Archive for Saturday, July 15, 2006

Burglar faces murder charge

Suspect in jeweler’s 2005 death has history of rural thefts

July 15, 2006


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.

Similar crime

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.

Career burglar

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.

Neighbors relieved

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.


hottruckinmama 11 years, 9 months ago

to bad the farmer at the second house house he broke into didn't have a shotgun handy. if he's guilty..fry him.

mztrendy 11 years, 9 months ago

David was such a wonderful man. I'm so relieved that they have finally ended this. I hope Mark and Teresa and the rest of the Boose family can now get the closure that they have been searching for since last April. God bless you all.

Sigmund 11 years, 9 months ago

The US Supreme Court recently reversed the Kansas Supreme Court, the Kansas Death Penalty is constitutional. However, I think when this murder occurred the question was still an open one. So is "Battle Axe" eligible for the Death Penalty?

Staci Dark Simpson 11 years, 9 months ago

This dude should fry. He is a habitual offender who has no remorse for anything. David was a sweet, good natured man who didn't deserve this. Justice should be served, rid our society of this nuisance who will only kill again if he had the chance.

pundit 11 years, 9 months ago

Sigmund: Yes, assuming charged, convicted, etc.

Steve Jacob 11 years, 9 months ago

Again, innocent until proven, but... I am guessing the police knew for awhile who the murderer was. But when they found out who it was, he was already in jail, so they just took their time, making a stronger case.

I don't think this will be a death penalty case, but being 44 years old, he will be a life long resident of Hutchinson.

Terry Jacobsen 11 years, 9 months ago

Well if he is guilty. No doubt some bleeding heart will say he's not really guilty, because he was abused as a child or something of the sort.

Too bad this very fine gentleman had to die because this animal wasn't put away for his previous offenses. How sad and wrong.

Mike Curtis 11 years, 9 months ago

Marion- Just how many tax payer dollars do you think it will take to keep this scumbag in custody for the rest of his life!?

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