Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

No arrests made in death of man found inside burning house south of Lawrence

A crew works Monday, Nov. 6, 2017, on the porch of a house at 1104 East 1200 Road where the body of 34-year-old Joel Wales, of Eudora, was found Friday, Nov. 3, 2017, when firefighters and the Douglas County Sheriff's Office responded to a report of a fire and gunshots. The sheriff's office is investigating the incident as a homicide.

A crew works Monday, Nov. 6, 2017, on the porch of a house at 1104 East 1200 Road where the body of 34-year-old Joel Wales, of Eudora, was found Friday, Nov. 3, 2017, when firefighters and the Douglas County Sheriff's Office responded to a report of a fire and gunshots. The sheriff's office is investigating the incident as a homicide.

November 14, 2017

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Who killed Joel Wales, and how was the fire ignited at the house where his body was discovered?

Authorities say they have not made an arrest in Douglas County’s most recent homicide, and are not releasing more details about what they have learned in their investigation so far.

“It’s still very much an active, ongoing investigation,” Sgt. Kristen Channel of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday.

Channel said no arrests had been made in the case, which is being investigated as a homicide.

She declined to answer whether a suspect or suspects have been developed, as well as how authorities believe Wales was killed or how the fire started.

The body of Wales, 34, of Eudora was discovered shortly after 9 p.m. Nov. 3 inside a house at 1104 East 1200 Road, just south of Lawrence.

According to Douglas County property records, the house is owned by Gary Athey. Athey is the “companion” of Wales’ mother, Debbie Wales, according to Joel Wales’ obituary.

The Journal-World has been unable to reach Athey or relatives to comment about Wales. Neighbors declined to discuss the situation with a reporter in the days following the incident.

A crew works Monday, Nov. 6, 2017, on the porch of a house at 1104 East 1200 Road where the body of 34-year-old Joel Wales, of Eudora, was found Friday, Nov. 3, 2017, when firefighters and the Douglas County Sheriff's Office responded to a report of a fire and gunshots. The sheriff's office is investigating the incident as a homicide.

A crew works Monday, Nov. 6, 2017, on the porch of a house at 1104 East 1200 Road where the body of 34-year-old Joel Wales, of Eudora, was found Friday, Nov. 3, 2017, when firefighters and the Douglas County Sheriff's Office responded to a report of a fire and gunshots. The sheriff's office is investigating the incident as a homicide.

According to a previous news release from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, deputies were initially dispatched to a report of a house fire with the sound of gunshots in the area.

Deputies found the house on fire but couldn’t enter, according to the release. Arriving firefighters extinguished the fire and pulled the body of a man from the home. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

No one else was inside the house.

The following Monday, the sheriff’s office publicly identified the man as Wales and announced his death was being investigated as a homicide.

Channel said anyone with information about the incident is urged to call the sheriff’s office at 843-0250 or Douglas County Crime Stoppers at 843-TIPS (8477).

Wales attended school in Perry and at the time of his death was working as an HVAC technician with River City Heating and Cooling, according to his obituary. He enjoyed golfing, fishing, bowling and spending time with friends and his daughter, his obituary said.

The family suggests memorial contributions for the benefit of Wales’ daughter, sent in care of Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home, 601 Indiana St., Lawrence KS 66044.

Contact public safety reporter Sara Shepherd
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