’s body involved hundreds of law enforcement officers and volunteers, some on horseback, who had the daunting task of looking for the child’s body from the Georgia Road property to Emporia, where Kaylie Bailey’s 2007 black Toyota Corolla, in which she and her daughter were last seen, was found unoccupied 8:30 p.m. May 8.

Baby Lana’s body was recovered about dusk May 11 in Osage County by an Osage County Sheriff’s deputy, Jeff Richards, Franklin County sheriff, told reporters during a 1 a.m. May 12 press conference in front of his office at 305 S. Main St., Ottawa. The deputy later was identified as Blake Reker.

Flack was arrested by Franklin County Sheriff’s officers May 9 in connection with the four murders, and Stephen Hunting, Franklin County attorney, 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. Sheriff Richards, other law enforcement officials and prosecutors have declined to discuss details of the case in the months since the homicides, other than to confirm a firearm was used in the commission of the crimes.

Flack was convicted in 2005 of intentional attempted murder in the second degree after he plead no contest to the charge in the May 2005 shooting of Steven Dale Free, then-47, according to district court documents. He was sentenced to 59 months in that crime and was paroled in 2009 after serving less than four years in prison.

Vic Braden, the state’s deputy attorney general, is leading the prosecution team, at the request of county attorney Hunting, as Franklin County prosecutors looked to draw upon the additional resources of the state attorney general’s office in prosecuting the case.

During a series of status conferences in the months since Flack’s first court appearance May 10, prosecutors have been granted two motions for consumptive DNA testing of items collected as evidence in a quadruple homicide case by Franklin County District Judge Thomas H. Sachse, who is presiding over the case.

Ronald Evans, Flack’s court-appointed attorney, has objected to any DNA testing that would consume an item, leaving the defense unable to do testing of its own, he said. Evans is head of the Kansas Death Penalty Defense Unit in Topeka.

The case will continue to be a major story in 2014. Flack’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. March 11, 2014. If Judge Sachse finds at that hearing there is sufficient evidence to hold Flack for trial, the case would move forward. A jury trial likely would still be months ahead.

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