Butler  County,  Kansas


A suspect was taken into custody overnight in the shooting death of a 35 year old Douglass man whose body was found in a farmhouse south of Douglass about 4:15 p.m. Tuesday, Butler County Sheriff Dave Williams said.

The body of Lawrence Hay was found by his girlfriend, Rebecca Laughlin, who Williams said lived with Hay. The suspect was being questioned, but Williams said he could not release a name because no charges have been filed in the case.

Williams said a "large type" gun was used to shoot Hay in the head. He said the weapon, which has yet to be recovered, was "not a handgun." No motive has been established in the shooting which Williams said would have had to have occurred sometime between 1:15 p.m. and 4:15 p.m. Tuesday. He said the man was unemployed. (El Dorado Times, Wednesday, December 22, 1982)


No new developments have been reported in the shooting of a 35 year old Douglass man who was discovered with a bullet wound to the head about 4:15 p.m. Tuesday, according to Butler County Undersheriff Ron Morrison.

Morrison said a suspect who was taken into custody late Tuesday was still in custody this morning and said the department is continuing its investigation into the death of Lawrence Hay who died sometime between 1:15 and 4:15 p.m. Tuesday at a farmhouse south of Douglass. Hay's girlfriend, Rebecca Laughlin, who Butler County Sheriff Dave Williams said lived with Hay, discovered his body.

Williams said Wednesday that a "large-type" gun was used in the shooting and said the weapon was "not a handgun." He said no motive has been established in the case and no charges have been filed. Williams said Hay was unemployed.

The Tuesday killing was the third in two months in Butler County. Nov. 30, Amanda Nichole Potter died and her stepfather, Kelly G. Sawyer, El Dorado, was arrested and charged with the murder of the nine month old infant. Sawyer will be arraigned on second degree murder charges Jan. 3.

The second murder reported in the county was Nov. 8 when Kay Gordin, El Dorado, was found with a bullet wound to the head in her car northwest of El Dorado. No suspects have been found in the Gordin case.

Butler County recorded its first murder of the year April 19 when Butler County Sheriff's Sgt. Tom Wolf was killed in Towanda by a rampaging semi driven by Johnny Lee Huddleston, 31, Decatur, Texas. Huddleston has since been convicted of involuntary manslaughter and is currently serving a prison sentence at the Kansas State Penitentary in Lansing. (El Dorado Times, Thursday, December 23, 1982)


A 34 year old El Dorado man charged with the first degree murder in the shooting death of a 35 year old Douglass man last December has been found competent to stand trial.

Jack Pursley appeared before Butler County District Court Judge Page Benson at a competency hearing yesterday. Judge Benson set a preliminary hearing date of 1:15 p.m. April 27.
Pursley was arrested Dec. 21 at a location in El Dorado where he was staying. The arrest followed the shotgun death of Lawrence Hay, who was found about 4:15 p.m. that day by his girlfriend in a farmhouse south of Douglass.

County Attorney Bill Ronan said Pursley's attorney, Charles O'Hara of Wichita, had earlier asked that a determination of Pursley's competency be made. State and defense attorneys were then given 60 days in which to have Pursley examined and have reports in.

That period expired March 25, Ronan said, at which time the date for yesterday's competency hearing was set.

Pursley remains in custody at the Butler County Jail. (El Dorado Times, Thursday, April 7, 1983)


A 43 year old Towanda woman was found dead in the living room of her home about 4 a.m. today. The Butler County Sheriff's Department is treating her death as a homicide at the present time.

The woman was identified by Capt. Larry Cody of the sheriff's department as Barbara Johnston of 313 S. Third in Towanda. Cody said discovery of the body was made by her ex-husband, Randy Johnston.

Cause of death was not immediately known. An autopsy was being performed this morning. The death is the first to be investigated as a homicide by the Butler County Sheriff's Department this year. (El Dorado Times, Thursday, March 24, 1983)


Charges of second degree murder were to be filed this morning against a 31 year old Towanda man in the death of his 43 year old ex-wife.

Randall Johnston was scheduled to have his first court appearance at 1:30 p.m. today in Butler County District Court, at which time a date for a preliminary hearing will be set. County Attorney Bill Ronan said by law a preliminary hearing must be scheduled for within 10 days from the first court appearance.

