Fiancée testifies that defendant in murder case talked of an alien attack in weeks leading up to shooting deaths

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

Rodney E. Marshall is pictured Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023, at a hearing in Douglas County District Court.

A woman testified on Tuesday in Douglas County District Court that her fiancé who is accused in the shooting deaths of two men was talking about an alien attack in the weeks preceding the incident.

Rodney E. Marshall, 52, faces two counts of first-degree murder, five counts of attempted capital murder of a law enforcement officer and one count of attempted murder of a civilian, according to charging documents. The charge is in connection with the shooting deaths of William D. O’Brien, 43, of Lawrence, and Shelby McCoy, 52, of Lawrence, on July 31, 2022, at separate locations.

Police believe Marshall killed McCoy in the 1100 block of Tennessee Street, then drove a moped across town to shoot O’Brien in the 300 block of Northwood Lane before running from police and shooting at pursuing officers.

On Tuesday, the court heard more evidence during the second half of a preliminary hearing that began in August. At that hearing Rhonda Salvador, O’Brien’s girlfriend, testified that O’Brien had been put on a “hit list” targeting child molesters created by Marshall days before O’Brien was killed. Detective Meghan Bardwell testified that investigators had located that list in Marshall’s home and that both O’Brien and McCoy were on it, as the Journal-World reported. Authorities have said they had no reason to believe the men were child molesters.

Marshall’s fiancée, Crystal Fredericks, on Tuesday testified that she had interacted with Marshall several times on the night of the incident but didn’t suspect anything until the next morning.

Fredericks said she noticed that Marshall had packed some strange things in her truck that morning. When Chief Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Tatum asked Fredericks about those preparations, Fredericks said Marshall told her that “the aliens were coming” to get him.

In the weeks leading up to the incident Marshall had been describing an “alien attack” in which all ATMs would be shut down, Fredericks said. She said that an old friend was staying with her and Marshall about a week before the shootings and that the friend was “into conspiracies” about child sex trafficking. Fredericks said she did not connect Marshall’s alien claims with the friend’s child sex trafficking claims.

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

Police block off the 3400 block of Harvard Road just off of Kasold after a double homicide.

Fredericks said that the friend created the molester list and that Marshall acknowledged knowing people on it. She said the friend called her after the shootings and asked her to destroy the list. Fredericks said she could not locate it. Police later recovered the list.

On the night of the incident, she testified, things were “chaotic” when she got home from work.

“I was frustrated with how things were going in our relationship,” Fredericks said.

When Tatum asked what she meant by “frustrated,” Fredericks said that Marshall had been acting off. The night before the incident, Marshall was feeling unsafe in his home in the 3400 block of Harvard Road, so the two had rented a hotel room.

The night of the incident, she and two friends went to retrieve her and Marshall’s belongings from the hotel, while Marshall slept at the house.

She said Marshall then showed up on his moped at the hotel as she and her friends were leaving. She said Marshall claimed to be there retrieving their belongings. She told him she had already collected everything, and he left. She said he arrived back at their house on Harvard before her.

In the first part of the hearing in August, Bardwell, the detective, presented a timeline of traffic camera footage of Marshall stopping at that hotel between when police believe he shot McCoy and then drove to shoot O’Brien.

Fredericks said Tuesday that she knew McCoy and had met O’Brien once or twice. She said that Marshall had never told her that he suspected they were child molesters.

Fredericks said that she did not know if Marshall was on drugs the night of the incident but that he had been experimenting with a drug called “wet” that she believed was embalming fluid.

She said that the next morning when she got into her truck, with Marshall at the wheel, she believed they were going to visit friends in the Kansas City area, but as soon as they got onto the road police tried to pull them over and Marshall refused to stop.

“I started screaming. He wouldn’t stop. I called my mom and told her we were in a chase. The rest is a blur,” Fredericks said.

photo by: Lawrence Police Department UAV Drone Image

The Lawrence Police Department on Monday, Aug. 22, 2022, showed video of a suspect in a July 2022 double homicide being arrested.

She said that she doesn’t remember the chase but remembers Marshall saying he was firing at police to make them back off, not to harm them. She said she remembers the noise of the gun but only saw it briefly.

Lawrence police detective M.T. Brown on Tuesday testified that during the chase he was driving parallel to Marshall in an unmarked car. Brown said he took Marshall into custody when the chase finally ended outside of Eudora.

As soon as Marshall was in custody, Brown said, he began to tell what happened that night. He was talking so fast that Brown said he had to pull over on the side of the highway to read Marshall his Miranda rights because Marshall was so determined to make a statement.

“He did this because of an investigation into child molesters,” Brown said Marshall told him, and people would find the shootings “justified.”

Brown said Marshall claimed to “have lawyers who would be mad that he was talking to police,” but Marshall wanted to talk anyway.

Marshall told Brown that he had previously been in prison and had run-ins with child molesters, Brown said.

Brown said that Marshall told him that his first victim, McCoy, had helped Marshall build and modify firearms, and Marshall said that he used a pistol McCoy had modified to shoot McCoy. In previous testimony in August, McCoy’s housemate, Shawn Demaline, testified that McCoy also repainted Marshall’s moped, which Demaline saw Marshall driving after McCoy was killed.

Brown said that Marshall continued to talk once they reached police headquarters and admitted confronting and shooting O’Brien with a rifle at his front door on Northwood Lane.

Brown said that Marshall told him that he was sorry for shooting at police during the chase, that he just wanted to escape and that Fredericks didn’t know about the shootings.

Marshall then asked Brown if he should get a mental health evaluation to help him during trial. Brown said Marshall seemed competent at the time.

Marshall is represented by appointed counsel, Cline Boone and Matthew Cohen. Cohen asked Brown how many times Marshall mentioned a lawyer during the interrogation. Brown objected to the use of the word “interrogation” to describe the interview.

“Interrogation begins when I start taking him to task about what he said,” Brown said.

Brown said that Marshall mentioned an attorney several times but that Marshall was always the one who initiated the conversations and Brown was just responsive in collecting Marshall’s statements.

Cohen then asked if Brown thought Marshall was on drugs that morning and suggested that Marshall was maybe on a drug called “dragon’s tears” or “dragon’s blood.” Brown said that Marshall mentioned being on a drug with a similar name and that he believed it was some type of methamphetamine but that Marshall did not seem impaired.

Cohen pressed the issue and said that Marshall was hallucinating during the interview. Brown said he doesn’t know if Marshall was hallucinating but in the latter part of the interview Marshall asked for a blanket so he could lie down and “chill.”

Cohen asked if Brown or anyone else had made contact with Fredericks’ friend to confirm that she had created the alleged hit list. Brown said that he did not personally try to contact her and was not in a position to know if other detectives had pursued that lead.

After testimony concluded Tuesday, Judge Amy Hanley said that since the hearing had been split in two, she would need to review transcripts from both hearings to determine whether to order Marshall to stand trial. She scheduled a third setting for the preliminary hearing on Jan. 11, 2024, when the state and the defense will make final arguments.

Marshall is being held at the Douglas County Jail on a $1.5 million bond.

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World

Rodney E. Marshall, center, speaks with his attorneys, Matthew Cohen, left, and Cline Boone, right, on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023, at a hearing in Douglas County District Court.


Welcome to the new Our old commenting system has been replaced with Facebook Comments. There is no longer a separate username and password login step. If you are already signed into Facebook within your browser, you will be able to comment. If you do not have a Facebook account and do not wish to create one, you will not be able to comment on stories.