Archive for Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Attack that knocked out teen’s teeth also shattered family’s sense of security

When Caleb January was walking home from a junior high dance last September with some friends, his group was confronted by some older individuals in an alley. Two of the older men starting hitting and kicking Caleb, knocking out two teeth and causing more damage to the rest of his mouth.

When Caleb January was walking home from a junior high dance last September with some friends, his group was confronted by some older individuals in an alley. Two of the older men starting hitting and kicking Caleb, knocking out two teeth and causing more damage to the rest of his mouth.

April 28, 2010


Two charged in beating appear in court

Two men charged with beating a teen as he walked home from a school dance appeared in Douglas County district court Tuesday. The family of the victim is still seeking justice and peace of mind in the case. Enlarge video

Mary January thought her 13-year-old son would be fine walking home from a fall dance at Central Junior High School.

The next day she was picking up his teeth off the ground in an alley near 13th and New York streets.

“You’d think your child would be safe walking with eight other friends,” January said. “I always thought Lawrence was the safest place there was.”

But that thought was shattered on Sept. 25, when then 13-year-old Caleb January was beaten by two men in an unprovoked attack.

Caleb and his friends were just blocks from the junior high school when four men between the ages of 18 and 20 started yelling at them.

When the men approached them, the group of kids scattered. Caleb was the only one they caught.

“It just happened,” Caleb said. “One grabbed a hold of me, and the other one came up and blindsided me. Once I got hit, I fell to the ground, and one of them kicked me in the chest.”

Caleb was eventually able to get away, running through yards and jumping over fences until he made it to a friend’s house and called police.

He ended up in the emergency room missing two teeth; a third was knocked inches back in his mouth. When all the medical work was done, Caleb lost five teeth in all.

Caleb lost two teeth the night of the attack that were found the next day near the location where he was hit.

Caleb lost two teeth the night of the attack that were found the next day near the location where he was hit.

“It was hard for me to look at, at first,” his mother said. “I just started bawling.”

Police eventually arrested two Lawrence men in connection with the attack.

The Douglas County District Attorney’s office has charged 19-year-old Derek Spencer and 20-year-old Daniel Heneck with two counts of battery and one county of conspiracy to commit battery. All of the crimes are misdemeanors.

“I don’t understand, ’cause you steal a thousand dollars worth of stuff and it’s a felony,” January said. “My son got $13,000 worth of work stolen out of his mouth.”

But the charges could become more severe. Both defendants appeared in Douglas County District Court on Tuesday afternoon, where prosecutor Eve Kemple indicated the charges could be amended to a felony.

Judge Robert Fairchild set a Sept. 29 jury trial for Heneck. Spencer’s attorney asked for more time to meet with her client, who will be back in court May 11 for a trial setting.

The Januarys just want to see justice served. The incident has stolen their sense of security.

“My mom doesn’t let me have that much freedom anymore,” Caleb said. “She just has to drive me everywhere now.”

“I went out and bought a mini-van so I could pick kids up and take them home,” January said. “Caleb hates it. I don’t let him walk anywhere now, not until all this is resolved.”


Hydra 8 years ago

Four men 18 - 20 attack a 13 year old and prosocuters only want a misdemeaner? That's nuts! What about the child abuse laws involved? Sounds like a buch of Jaeger clones.

By the way Jaeger is no longer in Dg County jail. He's been transfered to El Dorado, Kansas where he may serve out the rest of his sentence. Guess having money can keep you out of Leavenworth !

somebodynew 8 years ago

Hydra - good information, but just a point of order. El Dorado is also the RDU (Reception, Diagnostic Unit). All people entering the system start there and then maybe assigned out to another facility. Years ago that was in Topeka, but they changed it awhile back. Basically, he may stay there, or he could be sent to any of the facilities.

Either way, it is good to see he is FINALLY where he belongs.

Tom McCune 8 years ago

Lansing is right next door. That's the state pen. I've worked inside both and Lansing is much nastier than Leavenworth.

GetItRight 8 years ago

Leavenworth is a federal prison. Jaeger was convicted on state charges.

justtired 8 years ago

Just a note.....the charges become federal if the crime crosses state lines.

