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Kansas Cold Case: Great Bend Murders

February 08, 2007
  • Composite sketch of Great Bend suspect
Composite sketch of Great Bend suspect

Quiet, safe---they're words that describe a typical day in the western Kansas town of Great Bend.

But that's not the way people remember September 4th, 2002.

Kathye Phelps "Wichita maybe, Topeka maybe. Not Great Bend, Kansas"

Guy Sunderland: "It's something that's every parent's worst nightmare."

A nightmare that's yet to end for those close to these two women.

Mandi Alexander was a clerk and Mary Drake was a customer at what used to be the Dolly Madison bread store.

It was business as usual here, until late that Wednesday afternoon.

Corey Latham: "We are looking at a time frame somewhere between 5:15 and 6 p.m."

A delivery man arrived to find the store locked.

He had a key for the back door....and when he went in....discovered Mandi and Mary stabbed to death...lying in a pool of blood.

Great Bend had experienced a great shock.

What baffles a lot of people is that the killer seemed to take a huge risk....committing these murders in a store on one of the busiest corners in town at the height of the evening rush.

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Corey Latham "At that location, that time of day, a lot of people getting off work and there were several shoppers that afternoon."

Minutes before the bodies were discovered....a person wanting to shop at the store told police he arrived to find a man walking out the front door and locking it...saying the store was closed.

Finding out who that man is, could be the key to solving this case.

Investigators are still looking for two customers that day who may be able to help.

Corey Latham: "We have two transactions, in fact the last two transactions the store that day are unaccounted for, occurring around 5:30 p.m. Obviously there were two people in there who could help us identify who else was around the store, who was in the store. We would like those people to come forward. "

The murder weapon was some type of sharp object...

Money was missing...but it wasn't a lot....so investigators are not sure that robbery was the motive.

After questioning more than 600 people, there are many unanswered questions.

But authorities and those close to the victims believe the answers are out there....along with a seventeen thousand dollar reward.

Dean Akings: "If there's somebody out there that has some information that they think maybe is not enough to get the reward, give us that information anyway. Maybe that little bit of information will give us a tip to where we can go and clear this case."

While catching the killer won't change what happened....it could end the wondering for family and friends who say they still have no idea who would have committed these murders or why.

Anyone with information that could help solve this case is encouraged to call the the Great Bend Police Department, or 1-800-KS CRIME. 

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