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Archive for Saturday, September 8, 2001

Two charged in DeSoto slaying

Johnson County authorities searching for third suspect

September 8, 2001

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Two men are charged with first-degree murder in the Tuesday shooting death of a DeSoto woman. A third suspect remained at large Friday.

Alfredo Arambula of Kansas City, Kan., and Jesse Guardado of Edwardsville on Friday were in the Johnson County Adult Detention Center, charged with killing Melanie Oliver. The 41-year-old DeSoto woman died early Tuesday after a man shot her in the hip.

Johnson County Sheriff's detectives and Kansas City, Kan., Police officers arrested Arambula and Guardado, both 18, late Thursday.

Authorities still seek Guardado's brother, who is known both as Juan Crutchfield and Juan Guardado.

He was originally considered a witness but now is a suspect, said Johnson County Sheriff Capt. Vince Werkowitch.

"We have a warrant for his arrest for a previous incident," he said. "That warrant is for kidnapping, aggravated battery, domestic violence and intimidation of a witness."

Crutchfield/Guardado, 22, is the father of three children who lived with Oliver, her boyfriend and her boyfriend's daughter, the mother of the children.

Arambula, Guardado and Crutchfield/Guardado each had different levels of participation in the homicide, Werkowitch said.

The suspects have been involved in other incidents at Oliver's home, Werkowitch said.

News of the killing shocked the town of less than 5,000 people, where only one other person has been slain as far back as Johnson County Sheriff's Department employees can remember. In that case, the body of Kansas City, Mo., resident Penny Tyler, 34, was found in rural DeSoto in March 2000, said Sheriff's Sgt. Douglas Strieby. That case is unsolved.

Oliver lived at Lakeview Heights, a DeSoto duplex housing community. Residents of the predominantly Hispanic neighborhood have formed a tight-knit community and frequently gather in their yards to drink and socialize, said Noe Carrillo, who lives next door to Oliver.

Though law enforcement officers routinely patrol the neighborhood to make sure these gatherings don't get out of hand, Carrillo said, they usually don't have to stop.

But Werkowitch said sheriff's deputies had been called to Oliver's home several times in the past.

Manuel Carrillo, Noe Carrillo's cousin who lives a block west of Oliver's duplex, heard the shooting Tuesday morning. He said he had seen a photo of Crutchfield/Guardado on the news and thought he recognized him as someone who once lived with Oliver.

Johnson County Sheriff's investigators ask anyone with information about Juan Crutchfield/Guardado to call the TIPS hotline at 816-474-TIPS. Callers remain anonymous and could receive a reward, if their tip leads to an arrest.

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