A burglar nicknamed "Battle Axe" has been charged in the murder of a retired jeweler found dead more than a year ago in his Lecompton home, Douglas County's sheriff and prosecutor announced Friday.
Leonard Wayne Price, 44, is charged with first-degree murder and aggravated burglary in the killing of 77-year-old Clarence David Boose on April 29, 2005, at Boose's home on Upper River Road.
Dist. Atty. Charles Branson said it appeared the killing happened when Boose was at home and Price burglarized it - but he wouldn't release other details of the case, including how Boose was killed.
According to court records, Price had a history of working with other people to commit multiple burglaries within a short time frame in rural areas - sometimes by kicking in the doors and ransacking the home while the occupants appear to be away.
"No one should have to live in fear of violence in their own home," said Boose's daughter, Teresa Payne of McPherson, who on Friday spoke publicly for the first time about the killing.
Neither Branson nor Sheriff Ken McGovern would comment about how they identified Price as the suspect. Branson said the investigation of the death continues, and there could be additional suspects.
He said it didn't appear that Price knew Boose.
On May 3, 2005, less than a week after Boose was found dead, Price was caught burglarizing a rural home in Pottawatomie County, about an hour's drive to the northwest, according to that county's sheriff's office. He fired a gun at a farmer who interrupted the burglary, according to the sheriff, and eventually was convicted of attempted second-degree murder.
Another man, identified in media reports at the time as 34-year-old Allen D. Smith, also was arrested in the Pottawatomie County case, but the outcome of his case wasn't available Friday.
Price was sentenced Dec. 8 for the shooting in Pottawatomie County and is now in the state prison in Hutchinson, with a release date of no earlier than November 2016. He likely will be brought to Douglas County in coming weeks to stand trial.
According to prison and court records, Price is a former Topeka resident who was convicted of a string of eight burglaries in three Kansas counties within a six-month period in 1994.
Three of the burglaries happened on the same day in October 1994 in Nemaha County within a few miles of each other. Items stolen included guns, a video game system and, at one home, a puppy.
"All three burglaries : were similar in nature in that the doors had been kicked in, the homes were vandalized, and household items were scattered around the home," a 1998 Kansas Court of Appeals decision states.
That decision quotes Price as saying he liked to do "about two burglaries a week usually on Mondays and then again on Thursday or Friday" and that he liked to sell items as soon as possible. Police built a case against Price then by granting immunity to a man who testified that he, Price and occasionally a third person committed the burglaries together.
Price also was convicted of two home burglaries that year in Jackson County and two in Pottawatomie County.
Boose, who went by his middle name, was the former owner of David's Jewelry in Topeka. Friends said he enjoyed restoring old cars and musical instruments.
The arrest came after a nearly 16-month investigation that involved about 200 leads and 250 interviews, Sheriff McGovern said. In the rural area around Boose's home, neighbors expressed relief.
"Thank God they've caught him," said Bonnie King, who lives about a mile from Boose's home.
King said many people in the area thought the death was related to a burglary, in part because strangers regularly drive along Upper River Road, about 10 miles northwest of Lawrence. Some of them, as King's husband, Virgil, said at the time of the death, are "looking to see what they can get into."
McGovern thanked a list of 10 other agencies that helped in the case, including the Lawrence Police Department and crime labs in Kansas City, Mo., and Pueblo, Colo. He also thanked Boose's family members for their patience.
Payne, Boose's daughter, attended the announcement of the charges along with her brother, Mark Boose of Lecompton.
"We appreciate the time and the effort it's taken to bring us to this day," Payne said, before turning around and saying "Thanks" to McGovern.