Kansas City Star Metro Section, Tuesday 06/12/01

Murder charge filed in 1997 case

An acquaintance provided the tip that led to arrest

By James Hart
The Kansas City Star

Almost four years ago, Anastasia WitbolsFeugen -- an 18-year-old college student who wanted to travel the world -- was found shot to death in Lincoln Cemetery, between Kansas City and Independence.

On Monday, Jackson County prosecutors filed a first-degree murder charge against the man they believe shot her: Byron C. Case, now 22, of Kansas City. The victim's father said his daughter had known the suspect from school.

Case also faces a charge of armed criminal action. He was in the Jackson County Jail on Monday night.

According to authorities, Case was the boyfriend of one of WitbolsFeugen's acquaintances.

Last September that acquaintance got in touch with the authorities.

The friend said that she, Case and Justin Bruton -- WitbolsFeugen's boyfriend -- were on their way to see the victim when the two men said they planned to kill WitbolsFeugen.

The witness said she was there when Case shot her friend in the face in October 1997.

When WitbolsFeugen was missing, police questioned Bruton. He said he and the victim had fought. Bruton said she asked to be let out of the car near the cemetery.

The next day her body was found. Just days after that, Bruton died of a gunshot wound near De Soto in Johnson County. Police ruled it a suicide.

Capt. Graham Kempster of the Jackson County Sheriff's Department said the investigation of the WitbolsFeugen murder had been pursued over the years, but said the new witness helped break the case open.

WitbolsFeugen's father called the charges a "turning point." He said he had worked to keep attention focused on the case.

"A loss like this, an unsolved murder case, weighs very heavily on the family," Robert WitbolsFeugen said.

For years the father thought there was more behind the story of his daughter's murder.

"A lot of people look at it as a murder-suicide," Robert WitbolsFeugen told The Star in 1998. "That hasn't been proven yet....A killer may still be out there, and if so, someone has information that can help, but they think the case is closed."

To reach James Hart, call (816) 234-4902 or send e-mail to jhart@kcstar.com.
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