Barbara Johnston was found dead in the living room of her home at 313 S. Third in Towanda about 4 a.m. Thursday. Sheriff's investigators said yesterday discovery of the body was made by Randall Johnston.

Ronan said this morning Johnston was arrested at the home, which he said was also Johnston's address, shortly after officers were called to the scene. He added from investigations it appeared Barbara Johnston died sometime between 8 p.m. Wednesday and 4 a.m. Thursday. (El Dorado Times, Friday, March 25, 1983)


Barbara Lee Johnston, 43, Towanda, died Thursday at her home. Funeral services are scheduled for 2 p.m. today at the Campbell Funeral Home, Eureka. Burial will be in Greenwood Cemetery.

Mrs. Johnston was born Nov. 17, 1939 at Wichita, the daughter of Volney and Virgie Mock Norman. Survivors include her parents, one son, Rodney Robert, Leon; two daughters, Dalinda Brecheisen and Monica Farrar, both of El Dorado and three grandchildren. (El Dorado Times, Friday, March 25, 1983)


A 1:30 p.m. Monday, April 4, preliminary hearing date was set yesterday afternoon for a 31 year old Towanda man charged with second degree murder in the death of his ex-wife.

Bond was also set at $75,000 for Randall Johnston. Butler County District Court Judge Mike Jaworsky agreed with the recommendation by County Attorney Bill Ronan, who suggested the figure "based on the seriousness" of the charge.

Johnston is charged in the death of Barbara Johnston, 43, who was found dead about 4 a.m. Thursday in the living room of her home at 313 S. Third in Towanda.

Wearing blue denim jail clothes and slippers, the stockily built, sand-haired Johnston was brought to the courtoom by three members of the Butler County Sheriff's Department. He stood with one hand on the courtroom table and the other behind his back as he responded to questions from Judge Jaworsky.

Johnston said he understood the charge against him and did not deed the judge to go through it with him. He said he did not currently have an attorney and could not afford one. He was given a paper to fill out to seek to have an attorney appointed for him.

Johnston said he was currently unable to post bond. He was returned by Judge Jaworsky to the custody of the sheriff's department. (El Dorado Times, Saturday, March 26, 1983)


Randall Johnston was found hanged this morning in his Butler County Jail cell.

Johnston who last Friday had been charged with second-degree murder in the death of his ex-wife, Barbara, is reported to have suspended four socks from a crossbar seven to eight feet from his cell floor to take his life. The socks were wound together, making a rope.

Butler County Undersheriff Ron Morrison said Jailer Mike Miller found Johnston reading a paperback book during his hourly check of cells around 6 a.m. but found him dead just before 7.

Morrison said Johnston left a four page pencil written note directed primarily to his father, Ed Cox, of Augusta. Sheriff Dave Williams said the note indicated no remorse and that Johnston had planned taking his life since the time he'd been brought in, but declined to discuss its contents further.

Morrison said Johnston had been no problem as a prisoner. He said the County Deputy Coroner, Dr. Ron Varner, had not scheduled an autopsy in the apparent suicide, but is planning a blood screen to determine whether Johnston had any drugs in his body.

A preliminary hearing had been set for Johnston for Monday, April 4, to determine whether the state had enough evidence to take him to trial in his ex-wife's death. His bond had been set at $75,000.

Morrison said Johnston was found wearing his regular jail clothe s- short-sleeve shirt and elastic band pants. He said it is not unusual for prisoners to have two pairs of socks at a time.

Kansas Bureau of Investigation agents arrived in El Dorado from Wichita around 8 this morning to make their examinations of Johnston's death.

Barbara Johnston was found dead last Thursday at the Towanda home she shared with Randall. Sheriff's Captain Larry Cody said the 43 year old woman and 31 year old man were divorced last June and had lived together again since last December. (El Dorado Times, Tuesday, March 30, 1983)


A 61 year old Augusta man was struck and killed by a freight train about 4:03 p.m. Monday, sheriff's officers said. The man, who was identified as Loren Kelley, was killed on tracks near the dyke in Augusta where he was apparently walking to visit friends near the dyke, Deputy Sheriff Phil Wickwire said.

