As an acclaimed homicide expert visits Lawrence this week to teach police from around the Midwest how to catch killers, authorities here still are investigating an unsolved slaying of their own.
It's been more than eight months since Carmin Ross, a 40-year-old attorney, mediator and single mother, was found slain Nov. 14 in her home northwest of Lawrence near Lakeview Lake.
"We haven't given up on it by any means," Sheriff Rick Trapp said.
The Douglas County District Attorney's Office has opened a formal inquisition into the death, a tool that allows investigators to subpoena records from across the country. The inquisition can be useful in cases that involve business records from multistate corporations, cell phones or the Internet, for example.
"It extends beyond the boundaries of what you can obtain with a search warrant," Dist. Atty. Christine Kenney said, noting it wouldn't be appropriate for her to discuss details of the inquiry.
Court documents filed in Douglas County by Ross' parents have made clear they have suspicions about Ross' ex-husband, Kansas State University English professor Thomas E. Murray. Days before the death, Murray and Ross participated in child-custody mediation, and Ross told Murray her new love interest planned to move to Kansas, according to records.
The parents, who live in Indiana, don't want Murray to have oversight of the money Ross left to the couple's 4-year-old daughter. A court case related to that dispute recently was removed from Douglas County to Riley County District Court in Manhattan.
A hearing in that case is scheduled for Aug. 2.
Murray was a beneficiary of Ross' life-insurance policy and retirement accounts, according to records. Terrence J. Campbell, a Lawrence attorney who represents the Rosses, has said they planned to file a wrongful-death suit -- though he stopped short of saying it would be filed against Murray.
"The family remains hopeful that charges will be filed at some point soon," Campbell said Thursday.
Police searched Murray's home in Manhattan shortly after the killing but then said he wasn't a suspect. Murray has declined comment except to say the death was "the saddest moment in my life." He has not returned telephone calls or e-mails.
Sheriff's officials still are awaiting some laboratory-testing results on evidence, Trapp said. The Sheriff's Office continues to work with the FBI on the case, but it has not yet received an official report from criminal profilers in Quantico, Va.
Meanwhile, officers continue to keep a tight lid on crime-scene information, including how Ross was killed.
Some of the issues authorities face in the Ross case, such as consulting with FBI profilers and keeping crime-scene information from the public, have come up this week in a police-training seminar at the SpringHill Suites by Marriott. Vernon Geberth, a retired New York City homicide commander, is teaching about 50 officers from around the Midwest about "Practical Homicide Investigation."
Trapp said he hadn't spoken with Geberth about the Ross case. But several sheriff's investigators have attended Geberth's course in recent years, Trapp said.