Ronald Lee Decker, 52, of rural McLouth, was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder and aggravated robbery in connection with the body unearthed near his house, said Jefferson County Attorney Jim Vanderbilt.
Investigators allege Decker shot and killed Lloyd Wayne Green, 45, also of rural McLouth, on Oct. 4, 1999.
According to Vanderbilt, Green was at Decker's house when he was shot with a .22-caliber pistol. Decker also allegedly stole Green's wallet containing $400, Vanderbilt said.
Decker then buried Green's body nearby, Vanderbilt said.
The body had not been positively identified, pending autopsy, but investigators said they were nearly certain it is Green.
"We're 99.9 percent sure we know who it is," said Jefferson County Sheriff Roy Dunnaway.
The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is assisting in the identification, Dunnaway said.
Vanderbilt said he didn't expect charges to be filed against anyone else in the case.
Sheriff's officers went to the Decker house with a search warrant Sunday night and remained overnight. Dunnaway wouldn't say how they learned the body was there.
Monday morning, officers and KBI agents began slowly digging by hand where they thought the body might be, the sheriff said. The on-scene investigation was completed and officers left the area by 8 p.m., he said.
Decker, who lives in the 1100 section of Washington Road, was already in the Jefferson County Jail. He had been arrested Saturday for domestic battery, allegedly against his wife, Vanderbilt and Dunnaway said.
Neighbors were shocked when they learned of the grisly activity nearby.
When Andrew Durkes saw a Jefferson County Sheriff's Department car pass his house on Washington Road Monday, he knew something was wrong in the usually quiet neighborhood.
"I was wondering what was going on out here," he said. "It's usually pretty peaceful here."
Tuesday, Durkes and other residents in the area of 106th Street and Washington Road north of McLouth expressed shock at the news.
"It's very disturbing," said Gerald Kelly. "I've lived here since 1972 and nothing like this has happened this close."
Green was not reported missing after his murder in 1999, Dunnaway said.
He was relatively unknown in McLouth, according to residents interviewed along the city's main street. McLouth police didn't know anything about him, either.
"I never had any problem with him -- I didn't know him," said Police Chief Tom Burns.
Bob Weishaar, Nortonville, wondered how someone could be killed more than a year ago and not be missed.
"I'd never heard of his name here in McLouth," Weishaar said while pumping gas at the McLouth Texaco. "They say he's from here, but how come no one missed him?"
But several people said they knew Decker, the accused man. At the Harvest House Restaurant a female employee said Decker would frequently come in and "act crazy." Sometimes he had to be forced to leave the restaurant, she said. The woman declined to be identified.
Decker also is charged with aggravated battery stemming from a Feb. 13 incident, Vanderbilt said. Decker allegedly shot a can from his wife's hand, hitting one of her fingers.
Dunnaway said he didn't know when the autopsy and subsequent reports would be complete. The autopsy will be done by Dr. Erik Mitchell, a Topeka pathologist.
-- Staff writer Mike Belt can be reached at 832-7165.
Staff writer Matt Merkel-Hess contributed to this report.