Butler  County,  Kansas


El Dorado, The suspect in the Ethel Jean Sommers murder pleaded No Contest to first degree murder in Butler County District Court, Tuesday, May 28.

Sommers, a Towanda homemaker who worked part time as a bus driver for Circle USD #375, died from a single gunshot wound to the chest, Monday, August 6. She was 61 years old.

Zachary Arvieux, 22, of Towanda, Sommers' son-in-law, was detained in connection with the shooting after he turned himself in to authorities. He was arraigned Wednesday, August 8, in Butler County District Court on charges of first degree murder.

Arvieux and Sommers lived near each other in the 3300 block of Fulton Road, 1.5 miles south of Towanda. Arvieux and the Sommers' daughter lived in a mobile home next to the Sommers' house.

A call was made to the police at 3 p.m. Monday. According to the police a .44 caliber pistol was used in the crime.

Arvieux will be sentenced 9 a.m. Monday, July 8, in the Butler County Court.

This was the first murder in the Towanda area since 1983. (The Andover Journal Advocate, May 20, 2002)


Benton - According to Butler County officials a 48-year-old Benton man kept his elderly mother's body for approximately three months after she expired.

Authorities said no laws were broken even though he kept her for so long.

Investigators say autopsy results show the womans death appears to have been from natural causes.

The funeral home, because of the condition of the body, contacted the authorities after they received it.

Investigators speculate that woman passed away around March 8. She was 79 years old. (The Andover Journal Advocate, May 20, 2002)

Judge Binds Smith for Arraignment

El Dorado - A Butler County District Court judge bound a 44 year old Andover man Wednesday, May 22, for arraignment on charges of voluntary manslaughter stemming from the shooting death of an Arizona man in February.

The judge set Rickey G. Smith's arraignment for 11 a.m. June 13 in district court. At that time a trial date will be set. Smith is charged with the death of Eduardo A. Garcia, 35, of Tucson, Ariz.

According to the Andover Police Department, the two men started arguing in the early morning hours, which led to the shooting, Feb. 15. (The Andover Journal Advocate, May 20, 2002)


Anna Marie Witham, 79, of Benton, homemaker, was found dead the week of May 20, 2002. Services were held Thursday, May 23, 2002.

Survivors: sons, Joel of Leavenworth, Martin of Wichita, Chester of Benton; and eight grandchildren.

Memorial established with Palmyra Baptist Church, 999 NW Butler Rd., Benton 67017. (The Andover Journal Advocate, May 20, 2002)


Norman W. Barber, 74, of Benton, retired Postal Service letter carrier, died Tuesday, May 21, 2002. Services were held Friday, May 24, 2002.

Survivors: wife, Harriett, sons, Maj. Norman Wayne Barber of Bogota, Columbia, Douglas Alan Barber of Wichita, daughters, Rebecca Lou Barber of Los Angeles, Calif., Catherine Ann Barber of Benton and grandchild, Francesca Marie Barber of Bogota, Columbia.

Memorial established with Alzheimer's Association - Sunflower Chapter, 347 S. Laura, Wichita, 67211. (The Andover Journal Advocate, May 20, 2002)


Elizabeth Blaire Hill, 17, of Wichita, Andover Central High School senior, died Friday, May 24, 2002 of injuries sustained in an automobile accident. Services were held Tuesday, May 28, 2002.

Survivors include parents, Jim Hill, Anne Hill; brother, Ryland Andrew Hill, sisters, Kathryn Anne Hill, Hanna Leigh Hill; grandparents, Byron and Alma Morris of Wichita.

Memorial established with Three Trees Inc., 8100 E. 22nd Street North, Wichita, 67226. (The Andover Journal Advocate, May 20, 2002)


Mike Dwyer, Oil Field Worker, Met End in The Wyoming Oil Fields

Mike Dwyer, formerly a resident of El Dorado, was found dead in the oil fields near Thermopolis, Wyo., early yesterday morning. Information to this effect was received late yesterday afternoon by Sheriff George Hughes from P. H. Knight, coroner, at the Wyoming town. The latter wired Sheriff Hughes to ascertain if the dead man was known here and if he had any relatives in this section of the country. The telegram did not say how Dwyer met his death.

