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Archive for Sunday, November 29, 2009

Missouri man suspected in Kansas killing of wife, children

November 29, 2009

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— A former city official from Missouri who lost his job after he was charged with assaulting his wife was accused Sunday of fatally shooting her and their teenage daughters in Osage County, Kan.

The Kansas attorney general's office said in a statement that James Kraig Kahler, 46, was arrested Sunday on suspicion of three counts of capital murder in the deaths of his 44-year-old wife, Karen, and their daughters, Emily, 18, and 16-year-old Lauren.

He also is accused of attempted first-degree murder in the shooting of his wife's 89-year-old grandmother, Dorothy Wight, in whose home in Burlingame the bodies were discovered on Saturday night.

Ashley Anstaett, a spokeswoman for the attorney general's office, said Wight remained in critical condition Sunday.

Kahler is accused of aggravated burglary because authorities suspect he broke into Wight's home to commit the crimes, the statement said.

Prosecutors will file charges against Kahler Monday morning, it said. He was scheduled to appear in Osage County District Court at 11 a.m. Monday.

Anstaett said she didn't know whether Kahler, who was arrested Sunday after a 12-hour manhunt, had an attorney.

She confirmed that Kahler used to be the director of the Water & Light Department in Columbia, Mo., where he faced other charges. Online court records show Kahler was scheduled for trial in Columbia on Wednesday on a domestic assault charge that stemmed from an altercation with his wife in March.

Kahler's attorney in that case, Rusty Antel, said the couple was divorcing and his client had moved from Columbia to the Topeka area. Court records show the Kahlers' divorce trial was scheduled for Dec. 21.

Court records said the Kahlers had been sparring over their children, and that a hearing was scheduled for January.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reported Columbia City Manager Bill Watkins had asked Kahler to resign in September because of what Watkins called Kahler's "difficult family issues."

A neighbor of Karen Kahler said police were twice called to her home over the summer in response to reports that Kahler had slashed his wife's car tires and ripped out utility cables. Karen Kahler had shared the Columbia home with their teenage daughters and their other child, aged 10.

In Kansas, Anstaett would not comment on whether the third child had been at Wight's home in Burlingame.

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