Harvey County attorney hopes homicides not becoming a trend


HARVEY COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – Thursday morning’s triple homicide in Harvey County comes less than four months after the last triple homicide in the county, and nearly a year after the mass shooting at the Excel plant in Hesston.

KSN spoke with a handful of residents in Harvey County Thursday, and while many didn’t want to be interviewed on camera, they said the two triple homicides in the country in such a short period of time is concerning. Even some county officials expresses shock at what’s happened in a few short months.

“You find out it’s just a short ways from your backyard, it really hits close to home,” said Laurvel Smith who lives near the scene of the latest triple murder.

Harvey County Attorney David Yoder says the two sets of homicides have been taxing on investigators.

“It has been extremely draining,” said Yoder. “That is the best word I can use to describe this year for our community.”

There are eight law enforcement agencies in Harvey County, and according to statistics from the Kansas Bureau of Investigation those agencies reported zero murders in the county between 2012 and 2015.

Then, in 2016, three people were killed in an attack at Excel nearly a year ago. Following that, three people were killed in what investigators say was a drug-related crime. And now, another triple homicide is under investigation.

KSN asked Yoder if this is becoming a trend.

“I certainly hope not,” said Yoder. “I certainly hope this is not a trend. I hope this is just a string of really bad circumstances that have occurred in the community and I hope this is the last of them.”

As for residents who might be concerned, Yoder said he’s never seen anything like the two sets of killings.

“It’s a community that I was born in, that I’ve lived all my life in, and I’ve never seen anything like this in my life, and I hope that I never do again,” Yoder said.

Out of the residents KSN spoke with, most say they do still feel safe living in Newton and Harvey County for the most part. Only one person said they’re considering moving because of what has taken place over the last few months.

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