Maddy Griffin 8 years ago

Leavenworth is a FEDERAL prison. For those convicted of FEDERAL offenses.

LoveThsLife 8 years ago

I'm with you.I find it odd that adults could beat a kid and not be prosecuted for child abuse.....they should be charged with something more than a misdemeanor. This wasn't a bar fight.

gladiatr 8 years ago

I usually encourage discourse and diplomacy, but this is sad. 8 against 2?

Don't get me wrong--I encourage dialog if at all possible, but these kids need to be taught how to fight.

No, really.

Think about it: 8 kids fled. They gave up their tactical advantage and fed one of their friends to these Big Tough Guys (frozen peas?) so the rest could get away. It's awful that C. took that kind of a beating. He fell victim to the "You don't have to be faster than the bear, you just have to be faster than your slowest friend" scenario.

If this kind of B.S. is going on in our neighborhood, these kids need to be helped not to feel powerless in such a situation. It might be distasteful to some, but non-lethal fighting skills provide the kids with options.

Becoming so fearful that you cage the kids is just avoidance. Pretending "it's all a part of growing up" is idiotic. There are options in between the extremes. Empower the kids before one of them decides their teeth are worth the risks of carrying a gun.

8 shorties standing their ground in an organized fashion will make even the most frustrated rednecks reassess their evening's entertainment options.

gccs14r 8 years ago

Re-read the story. They caught two adults, but there were four of them.

gladiatr 8 years ago

Hydra, it sounds as if you have some experience whippin' up on 12-year olds, huh? :P j/k

These kids have electronic devices hanging off every belt loop and purse string on their outfits. I'm not talking about Mortal Kombat on at the intersection of 13th and NY which happens to be what... 4 blocks from the police department--if someone was thinking, and they would've stayed together and someone would've dialed the police, this boy would still have his teeth and you would have a group of young people that perhaps might feel like they actually belong here.

Continued below...

Adrienne Sanders 8 years ago

They're in junior high. They don't have the experience or mental acuity to make the kind of decision to "organize" at that moment. Are you going to start teaching "non-lethal fighting skills" to your eleven year old so they are ready to fight when they get to middle school? That seems pretty ridiculous.

The BS here is that adults thought it was okay to randomly attack a group of kids. Junior high kids should not need to be "empowered" against adults.

gladiatr 8 years ago


You're correct. This isn't an attack on your post or anyone else's comment here. We all agree that this is an atrocious thing to have happened. I think you hit the nail on the head, though.

The kids don't have the experience.

One more time.

They don't have the experience.

Where are they going to get that experience being confined to their home or the inside of a car? The sort of experience and wisdom that they lack doesn't just suddenly arrive at a certain developmental stage (too bad, actually)

Yeah. If I had a young teenager, I would have them enrolled in a judo or aikido class, not necessarily so they could go out and Kick Ass and Take Names, but because such training involves developing the mental discipline and acuity that you have so rightly observed kids lack in regards to when and how to react appropriately. I empathize with this kid because similar things happened to me when I was his age (fortunately, I escaped with all my teeth). Lawrence has the resources for this sort of victim-oriented perception to not have to be present. 13th & NY is a perfect example of how this town faces down these challenges to make something good out of a crappy situation (The lots on the SE corner of this intersection has a garden and a fenced-in area where dogs play where once there was a drug house)

The individuals that jumped these kids are barely considered "legal adult status" themselves. You can be assured that this sort of behavior is not new to them. We can all be rest assured that these punks will be returned to us in either several months or perhaps a couple years with even more experience in thuggery.

I suppose it can be argued that the rest of the community can relax now that these individuals are being prosecuted to whatever extent of the law and that for a short time we won't have to deal with these particular individuals while they filter through the "justice" system, but what then? Where is the "justice" for Caleb? I would be willing to bet the teeth that he lost aren't going to grow back.

Fear is a reaction. It isn't a solution. Fear leads to rage, and rage can lead to some frighteningly final reactions.

