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Kansas man accused of killing girl, burning her remains

A 38-year-old Kansas man is on trial for allegedly luring a 14-year-old cheerleader out of her house in the middle of the night, murdering her and burning her body.

Police think the man also attempted to sexually assault the girl, who lived in Great Bend, Kansas. Prosecutors charged him with capital murder, attempted rape, criminal solicitation of a minor, vehicle burglary and theft of property.

According to police, the man met the girl in July 2010 at a birthday party. He had only been out of prison for aggravated robbery for three months when he encountered the girl.

Police allege the man was immediately captivated by the 14-year-old and provided her with alcohol at the party. He also became upset when the girl left the party with another male.

The day after the party, the girl began exchanging texts with the man. Prosecutors say they exchanged 55 messages the first day, and he repeatedly tried to get her into a car with him.

On August 21, 2010, prosecutors say the girl agreed to go to a party at the man's house. She left her house about midnight to meet him at his car. At 12:57 a.m., prosecutors say the man texted her phone saying, "There isn't going 2 b a party never mind."

In between the time the girl left her house and the final text, prosecutors believe the man attempted to rape the girl, killed her and set her body on fire at an asphalt plant located south of Great Bend.

On Aug. 22, 2010, the girl's parents reported her missing. Three days later, the remains of her body were found with traces of duct tape on her ankles and face. Her body had been so badly burned that investigators were unable to determine a definite cause of death.

The man was an employee at the asphalt plant. Police officers arrested him a few days later after he was spotted driving an SUV stolen from the asphalt plant. He denies having anything to do with the girl's death.

There is no doubt that these are serious allegations. However, it is important for law enforcement personnel to ensure that they have the right suspect. A thorough investigation will be conducted to verify the identity of the girl's killer. Sometimes, scientific evidence such as DNA can be used by investigators to exonerate or verify the identity of a suspect. It is important for authorities to make sure that they have the right person responsible for the crime. Additionally, it is equally important for all suspects to be afforded the protection guaranteed for all citizens under our nation's constitution.

Source: The Washington Post, "Trial looms for man accused of luring 14-year-old Kansas girl by text, burning her body," March 24, 2012

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