He was going over to the dyke wall which is located in that area when he saw some of his friends over there drinking, Wickwire said. He couldn't negotiate the tracks fast enough to get out of the way of the train, he added. Wickwire said samples of Kelley's blood have been sent to a laboratory for tests to determine if he was intoxicated when the accident occurred. Wickwire said he believed Kelley was intoxicated.

The group of people Kelley was apparently going to visit is a group thought by the police to be alcoholics, according to Wickwire. They meet every day and drink each other's whiskey until it's gone, Wickwire said. Wickwire added that Kelley didn't always run with these people, and said it remains a mystery why he was going to visit them Tuesday.

Of the group, which Wickwire said includes people of all ages, he said, They're pretty much quiet people. The younger ones occasionally get stirred up, but it's nothing serious. (El Dorado Times, Wednesday, December 22, 1982)


A 62 year old El Dorado man was one of four men who were badly burned when a flash fire raced through a tank at an oil field near Dexter in rural Cowley County yesterday afternoon. The fire also killed one man.

Cowley County Sheriff Fred Satterthwaite said this morning it has been determined the fire was caused by someone lighting a cigarette in the tank, in which there was some gas residue.

C. D. Dunbar, 807 McCollum was admitted to the burn unit of St. Francis Regional Medical Center in Wichita. He was listed in critical condition this morning with third degree burns over 46 percent of his body.

Mervin Crow, 54, of Dexter, died in the fire, Satterthwaite said.

Also admitted to the burn unit were Charles Hull, 50, of Winfield, and James Hull, 24 of Arkansas City. The elder Hull was in critical condition while the younger Hull was in serious condition.

William D. Prince, 23, of Winfield was hospitalized in stable condition in Winfield.

The sheriff said the fire began about 5:40 p.m. in a gun barrel, a tank used to separate water from oil.

The tank was part of Dunbar's oil field in rural Cowley County about five miles southeast of Dexter.

Dunbar is the founder of Dunbar and Son Oil, Dunbar and Son Oil Enterprise and Dunbar Tank Lining Service. (El Dorado Times, Wednesday, December 22, 1982)


A 23 year old El Dorado man was stabbed apparently late last night or early this morning and was undergoing surgery at Susan B. Allen Memorial Hospital late this morning.

El Dorado Department of Public Safety officers reported that Lance M. Coots, 204 N. Denver, was found about 7 a.m. today at the corner of Park and Shelden by a citizen who phone the EDPS. According to Lieut. John Wright, two suspects are in custody awaiting state warrants. He said names of the two could not be revealed.

Wright said no motive has been established in the case and said the department is not sure where the stabbing took place. Sally Hickman, an emergency room nurse at the El Dorado hospital said no condition report was available on Coots who was in surgery at 10:15 a.m. today. (El Dorado Times, Friday, December 24, 1982)


The body of C. H. Rice, a member of the Augusta Police department was found about 2 o'clock yesterday afternoon in a pasture 10 miles southwest of El Dorado. Mr. Rice who was about 60 years old, had been on a coyote hunt with five companions.

Dr. N. H. Overholser, Butler county coroner, was called to examine the body and he reported that death occurred from a heart attack.

The body was found lying face downward in the snow.

Mr. Rice and five other Augustans started on the hunt about 9 o'clock yesterday morning. When the men returned to Augusta it was discovered that Mr. Rice was missing. The hunters, Glenn Leistky, Walter Whitlock, Dale Murphy, Harley Royce and Frank Davis started a search for him.

Mr. Rice had left the car, driven by Mr. Leistky about 10 o'clock with some hunting dogs. He was to rejoin the others later. During the hung, however, the men became separated and returned to Augusta in different automobiles.

The Dunsford Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. (El Dorado Times, Wednesday, January 19, 1947)


Wellington, April 30 - Olevia Wynn, widow of slain Kenneth Wynn, was called as a defense witness today in third murder trial of George Neff, 46, Perth, Kansas, farmer.

Mrs. Wynn, a key witness for the state in two previous trials ending with hung juries, was not called by the state this time.