And that's what I would like to see: something proactive that would instill a sense of confidence in our youth rather than making them feel like they are prisoners in their own town.

gladiatr 8 years ago

Sorry. The lot that used to contain the drug house is on 12th & NY.

flux 8 years ago

What a shame, keep your head up Caleb! I got jumped by 5 guys my senior year and it took its toll on me mentally, made me paranoid for a while. Shake it off and dont let it get to you son.

Matt Schwartz 8 years ago

I think you might have an uncle or brother or dad named wayne that should take some shots at the two weaklings that did this to caleb.

rbwaa 8 years ago

how can it possibly take more time between now and September 29 to prepare for a trial ... sounds like a delaying tactic to me...and that's one of the biggest problems with our judicial system ... the right to a speedy trial is a joke when the delays are meant to frustrate witnesses ... the right to speedy trials should also apply to the prosecution ...

promitida 8 years ago

This is absolutely awful. It makes me sick. On an unrelated note, HELLO LJWORLD typo in your last sentence. I think she "bought" a mini-van.

Smitty4701 8 years ago

You know when we moved here 22 years ago you could take a walk anytime day or night and feel safe. It is to the point now that I will not even sit on my frunt porch after 10pm. It is really sad that a person can not feel safe on there own porch at night because of all the nuts walking down the street just looking for something or someone to hurt.

beim 8 years ago

really? don't be affraid of lawrence....this type of sheit can happen anywhere. Most likely the group of kids said something to the other thugs that the kids aren't adimitting to. i really don't notice that many nuts around

audibleangel 8 years ago

Yes, it can happen anywhere, but the fact that there are bars located on every block certainly does not help. I don't know about you, but I live off 19th and hear sirens every hour on the hour. From what I've heard Lawrence was never this violent or polluted with toxic people. Especially after dark, you can find dangerous/messed up/ crazy people left and right. Not to mention Lawrence is famous among travelers as panhandling heaven. Not to say they are to blame, a good population of the idiots residing here are the product of crackhead/burnt out parents who didn't care to raise their kids.

and secondly, i am offended you used phrase "other thugs," insinuating these 13 year old kids are thugs in addition to the men that attacked them. For the sake of us white folk with open minds, please deal with / try and hide your racial biases, because it makes those of us that are sane, look really, really bad.

Liberty275 8 years ago

Sickening. How screwed up do you have to be at 20 to viciously beat up little boys? Hopefully the two will get the life they deserve after the government slaps them on the wrist.

Mom and son, best of luck to you in the future. Hopefully every day of your lives will be better than the one before.

greenworld 8 years ago

Start carrying guns, that usually scares dem all away

happy_go_lucky 8 years ago

At age 13? Did you read the article?

Maddy Griffin 8 years ago

Maybe these guys had a problem with his father or his uncles. Pretty cowardly either way.

Kontum1972 8 years ago

how about some generous dentist out there in our city fix this young mans teeth for him free of charge.

Adrienne Sanders 8 years ago

Your six year old is still not going to be able to defend him/herself against more than one adult man. A better lesson would be to get the h8ll away from anyone who's a threat.

ksjayhawk74 8 years ago

Good thing the attackers didn't have any weed, then they'd really have the book thrown at them.

audibleangel 8 years ago

ahhhh, satire at its best. seriously though, great point. slap on the wrist for being the h3ll out of a 13 year old?! god bless america.

jafs 8 years ago

What time was the dance?

I would be concerned about a teen walking in that neighborhood at night - it's not the best neighborhood and hasn't been for some time.

avaholic 8 years ago

Yeah, Take that Kevin Bacon!!!

TheEleventhStephanie 8 years ago

I wouldn't be concerned about letting a whole group of teens walk home together. What concerns me is that obviously none of them knew how to defend themselves or each other, or how to stick up for your friends. What a bunch of ninnies if every single one of them ran away and left this poor kid there getting hid teeth knocked out. It is never a bad idea to teach self defense to people--even kids. But it's just that, defense. They also need to be taught not to pick fights or hit first.

But then again, maybe this kid who lost his teeth was the one who stuck around to defend his friends...and then they scattered and left him there.

