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Archive for Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Officials reverse course, decide to pay award in teen’s death

June 26, 2007

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— Three people who provided information on a man accused of abducting and killing a teenage girl will share a reward offered for information in the case.

Kelsey Smith, 18, was kidnapped the evening of June 2 outside a Target store in Overland Park. Her body was found June 6 in a wooded area near Longview Lake Park on the Missouri side of the Kansas City metropolitan area.

June 6 also was the day Edwin R. Hall, 26, of Olathe, was questioned and arrested by police. Hall is charged with premeditated first-degree murder and aggravated kidnapping.

Surveillance video from the Target showed a man entering and leaving the store and showed Smith being forced into her car in the parking lot. Police received hundreds of tips after requesting the public's help in identifying the man in the widely broadcast video.

Authorities had previously said the more than 500 tips from the public were helpful, but none met the criteria for receiving any of the $27,000 reward because they did not lead to Hall's arrest.

Police said Hall saw himself on television and got in touch with a lawyer, who called police on Hall's behalf.

Overland Park police now have decided that three tipsters should receive the money.

The Greater Kansas City Crime Stoppers TIPS hot line announced Monday that police had determined that two tips to the hot line and one from another source provided information that directly aided in Hall's arrest.

No details about the information or the anonymous tipsters were released.

"Everything we do is to protect the callers," said Sgt. Craig Sarver, coordinator of the TIPS hot line, which is maintained by the Kansas City Metropolitan Crime Commission.

The Crime Stoppers board of directors must approve the payments. The board meets the second week of July, and the rewards would be paid that week if approved.

Greg Smith, Kelsey's father, said the family was pleased with the decision.

"It's kind of what we figured would happen all along," he said.

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