“Seeing him in person made it all real for me,” Graham said of the 27-year-old accused killer’s first appearance before District Judge Thomas Sachse Monday. “I feel for the families. This is a sad day in Kansas.”
Two days after the body of a baby believed to be the fourth victim in a multiple homicide was discovered in Osage County, a courtroom crowded with family members and law enforcement faced the man accused in the killings.
Surrounded by guards and wearing a bullet proof vest under his orange-striped jail suit, Flack shuffled into Franklin County District Court, 301 S. Main St., Ottawa. The appearance was brief, with his Topeka attorney, Ronald Evans, receiving documents necessary to better understand the case. A court-appointed attorney, Evans is a defense lawyer who has handled capital murder cases.
Law enforcement officers from the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and the Ottawa Police Department took up positions behind the defense table, in the gallery and at every entrance and exit to the courtroom, with more officers in the hallway as security was ramped up for the proceeding that only lasted a few minutes.
Judge Sachse set a status conference 1:15 p.m. July 8 in district court. A preliminary hearing or “preliminary examination” in the case is expected to be scheduled at the status conference.
The Franklin County Attorney’s office filed criminal charges Friday against Flack, including two counts of capital murder, four counts of murder in the first degree, one count of rape and one count of criminal possession of a firearm. The two capital murder charges make Flack eligible for the death penalty.
Flack, who previously was considered a “person of interest” in the multiple homicide case, was arrested Thursday and booked into Franklin County jail on suspicion of first degree murder. The arrest came after a grisly discovery earlier in the week of three bodies in rural Ottawa.
The bodies discovered May 6 and May 7 at 3197 Georgia Road, west of Ottawa, were those of Kaylie Bailey, 21, Andrew Stout, 30, and Steve White, 31. Bailey, along with her 18-month-old daughter, Lana Bailey, were reported missing May 3. Stout and White reportedly hadn’t been seen since April 25.
The baby, Lana Bailey, was presumed dead though a body believed to be hers wasn’t recovered until Saturday night. An Osage County Sheriff’s deputy discovered some items before dusk Saturday that were believed to be connected to a homicide investigation, Franklin County Sheriff Jeff Richards told reporters at a 1 a.m. Sunday press conference in front of his office at 305 S. Main St., Ottawa. Franklin County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the Osage County scene and confirmed the items were part of the quadruple homicide investigation.
“It is with great sadness that I report a body found in Osage County is believed to be the remains of 18-month-old Lana Bailey,” Richards told reporters. “We have to wait for the forensics examination, but we are pretty confident it is Lana, making her the fourth victim in our quadruple homicide investigation.”
A difficult day
Family members of the victims hugged each other after Flack’s appearance and were quickly ushered into Franklin County Attorney Stephen Hunting’s office across the hall from the courtroom.
“I didn’t get a good look at [Flack] with all the police surrounding him,” Carla Fisher, Steven White’s mother who was in the courtroom Monday, said. “I just want to know why he killed them, especially my son.”
Fisher said she’s concerned that, given Flack’s reported history with mental illness, he will try to use insanity as a defense.
“If he was competent enough to kill them, he is competent enough to stand trial,” Fisher said.
Emotionally, Fisher said, it was a difficult day, despite the shortness of Flack’s court appearance.
“It was hard to be there, but I wanted to be there for my son,” Fisher said.
Living 75 miles away in Chanute, Fisher said it might be difficult to make every court proceeding as the case plays out over the coming months, but she said she plans to be in the courtroom every time Flack is there.
Fisher said the last time she talked with her son was in early April.
“My birthday was on [April] 23rd, and Steven didn’t call me,” Fisher said. “That was not like him. He has always called me every year on my birthday, but I knew he was out of minutes [on his cell phone] and I thought, ‘Maybe he couldn’t get to town to make the call.’”
When she heard May 6 that a couple of bodies had been found at the Georgia Road property where her son had been living, Fisher said, “I knew right then Steven was gone.”
Fisher said county attorney Hunting explained the charges to family members in his office after the court proceeding.
“He basically told us what is expected to happen for the next few months, and asked us to be patient,” she said.
Not being able to lay her son to rest because of forensic examinations of his body has been difficult, Fisher said, but she said she understands why.
“It’s been a week and I can’t bury him,” Fisher said Monday evening. “They haven’t released his body yet. And that makes it hard on me. But if they need to hold the bodies longer to make sure they have all the evidence they need to convict [Flack], then they can keep him a little longer.”
Justice in action
Sheriff Richards has not commented on the causes of death, nor the motives for the killings. Court documents, however, indicate a firearm was used in all four homicides.
Kaylie Bailey and her daughter were last seen at the Georgia Road residence, the sheriff’s office said previously, where Stout and White had lived with Flack. Bailey reportedly was in a relationship with Stout. Her body was found May 6 in a detached garage on the property. The two men were found May 6 and May 7 in the home, according to the sheriff’s office.
The White killing occurred sometime between April 20 and April 28, according to the Franklin County Attorney’s Office. The other three killings reportedly happened between April 28 and May 6.
“I think the death penalty would be appropriate in this case,” Graham, who said he was a friend of Stout’s brother, Jackson Anderson, told reporters after Flack’s court appearance Monday.
Richards told reporters after court Monday the justice system is proceeding the way it should.
“Mr. Flack has rights, and he is presumed innocent until he is found guilty,” Richards said. “I’m confident the justice system will work the way it is supposed to. These cases just take some time.”
After the bodies were found early last week, authorities began searching for Flack, as well as a black 2007 Toyota Corolla he was driving and that had last been seen with Bailey and her daughter at the farm. The vehicle was recovered 8:30 p.m. May 7 in Emporia. Flack later was taken into custody at about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday in Emporia, where he had been held on an Osage County warrant for failure to register as a violent offender, Osage County Attorney Brandon Jones said, according to KVOE radio.
Shawn Bailey, Lana Bailey’s father, is held in an unrelated case in the Laclede County Jail in Lebanon, Mo., on two bonds of $50,000 each in relation to receiving stolen property, burglary and probation violation, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal. He arrived at the jail Jan. 17, 2013.
Back in court
Monday wasn’t Flack’s first time in Sachse’s courtroom. The judge previously had sentenced him to 59 months in prison for intentional attempted murder in the second degree for the 2005 shooting of Steven Dale Free. He was paroled in 2009 after serving less than four years. Free, then-47, was found in the yard near a mobile home at Third and Cherry streets after being shot multiple times with a small caliber gun, according to Herald archives. Free survived the incident, but died in December 2011.
The fact Flack was in court again didn’t come as a surprise to Matthew Andrews, Ottawa. Andrews said he previously worked with Flack at Ottawa Sanitation Service for about four months. He was outside the courtroom Monday as a show of support for the victims and their loved ones.
“I’m just here for the family,” Andrews said Monday outside the court building. “I don’t know the family, but I know Kyle.”
Andrews said he didn’t work with Flack that long or know him that well, but he knew him well enough to say he had some problems.
“He had a real drug problem, too,” Andrews said. “I think he was all whacked out [on drugs] when he [killed the victims]. He was always tweaking.”
Andrews said he didn’t personally know any of the victims, but he had seen Andrew Stout a few times.
“My old lady [knew Kaylie Bailey and Steven White],” he said. “She’s at the house. I told her to stay at home ‘cause she don’t need this.”
Andrews said he shares the same emotions and feelings about the tragedy as other members of the community, but doesn’t believe the crime could have been prevented.
“No, nothing could help him,” he said. “[I feel] disgusted and hurt at the same time.”
Herald Staff Writer Abby Crosthwait contributed to this article.