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Archive for Thursday, June 3, 2004

Convicted murderers eligible for parole

Crimes include rape, killing of elderly resident

June 3, 2004

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A man convicted as a teenager for the murder of an elderly Lawrence woman and one of two men who killed a woman in Jefferson County soon will be eligible for parole.

In August 1984, Donald E. Alexander, who now is 38, raped and beat to death Marguerite L. Vinyard in her home at 2100 Tenn. Alexander is serving a life sentence in Lansing Correctional Facility for first-degree murder and rape.

Gary Joseph Quirk, 45, was one of two men convicted in 1981 for the murder of Theresa Ingram Lynn, 24. She was stabbed repeatedly and raped in Jefferson County by Quirk and Leslie Lorn Ellifritz, 47. Lynn's body later was pulled from the Kansas River in Wyandotte County.

Law enforcement officials who worked on the two murder cases question whether Alexander or Quirk should be paroled.

"He committed a heinous crime, and I believe the Kansas Department of Corrections is an appropriate place for him to stay," said Jefferson County Sheriff's Maj. Terry Reiling, who worked on the Lynn investigation. Quirk is being held in the El Dorado Correctional Facility.

Similar sentiments were expressed about Alexander.

"I would personally be skeptical about putting him out on parole simply because of the brutal nature of (the crime)," said Jerry Wells, who was the assistant Douglas County district attorney who prosecuted Alexander.

Mike McCaffrey, a retired Lawrence Police detective who investigated the case, agreed.

"You can go both ways on somebody who was a kid like that, but he did deprive her of her life," McCaffrey said. "I kind of think you should have to give up your life."

In a 1985 trial, a jury ruled Alexander broke into Vinyard's home, raped and then beat her to death with a "tire-knocker." A tire-knocker is a piece of wood weighted with lead used by truck drivers.

"She didn't have a chance," Wells said of Vinyard, who was 80 at the time of her death. "In the 20-some years I was a prosecutor, I don't think I've ever seen anything more brutal."

McCaffrey recalled an interview he and David Reavis, now a retired police detective, had with Alexander. In questioning about his whereabouts the night of the murder, Alexander said he had gone to a convenience store to get a pack of Lucky Strike cigarettes. Detectives found a partial pack of Lucky Strike in Vinyard's garage, McCaffrey said.

McCaffrey also remembers Alexander as being nervous.

"He was extremely thin, and his heart was beating so rapidly, it was making his shirt shudder," McCaffrey said. "I'd never seen anything like it."

Also up for parole will be Terry F. Walling, convicted in Douglas County in 1984 on two counts of rape, who is being held in Lansing.The Kansas Parole Board has scheduled public hearings about possible paroles at the following dates and locations:

  • June 24, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Finney State Office Building, third floor, room 3080, Wichita.
  • June 25, 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., Landon State Office Building, first floor, room 106 A, Topeka.
  • June 28, 10 a.m. to noon, Kansas City, Kan., City Hall, 701 N. Seventh St.

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