The only information as to Dwyer's identity was several receipts from the Moose Lodge at El Dorado. As soon as he received the telegram, Sheriff Hughes called E. E. Brown, formerly an officer in the lodge when it had a chapter here, and Brown went over his records last night. This morning he informed the officer that a Mike Dwyer a member of the lodge.

Dwyer is believed to have left here many months ago. He was a tank builder and worked in parts of the Butler County fields. H was located at El Dorado, Midian and Towanda at different times.

In addition to the receipts from the Moose Lodge, several receipts were found on the dead man made out for Mike Ryan from the International Association of Oil Field, Gas Well & Refinery Workers. The card inal receipts were from Local No. 43. As far as can be learned Dwyer did not belong to this organization here. (El Dorado Times, January 1, 1921)


20 Year Old Dies After Being Struck with Baseball Bat Near Wichita Hotel

A 20 year old El Dorado resident was pronounced dead at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at St. Joseph Medical Center, after he was attacked and beaten with a baseball bat in the parking lot of the CitiHost Motel, 4449 S. Broadway.

Wichita Police Captain Norman Williams identified the victim as Timothy O. Hoyt, 217 Ohio, in El Dorado. Police did not identify the victim until late Thursday afternoon.

Williams said a suspect turned himself in at 2 a.m. Thursday at the downtown police headquarters. He was identified as Ronald Sweat, 26, of Wichita.

Sweat was formerly charged late Thursday afternoon with two counts of aggravated battery and voluntary manslaughter.

Sweat is being held in lieu of $50,000 bail in the Sedgwick County Jail.

According to published reports, Hoyt and Sweat went to the motel together to visit Sweat's brother who lives there.

Witnesses reported Sweat was fighting with the people he was visiting and struck his brother and a woman with the baseball bat before striking Hoyt.

Police said they were called to the hotel about the violence at 7:30 p.m. Hoyt was struck in the head and neck with the baseball bat.

Police report that Hoyt had moved to El Dorado in October from Oregon.

He is survived by a wife and children in El Dorado and several other family members. (El Dorado Times, Friday, 1992)


An Austin, Texas truck driver was scheduled for arraignment Tuesday afternoon in Butler County District Court on charges stemming from a high-speed chase that ended in the death of a Butler County sheriff's deputy Monday morning.

Authorities said they plan to seek a first-degree murder indictment against him in connection with the death of Sgt. Tom Wolf, El Dorado.

Butler County attorney Bill Ronon said early Tuesday morning that he would file charges of first degree murder, possession of cocaine, possession of drug paraphernalia, attempting to elude police officers and reckless driving against 31-year-old Johnny Lee Huddleston.

Huddleston was the driver of a semi-trailer truck filled with grain that ran over and crushed a patrol car with Wolf inside.

Ronan said that based upon officers' reports, he would file the charge of first degree murder because he believed it was a "premeditated and deliberated act."

Ronan said Huddleston had a small amount of cocaine "on his person" at the time of the accident and said the amount was just enough for personal use.

Blood and urine samples were taken and sent to Topeka to determine whether or not Huddleston was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Results of the samples were not in this morning.

Huddleston was not seriously injured in the collision.

He was, however, taken to Susan B. Allen Memorial Hospital in El Dorado for treatment before being taken to the Butler County Jail.

Later Monday afternoon Huddleston was taken from the Butler County Jail to the Greenwood County Jail in Eureka as a precautionary measure.

The collision between the truck and Wolf's patrol car was the third accident of the day involving the truck.

