Independence Examiner, Tuesday afternoon 06/12/01

KC man charged in '97 homicide

By Ronnie Wachter

The Examiner

A nearly four-year-old murder case was made fresh Monday when Jackson County prosecutors charged a 22-year-old Kansas City man with first-degree murder in a 1997 slaying of an Independence woman.

Jackson County deputies ar rested Byron C. Case Monday at his home in Kansas City, almost nine months after a witness named him as Anastasia WitbolsFeugen's killer.

She disappeared in October 1997, and a Jackson County deputy discovered her body Oct. 23, 1997, in Lincoln Cemetery in Blue Summit. Deputies interviewed WitbolsFeugen's boy friend, Justin Bruton, who shot himself in DeSoto, Kansas, days after her killing.

Sheriff's Department Capt. Graham Kempster said a woman who said she was an acquaintance of the victim and a witness to the murder gave her account to the Sheriff's Department Sept. 19, the probable cause statement said. Kempster said this morning that the department had spent last winter and spring investigating the validity of the report and locating Case, whom they believed to be somewhere in St. Louis.

"As far as we know, he just recently came back to the Kansas City area," Kempster said.

Deputies arrested Case just after 1 p.m. without incident, Kempster said. Despite Bruton's suicide, he said the case had remained open through the years.

"We've been working on it and picking up leads ever since 1997," he said.

According to the statement, the witness said she was riding with Bruton and Case on their way to pick up WitbolsFeugen, 18, when the men told her they planned to kill her friend. They picked up WitbolsFeugen and drove her to Lincoln Cemetery, 8604 E. Truman Road, where Case shot her in her face with a long-barreled firearm, the report said.

Her father, Robert WitbolsFeugen of Independence, had long maintained that the killing was unsolved. He is suing Jackson County to open records regarding the Sheriff's Department's actions while investigating the case, but said he was happy about the progress made Monday.

"There's a great deal of uncertainty that has now been addressed," he said.

Case was to be arraigned this afternoon.

To reach Ronnie Wachter, e-mail or call 350-6323.

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