This seriously sucks for the kid, either way. I do hope a kind dentist will step up and help him out with his dental needs.

greenworld 8 years ago

Gang iniation or just wrong place at the wrong time? When I was a kid if there was 13 of us and 8 tried to jump us a think we could fend them off. They always say to stay in groups and not walk by yourself, so I think this kid did the right thing. Why did all his friends scatter and hang him out to dry, doesnt seem like a friend to me.

Clark Coan 8 years ago

Why is this newsworthy? Junior high kids get into fights all the time. Sometimes they lose teeth or get broken noses.

ksjayhawk74 8 years ago

Except this wasn't a fight with kids. It was kids being attacked by adults, which is a crime.

audibleangel 8 years ago

It's "newsworthy" because he did NOTHING to provoke this and, being a thirteen year old up against two most likely hammered, and obviously larger men, how was he supposed to defend himself? Would it be different if he were a girl? Clearly some biases here. Lawrence is known for being somewhat safe in comparison to Topeka and inner Kansas City. If people become desensitized to matters like this, it will only happen more and more frequently.

It'd be lovely if people could start caring about others, embrace empathy, and spread awareness about this sort of stuff rather than asking why its worth their time!

KUnlv13 8 years ago

How about a court ordered scared-straight excursion to one of the nearby facilities? Once informed of the pathetic nature of these very young adults actions a couple inked-up, brawny inmates would be happy to convey just where these cowards sit on the brutish totem-pole...

lily 8 years ago

I am really surprised at some of the posts here. Maybe I'm missing all the sarcasm. These are kids. The dances at Central are over at 9. The principal asks that students be picked up promptly and not be left to make their way home. No neighborhood is safe for kids alone. I don't care how many there were, these were kids against legal age adults. Fight or flee, I'd flee every time. These kids had no idea if the 4 had weapons. So why are we criticizing them for running?
I am so sorry that this young man had to go through this. I think he sounds like a brave fellow. If a misdemeanor is all the bad guys get then that's going to cause more trouble. Pretty soon, the kids they picked on aren't going to be kids anymore.

riverdrifter 8 years ago

Jack it to a felony hate crime and give them whatever it takes to make them spend a year in the Graybar Hilton. If it's established as a gang thing, bring RICO charges (an even worse charge for those accused). They make restitution for the full monty. That might make them give up their two missing turd friends in order to share the pain of $13K.

ku12345 8 years ago

when people talk about teenagers going to self defense have to remember that they are dad tried to get me to take tae kwan do but i thought it was wierd and geeky so i stopped going, i mean i would do it now but unless you force them to take it i doubt you will get that many teenagers to sit down in white suits and listen to someone boss them around...even if it is good for them

TheEleventhStephanie 8 years ago

Re: self-defense classes in white suits...I wasn't thinking of martial arts. More of some traditional a$$ kicking skills. This is what happens when kids grow up without fathers!

audibleangel 8 years ago

WOW! classic, white boys pretending like lawrence is the hood. how could they do this to him, he didn't do anything at all to deserve that!! unbelievable... my heart goes out to Caleb and Mary...

youarewhatyoueat 8 years ago

eleventh stephanie, where does it say he has no father? just because he isn't mentioned doesn't mean he's not there or not active in the child's life. i had both a mom and a dad and it was my mom who taught me self defense first (at 7). dad didn't chime in on that front until i was in my 20s. neither would have been effective in this situation anyway--especially not if any of them had any form of weaponry, from a gun down to a beer bottle.

TheEleventhStephanie 8 years ago

Oh, I didn't mean to imply this kid doesn't have a father. Sorry if I did. That's awesome that your mom taught you to defend yourself. Most moms don't do that.

jayhawklawrence 8 years ago

This upset me probably more than anything I have read in the newspaper this year.

I feel so sorry for this young guy and his family.

It is hard to believe that we have these kind of idiots running around loose. How did these guys get so disgustingly bad and so incredibly stupid?

I will certainly be watching to see if our justice system performs as it should and I hope everyone in Lawrence keeps an eye on this.

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