About 10 a.m. the truck reportedly hit a vehicle south of Wichita on the Kansas Turnpike. The truck was later involved in a minor-injury accident in Wichita and there were several reports of a speeding truck in the northern part of the city.

Sedgwick County Sheriff's officers gave chase, heading east on Highway 254.

Near Benton, about halfway between El Dorado and Wichita, officers tried to run the truck off the road and fired shots at the radiator and tires in an effort to stop it.

The truck continued toward Towanda, where it rammed into the rear end of Wolf's vehicle. The truck struck a parked delivery truck before carshing into the side of a house in Towanda.

Sgt. Wolf, 28, of 812 W. Second, had been a sheriff's deputy for four and a half years.

Funeral services will be 1 p.m. Wednesday at St. John's Catholic Church in El Dorado. Interment will follow in Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Moline.

Wolf was born July 1, 1953 at Oakland, Calif., and had lived in El Dorado for the past six years, moving from Moline.

He moved to Enid, Okla. at an early age and later moved to Wichita and the Potwin area, where he attended school at Oil Hill. He then moved to Moline, where he lived with his grandparents and was graduated from Moline High School.

Alvin Thomas Wolf, Jr., married Rhonda Reyrauch at Eureka on April 6, 1974.

Wolf is survived by his wife, Rhonda, of the home; two sons, Michael and Matt, both of the home; his mother and step-father, Dixie and Dean Groene, Enid, Okla; his father, Alvin T. Wolf, Sr., Oakland, Calif.; his grandmother, Mrs. Arlimae Fox, Moline; three brothers, Dennis Wolf, Moline, and Leroy Groene and David Groene, both of Enid, and one sister, Sheryle Villareal, Enid.

A member of the Kansas Peace Officers Association and the Kansas Sheriff's Association, Wolf was preceded in death by his grandfather.

A memorial has been established at the Walnut Valley State Bank. Donations may be sent to the bank or Carlson Funeral Home, which is in charge of the arrangements.
(El Dorado Times ~ Tuesday, 20 April 1982)


One-Car Crash Near Dam Sends Three Others To Area Hospitals

A 22-year-old El Dorado man died as the result of injuries received in a single-vehicle accident late Thursday night near El Dorado Dam.

The 11:02 p.m. accident claimed the life of David E. Logan II. It also sent three other El Dorado residents to area hospitals.

The accident occurred at the base of the dam at the intersection of 12th Street and the access road to the Boulder Bluff state recreation area at El Dorado State Park.

According to sheriff's reports, Logan and Kristine M. Harper, 17, and Jennifer G. Lynch, 18, were all passengers in a vehicle driven by Joshua J. McAnally, 22.

According to reports, the 1993 Plymouth Laser involved in the accident was eastbound on 12th Street when it left the left side of the roadway and struck an embankment. 

It then went airborne, struck the ground and rolled an undetermined number of times.

Logan was transported by Butler County Emergency Medical Services to Susan B. Allen Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 11:44 p.m.

Harper and Lynch were also taken by EMS to the hospital, where they were each reportedin stable condition this morning.

McAnally was flown by LifeWatch helicopter to Wesley Medical Center in Wichita, where he was reported in critical condition this morning.

The Butler County Rescue Squad was also called to the scene to extricate victims from the vehicle.
(El Dorado Times ~ 4 April 1994)


An inmate at the El Dorado Corectional Facility already serving a life sentence for murder is facing an additional homicide charge in connection with the beating death of another EDCF inmate Sunday.

Butler County Attorney Mike Ward said this morning he planned to file a single charge of first degree murder today against Roger D. Schlegel, 43, of Hutchinson, who was still being held at the prison this morning pending an investigation into the death of Keith D. Teufel, 35, of Wichita.

The case was being investigated by the intelligence and investigation division of the prison, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and the Butler County Sheriff's office.

Jim Morton, prison public information officer, said Teufel died during an incident which occurred at about 4:45 p.m. Sunday in the kitchen of the food service area at the prison. He said Teufel was apparently approached from the rear and then assaulted.

