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Kansas Cold Case: The I-70 Killer

October 29, 2009

They had just closed the store for the night but were waiting for one last customer.  On April 11, 1992, laBride store owner Patricia Magers and employee Trisha Smith were waiting for him to come and pick up an item.  laBride - a bridal and tuxedo store - was located in a strip mall near Kellogg and Oliver.  A man came into the store but it wasn't who the women were expecting.  He took both into a back room and shot them execution style in the head.

The original customer who was supposed to pick up the item also came into the store.  Authorities say he didn't know the women were in the back and assumed he had walked in on a robbery.  The customer somehow talked his way out of the store and later called police from a pay phone.  When emergency crews arrived, they found 23 year-old Smith was still alive.  They rushed her to the hospital where she died of her injuries.  Magers, 32, died at the store.

In 1992, Wichita Police Lt. Mike Hennessy was a homicide investigator.  He says the shooting was unusual because at that time, Wichita has very few double murders.  Hennessy says the suspect did not cover his face and got into the store easily.

"It's our estimation the gunman knocked on the door," said Hennessy.  "Either the owner or employee came to the door thinking it was the customer who had called ahead looking for an item for a function later that night."

Hennessy says the suspect did take property from the store but he won't say what it was.  He says there's no indication of which direction the man went or if he had an accomplice or vehicle nearby. 

The original customer was the only eyewitness to see the gunman.  He was able to give a detailed description to forensic sketch artist, Lois Gibson.  That sketch was later distributed among law enforcement and the public for information.

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Sketch of I-70 Killer

IT'S A SERIAL KILLER

A few days later, Wichita Police realize they may be dealing with a serial killer case.  In 1992, law enforcement agencies used a teletype.  Before computers, it was the way agencies shared information.  Wichita investigators discover a similar murder three days earlier in Indianapolis, Indiana.  From there, they linked more homicides to the case.  In all, six victims in three states were linked by ballistics evidence.  The murders happened within a span of only 30 days.

April 8, 1992
Victim:     Robin Fuldauer
Age:         26 years-old
Store:       Payless ShoeSource
Location:  Indianapolis, Indiana


  

April 11, 1992
Victim:     Patricia Magers
Age:         32 years-old
Store:       laBride
Location:  Wichita, Kansas



 

Victim:      Patricia (Trisha) Smith
Age:          23 years-old
Store:        laBride
Location:   Wichita, Kansas

April 27, 1992
Victim:     Michael (Mick) McCown
Age:         40 years-old
Store:       Ceramics shop
Location:  Terre Haute, Indiana

May 3, 1992
Victim:      Nancy Kitzmiller
Age:         25 years-old
Store:       Western Boot Shop
Location:  St. Charles, Missouri

May 7, 1992
Victim:      Sarah Blessing
Age:          37 years-old
Store:        Video store
Location:   Raytown, Missouri


 

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