Prosecutors in Kansas City, Mo., on Thursday charged two people with killing a longtime Lawrence resident who was found shot to death Wednesday morning at a Kansas City park.
The death of Derek A. Orchard, 37, has stunned many people in Lawrence, where he grew up and graduated from high school. Police have characterized the shooting as drug-related. But friends and family members say that doesn't fit the picture of the person they knew.
"I thought the world of him," said Tracy Ford Stacey, who met Orchard in first grade and grew up in the Deerfield neighborhood with him. "I'm so sorry, and I'm sorry that it sounds like some mistakes were made. : I still want people to remember just how great he was."
Jackson County prosecutor James Kanatzar announced Thursday that Antonio E. Smith, 17, and Lamar D. Quarles, 18, both of Kansas City, Mo., had been charged with second-degree murder, robbery and armed criminal action in Orchard's death.
Orchard was married with three children, had a career in business and marketing, and lived in Overland Park. His father, Richard A. Orchard, is a well-known Lawrence eye doctor.
The question of how he met up with the shooting suspects is what has family members searching for answers. They are highly skeptical of the police's characterization of what happened.
"We really don't have answers. : I don't know about any drugs being around at all," his mother, Georgia Orchard, said Thursday evening.
According to a written probable-cause statement filed by police, Smith told detectives that Orchard approached him and Quarles at Riverview Gardens apartments near the 1600 block of East Missouri Avenue and indicated he "wanted to party," the document states. The site is near Paseo Boulevard and Missouri Avenue, just northeast of downtown Kansas City, Mo.
"We know where he was. We know what that area is known for," said Sgt. Tony Sanders, a spokesman for the Kansas City, Mo., police.
The report also gives the account of an unnamed witness who said that Smith and Quarles introduced Orchard to him late Tuesday evening at the complex and told the witness to "go along with" a plan to steal Orchard's vehicle.
Smith told police that Orchard drove him, Quarles and two other men to a park "off 107th Street," and that Quarles pointed a gun at Orchard, told him to put his hands in the air, shot him at least twice and went through his pockets before the group fled in Orchard's Honda Accord.
Shortly after midnight Tuesday, police stopped four people, including Smith and Quarles, driving near 12th Street and Paseo. Police learned the vehicle belonged to Orchard, and they found Orchard's credit cards on one of the men, according to the police report.
A construction worker found Orchard's body several hours later - early Wednesday morning - at Clark Ketterman Athletic Field near 107th Street and Skiles Avenue in southern Kansas City, about 10 miles from where the two suspects say they initially met Orchard.
Orchard went to Grinnell College after graduating from Lawrence High School and later earned an MBA from Kansas University.
Ford Stacey, Orchard's longtime neighbor, said she knew him as a good father and, in his high school days, a talented singer, actor and soccer player. She remembers his singing the song "Fire and Rain" at the annual "Showtime" program at LHS and sounding just like James Taylor.
"He's just an amazing person," she said. "He has lots of friends. : I think everyone's stunned."