Ward said the weapon used in the assault was an approximatley 24-inch piece of pipe used as a handle on a piece of machinery in the kitchen. Morton said no motive for the attack has been established yet, and Ward said he did not know what the source of the conflict between the two inmates had been.

Teufel was taken to Susan B. Allen Memorial Hospital in El Dorado by Butler County Emergency Medical Services. Ward said hospital officials told him Teufel (who had been beaten about the head) was basically dead on arrival.

Morton said Schlegel has an "extensive record." Ward said that includes the 1988 shooting death of a cab driver in Ford County (for which he was serving the life sentence) and an escape.

Because of that record and because he is a "very dangerous individual." Ward said he was hoping to take care of Schlegel's first appearance (at which a date for a preliminary hearing will be set) at the prison rather than transporting him to Butler County District Court.

Teufel, who was from Wichita, was serving a 3-9 year sentence for aggravated escape and burglary out of Reno County.

Morton said Schlegel and Teufel (who came to the prison from the state prison in Lansing in January and February of this year respectively) had both been assigned to work in food service. He said the assault occurred just as the call had gone out for inmates who are on special (such as medical) diets to take their evening meal.

Morton said he believed the assault ended when Schelgel "just stopped" beating Teufel. There was a food service correctional officer on the scene, he said, and Schlegel was immediately handcuffed and taken into custody.

Morton said an approximately one-hour prison-wide lockdown followed the incident.
(El Dorado Times ~ Monday ~ 13 July 1992)


A 20-year-old El Dorado man was killed Friday night in a multi-vehicle accident on North Gordy.

The victim was identified by the El Dorado Department of Public Safety as Daryl L. Stewart of 1011 W. Pine; he was pronounced dead at Susan B. Allen Memorial Hospital at 11:32 p.m. Friday. Stewart was a passenger in a vehicle driven by Roger I. Knowles, II, 20, of 1704 W. Third.

According to the FDPS, preliminary reports indicate the Knowles vehicle, which was northbound on Gordy, collided in the intersection of Third and Gordy with a westbound vehicle driven by Linda C. Ball, 41, of 817 W. Fourth, one of those two vehicles (it was still undertermined this morning which one) then struck two vehicles parked and unattended in the 400 block of North Gordy on the west side of the street.

Those two vehicles were owned by Mark C. Patty, of 401 N. Gordy, and James T. Thomas of 828 Osage. One was flipped over on its top, the other received minor damage.

According to EDPS reports, Knowles was admitted to SBA for observation complaining of pain to the head and related injuried. Ball was admitted for observation complaining of neck, back and chest pain.

Ball's son, Gregory M. Ball, 12, was admitted for observation complaining of facial injuries. Another passenger in the Ball vehicle, Zacharia Barker, 11, of Route 2, Box 208, El Dorado, received an abrasion to the right arm and a small abrasion to the right side of the forehead but was not treated.

Knowles and Linda and Gregory Ball were all reportedin good and stable condition at SBA this morning.

According to the EDPS, Knowles was to be held for a state warrant, with charges to be determined by the County attorney's office.

The EDPS received the report of the accident at 10:11 p.m. Friday via 911, which advised there had been an unknown type of accident at 401 N. Gordy. Four patrol officers, one fire engine, two ambulances from Butler County Emergency Medical Services and the Butler County Rescue Squad all responded to the accident.
(El Dorado Times ~ Saturday ~ 12 May 1990)


The body of an 18-year-old Butler County youth, who last was seen Thursday, was dragged out of the Walnut River near Augusta early this morning.

The victim, Leland Capps, whose last address was 16119 E. Central in Andover, was reported missing Sunday at 12:57 p.m.

Sheriff Dave Williams said today that three suspects in Capps' death are in custody.