Only three state witnesses testified. The state rested yesterday immediately after reading into the record Neff's confession to two killings. (El Dorado Times, Saturday, April 30, 1949)


Wellington, May 6, - The jury in the murder trial of George Neff was in its third day of deliberations today without having come to a decision as to whether the Perth, Kans., farmer is guilty of the charges he poisoned his wife, and shot to death his brother-in-law, Kenneth Wynn.

The jury was recessed yesterday after more than seven hours of deliberations on the case which also include the reading of Neff's testimony repudiating his confession of the crimes.

The state says Neff killed the two victims for love of Wynn's wife Olevia in a brutal climax to a 22 year illicit romance.

Two previous juries were unable to reach a verdict. Conviction will mean death by hanging, or life imprisonment as the jury chooses. (El Dorado Times, Friday, May 6, 1949)


Perth Farmer Convicted on Charge of Slaying Brother-In-law, Kenneth Wynn

Was Third Trial

Jury Reports It is Hopelessly Deadlocked on Charge Neff Killed His Wife

Wellington, May 7 - The jury trying George Neff at Wellington today returned a verdict convicting Neff of a charge that he killed his brother-in-law Kenneth Wynn.

This was Neff's third trial on charges that he killed his wife and his brother-in-law, Kenneth Wynn, as a result of an illicit love affair with Mrs. Wynn which extended over a period of years.

The two previous Neff case juries disagreed.

The jury which made its report just before noon after extensive deliberations reported that it is hopelessly deadlocked on the charge that Neff killed his wife.

Recommends Life Sentence

The jury recommended a life sentence for Neff in the Kenneth Wynn killing and Judge Wendell Ready set June 7 as the date for formal passing of sentence.

Defense Attorney Harold Goodwin indicated that a motion for a new trial will be made at that time.

Neff's two grown daughters and his sister were in the court room when today's verdict was announced. All three women wept. Neff put his arms around his daughters to comfort them. He was returned to jail to await the passing of sentence. (El Dorado Times, Saturday, May 7, 1949)


Herrington, Kansas


Butler County Undersheriff Forrest Richards collapsed and died early Sunday evening while in pursuit of a man he had arrested for reckless driving.

Taken into custody once again about 20 to 40 minutes after he had fled on foot was Raymond Neil Schulte, 23, of Wichita. He was booked at the county ajil for driving while intoxicated and escaping from custody. Officers said he refused to take a blood test.

Schulte, who was fined for drunkenness on a public highway in Butler County on July 25, 1950 was scheduled to appear this afternoon in county court on the two charges.

The incident which occurred at about 6:30 p.m. at Pickrell Corner nine miles south of El Dorado, touched off a massive but short lived search by approximately 50 law enforcement officers from Butler, Sedgwick, Cowley, and Greenwood counties.

First reports indicted that a sheriff's officer had been shot after arresting a hitchhiker. Persons at a service station and restaurant on the corner - junction of Highways 54, 77 and K-96 - had heard Richards fire one shot above the head of the escaping man and a witness later saw the undersheriff turn and fell to the ground.

Dr. Dale W. Anderson, county coroner, said Richards, 54, died of an apparent heart attack. The officer, who lived at 511 West Locust, had suffered a heart attack this summer and had been hospitalized for a lengthy period before returning to duty.

However, an autopsy was scheduled to be performed this morning in Wichita to determine the exact cause of Richards death. Sheriff Dallas Babcock said a paraffin test was also scheduled in Wichita today to make absolutely certain that Richards had fired the shot.

Minute-by-minute, officers from four counties and police dogs arrived to join in the search. Included were other sheriff's officers, El Dorado police, and El Dorado's new police dog, Fritz, Wichita and Sedgwick county officers, with five police dogs, officers, from Cowley and Greenwood counties, and the Highway Patrol.

Believing that Schulte might return to his car, George Lorance, El Dorado Police Officers, disconnected the coil wire to the distributor in Schulte's car.

While officers were searching, Schulte did return to his car - only to be taken into custody.

Witnessing Trooper Williams take Schulte from the car near the intersection were Sheriff Babcock, County Attorney Ralston, deputy Wegner and Lieut. Dick Hadsall, Highway Patrol officer.

