The killing of a retired jeweler last year in Lecompton is linked to a violent, weeklong burglary spree across four counties in northeast Kansas, according to prosecutors and court records.
At the time of Clarence D. Boose's death in April 2005 at his home in rural Lecompton, two Topeka men, Allen D. Smith and Leonard Wayne Price, were in the midst of a string of rural home burglaries in Jefferson, Jackson and Pottawatomie counties.
At one home, Price blasted his way in using a shotgun stolen in a previous burglary, according to a statement Smith gave police. Smith told police he and Price stole a saddle at one of the homes, sold it and used the money to buy "ice," or methamphetamine.
"With the number of burglaries they did, it looked like that was how they were supporting their habit was to just go in, steal stuff and know where to fence it," said Micheal Ireland, Jackson County attorney.
So far, only Price - a 44-year-old career burglar nicknamed "Battle Axe" - has been charged in Boose's killing.
But Douglas County Dist. Atty. Charles Branson said additional suspects could be charged. And at a court hearing last year in Jefferson County, a prosecutor told a judge Smith "probably" would face prison time from a case in Douglas County.
The timeline of burglaries is as follows:
¢ April 25, 2005: Guns, VCR tapes and jewelry are stolen from a rural home in Meriden in Jefferson County. Smith eventually was convicted in the case.
More about the case
- 6News video: Details emerge about killing of Douglas County man
- Burglar faces murder charge (07-15-06)
- 6News video: Police connect convict to Lecompton murder (07-14-06)
- Probe continues in death of jeweler (11-25-05)
- Police are silent about Boose clues (07-18-05)
- Police: Jeweler's death a homicide (05-03-05)
- Kansas Court of Appeals 1998 opinion on Leonard Price (.pdf)
Price was not charged but was listed in court records as a witness.
"I'd just like to apologize to the homeowners. I have taken the sense of security from their home and from their lives," Smith said at his sentencing, according to a transcript.
A judge sentenced him to probation, but said, "I understand he's going to be sentenced to prison on some other charges" in other counties.
¢ April 26, 2005: A rural home in Jackson County is burglarized. Ireland said that in that case, Smith told investigators Price shot the door with a shotgun taken from a previous burglary in Jefferson County, and that Smith acted as a lookout while Price went inside the home. Smith's statement to police says that when they left the home, they went to Meriden, sold a saddle and other items, then used the cash to buy methamphetamine, according to Ireland.
¢ April 29, 2005: Boose is found dead in his home on Upper River Road. The circumstances of the death were kept from the public until last week, when Douglas County's sheriff and prosecutor announced Price had been charged with killing Boose during a burglary. But details of the incident are still being kept quiet, including how Boose died.
When asked whether Smith would be charged in the case, Dist. Atty. Charles Branson said only, "There's other suspects that we're looking at."
¢ May 3, 2005: A farmer interrupts a burglary near Westmoreland in Pottawatomie County. The suspects fire at him before fleeing. Smith eventually turned himself in, and Price was arrested in Nebraska.
Both men have since been convicted of attempted second-degree murder in that case. As of Wednesday, Smith was being held in the Pottawatomie County Jail, awaiting transport to the state's prison system.
Price was sentenced in December and is in the state prison in Hutchinson with a release date of no earlier than 2016. He's expected to be brought to Douglas County in the coming weeks to stand trial in Boose's death.
"No one should have to live in fear of violence in their own home," Boose's daughter, Teresa Payne, of McPherson, said last week.