Williams said Capps' body was fished out of the Walnut River approximately three miles south of Augusta and then west. Williams said the body had been weighted down and his officers had to use a wrecker to pull it out of the river.

"Deputies Larry Cody and Stan Cox found the body," said Williams.

Williams said officers were lowered down the steep river bank so they could assist in getting the body out of the water.

Williams said that his deputies were "all over the county" gathering information on the case.

He said that although Capps had an Andover address, it was felt that he probably lived in the Augusta area.

"I don't know if we had ever had any trouble from him," Williams said. "We're really now just getting started on the investigation."
(El Dorado Times ~ Monday ~ 5 Jan 1987) 


Butler County Sheriff Davie Williams said today that he did not know when exactly charged woulc be filed against three men being held in the Butler County jail in connection with the death of an 18-year-old Andover man.

The body of Leland Capps, who had been shot, was fished out of the Walnut River about three miles south of Augusta and then west about 2 a.m. Sunday morning following a tip.

The body was weighted down, but officers saw his legs and arms in the water when the search began late Sunday night.

Capps last was seen last Thursday.

"As far as we know," Williams said, "no drugs were involved. There just has been too much speculation around town on this and I wish there hadn't been."

Williams added there did not appear to be any connection to Capps' death and an abandoned car found Monday afternoon.

The vehicle had no license tag and was hanging over the river bank.

"I've heard that story, too," Williams said, "about the car being all shot full of bullet holes."
(El Dorado Times ~ Tuesday 6 Jan 1987)


Three men charged in the murder of an 18-year-old Andover youth are scheduled for preliminary hearings Jan. 13.

Billy C. Matthis (also known as Charlie Mathis), 18, and William C. Horton (also known as Billy Horton), 23, both of Douglass, and John E. Beebe, 23, of Latham, were arraigned in Butler County District Court at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday in the death of Leland Capps, whose last address was 16119 E. Central in Andover.

Mathis was charged with first degree murder, felony murder, aggraveted kidnapping and aggravated robbery. Horton and Beebe were each charged with aiding and abetting first degree murder, aiding and abetting felony murder, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated robbery.

Each appeared separately before District Judge Mike Maworsky in approximately 10-minute appearances. They are also scheduled to appear separately again at their preliminary hearings, which will be held to determine if there is enough evidence to set trial.

Surety bond of $150,000 was set for each of the defendants, who remain in custody today in the Butler County Jail.

Butler County Sheriff Dave Williams said this morning Beebe is also charged with several burglaries, for which he had been under investigation for some time.

Capps was reported missing as 12:57 p.m. Sunday. Williams said this morning sometime after midnight Sunday one of the suspects in the case came to the sheriff's office and told sheriff's investigators about the killing, also implicating the other two suspects.

Capps' body, which had been weighted down, was pulled from the Walnut River about 3 miles south of Augusta and then west at about 2 a.m. Monday.

Williams said this morning robbery was apparently a motive in the case, although it is believed that robbery netted the suspects only about $3 or $4. He said it is believed the series of events which led to Capps' murder began last Thursday night, when he was picked up at a telephone booth while making a call to get help after his car had broken down.

He said it is believed Capps was subsequently taken to a farmhouse north of Benton, where he was beaten, then to the location where his body was found, where he had been shot with a .22-caliber handgun.

Williams said sheriff's investigators believe they have the gun used in the shooting of Capps, although bullistics tests still have to be run. He said investigators also believe they have the weapon used in his beating.

Williams said both were recovered after search warrants were issued and carried out in Douglass and Latham.

Williams said while there have been rumors the suspects were actually searching for Capps' twin brother, "there's absolutely no truth to that, as far as I am concerned."