Sheriff Babcock said an unidentified person had telephoned from the restaurant to the sheriff's office and said an officer had been shot at Pickrell Corner.

Ralph Romig, second shift dispatcher and jailer, said Richards had notified him by radio at 6:33 p.m. that a man had escaped from custody.

"He gave me the man's approximate description and the location, and that was the last I heard from him." Romig said.

Wesley Asmussen of Leon, operator of the service station, reportedly saw Richards fall to the ground while pursuing Schulte.

Officers said Schulte has a record as a suspicious person and traffic offender in Wichita.

"I have never seen any better cooperation." Sheriff Babcock commented in praising the rapid response and efforts on the part of law enforcement officers, both off and on duty, who converged on the scene.

The search for Schulte ended with Deputy Dick Wegner, a dispatcher at the sheriff's department here, arrived on the scene and saw the Wichitan sitting in his car beside the roadway. Wegner shouted to State Trooper Charles Williams of the Kansas Highway Patrol, Eureka, who hauled Schulte from the automobile and took him into custody.

County Attorney Warren Ralston who with Sheriff Dallas Babcock arrived just as Trooper Williams was arresting Schulte and Deputies Harold Towner and Don McGinnis who took Schulte's statement, said the chain of events happened this way:

After arresting Schulte for reckless driving. Undersheriff Richard took the man to his patrol car. Richards got out again to move Schulte's car off the highway but Schulte fled and was between some storage tanks at the Junction Service Station adjacent to a restaurant on Route 2, Leon.

When Schulte fled, Richards fired one shot over the man's head. The undersheriff radioed to the sheriff's office in El Dorado that a drunken driver he had taken into custody had escaped. Richards later collapsed and died after running about 100 feet.

When questioned, Schulte told officers he was in back of the restaurant and waited until everyone was gone and it was quiet.

Forrest E. Richards, a resident of El Dorado since 1933 had been associated with the sheriff's office for the past five years.

Prior to that, he was service manager for the Rice Motor Co.

He came to El Dorado in 1933 from Washington, Kan. Where he had moved from Nebraska as a young boy.

He was born Dec. 18, 1907 at Virginia, Neb. He and Mary E. Watts were married Dec. 26 1933 at Beatrice, Neb. She survives.

Mr. Richards who was a technical sergeant with the U. S. Army in World War II served in the European theater.

He was a member of the local veterans of Foreign Wars post Capt. Edgar Dale post 81 of the American Legion and the Disabled American Veterans. He was also a member of the Christian Church in Nebraska.

Survivors in addition to his wife, include one daughter, Mary Jo., 14, and one son, Forrest E. Jr., 9, both of the home; two brothers, Fay Richards, Cozad, Neb., and Glenn Richards, Beatrice, Neb.; two sisters, Mrs. C. E. Bryant, Beatrice, and Mrs. C. P. Snyder, Lincoln, Neb.

Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday at the Dietz Pittman Colonial Chapel, with the Rev. Leon Hayen, pastor of Trinity Evangelical United Brethren Church, officiating.

Interment will be in Walnut Valley Memorial Park. (El Dorado Times, September 23, 1962, front page & page 10)


Mrs. Clarence McDonald, 1809 Moyle, Augusta, was reportedly found dead by her husband at 9 a.m. today in their home.
According to Augusta police Safety Director steve Shaffer, Mrs. McDonald apparently died of a .38 caliber bullet wound from a target pistol kept in a chest of drawers at the home. Shaffer added that there was no reason to believe that the shooting was anything but accidental. A county coroner was called in, and an autopsy will be performed. (El Dorado Times, Tuesday, May 7, 1974)


Funeral services for Mrs. Clarence (Pauline) McDonald, 63, of Augusta, will be at 10:30 a.m. Thursday in Dunsford funeral Home. Burial will be at Sunset Lawns Cemetery, El Dorado. She died Tuesday.

Survivors include her widower: two sons, Jimmy D. Ropp, Torrance, Calif., and Richard L. McDonald, Dallas; a daughter, Mrs. Jo Ann Royse, Wichita and two sisters, Mrs. Iona Lutz, Albuquerque and Mrs. Alice Jones, Wichita. (El Dorado Times, Wednesday, May 8, 1974)


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