Attorneys James Hargrove and Greg Mathias have been appointed to represent Beebe and Horton respectively. Robert Brown has been appointed to represent Mathis.
(El Dorado Times ~ Wednesday ~ 7 Jan 1987)


Dazed by the suddeness with which the fire had swept away their home and the life of a five-year-old sister and daughter, the George Wilson family, at Siliyards, sat in a barren lease shanty across the road from where their home had stood and bewilderedly gazed at the smoldering ruins, yesterday afternoon. Besides the blow of the tragic death of Geraldine May, the eighth of ten children, the family's entire possessions: clothes, bedding, furniture and supplies were destroyed in the few short minutes that the fire raged.

It has been impossible to degermine how the blaze originated but it is generally conceded that varying gas pressure in the lines supplying fuel to the home was responsible. Mrs. Wilson left a low fire burning in the gas stove when she went to the garden to do some work. She was still busily engaged when J. L. Buchanan, agent at the Missouri Pacific Depot, noticed the blaze and warned her.


She was at once apprehensive about three small children who had been in bed asleep in the care of an older daughter. An attempt was made to enter the house. Mr. Buchanan entered the front room which was so smoke filled that he could not see. Stooping to the floor, he looked under the door, separating the front room from the kitchen. Through the crack under this door he could see that the kitchen was a mass of flames. He tried to gain an entry to the bedroom where the children were asleep, but when the window was broken out a sheet of fire burst from the window making it impossible to enter.

The two younger Wilson children were found in the yard at the rear of the home about this time, but the mother feared that the older daughter who had been left in charge was still inside the burning home. It was later discovered that this daughter had gone to Eureka with the older son soon after her mother had gone to the garden. The two youngest children had gotten out of bed and had gone into the yard to play about the same time.


As soon as the fury of the fire had abated, an employee of the J. H. Wiggins Mortuary, at Eureka, was called and the charred body of Geraldine was taken from the ruins. The body was burned beyond recognition.

A radio, Victrola and a few chairs were all that were saved. These were in the front room where the closed door of the kitchen held the fire back for a short time. A vacant lease shanty directly across the street furnished a temporary refuge for the family yesterday afternoon. Employees of the Great Southern Oil Company and J. T. Thompson were soliciting funds for the destitute family and had secured several hundred dollars early in the evening. The family was to be divided up among the various neighbors for the night while arrangements for new housekeeping equipment were being made.


The fire apparently started near the gas stove in the kitchen and many of the Sallyards people believe it was caused by an overheated stove. The gas used at Sallyards is residue gas from a gasoline plant. The pressure in the lines varies greatly from time to time, sometimes being so low that it can hardly be lighted and increasing rapidly at others. It is believed that the pressure was low when the mother left the house and that soon afterwards rose overheating the stove.

The funeral services for Geraldine May will be held at 2 o'clock tomorrow afternoon at the Christian Church at Reece. Burial will be in the Reece Cemetery.
(El Dorado Times ~ Tuesday ~ 1 May 1928)


The saddest accident that ever occurred in El Dorado happened about eleven o'clock yesterday morning, whereby Perry Lightwine, a ten year old lad, lost his life at the granary on Gen. Ellet's farm south of town. Coroner John Long was notified immediately, who, with a representative of the TIMES, went to the scene of the accident. Alex Miller, who lives on the place, had been shelling corn with the wind-mill and went to the house for something, leaving Perry and Bobby Miller playing around the granary. Shortly afterwards he heard screams, and rushing up into the building, found Perry wound on the shafting, and blood, flesh, bones and clothing scattered about the room. The switch stick that throws the mill out of gear had been broken, and it is supposed that the boy had climbed up and tried to stop the mill, when his clothing became entangled on the coupling of the shafting, throwing him between the two upright posts, resulting in instantaneous death. Coroner Long did not think the circumstances sufficient to hold an inquest. The body was removed to J. T. Oldham's undertaking rooms and prepared for burial. Boys should take warning from this and seek less dangerous places to play in. And such places should be kept locked, especially when the machinery cannot be thrown out of gear, and such a gale blowing as there was yesterday.
(Walnut Valley Times ~ 6 Jan 1888)


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