TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) – Topeka finished 2021 with 14 homicides, down 11 from the 25 recorded in 2020, according to WIBW records.
Arrests have been reported in 11 of the 14 homicides in 2021 in the capital city, with a suspect in another homicide shot and killed by Topeka police after the man pointed a weapon at the officers.
Two of the city’s 14 homicides in 2021 remain under investigation with no arrests reported as of Monday.
Here is a look at slayings that occurred in 2021 in Topeka:
• 1. Aurora Exon, 2, died Jan. 5, after being found unresponsive at a home in the 3500 block of S.W. 10th Avenue. After an investigation, the suspect, Jeffrey James Exon, 45, of Topeka was arrested Tuesday, March 30, 2021, and booked into the Shawnee County Jail in connection with first-degree murder; aggravated endangering of a child; and failure to report the death of a child. Exon’s bond was set at $1 million. https://www.wibw.com/2021/03/30/arrest-made-in-january-homicide-of-2-year-old-topeka-girl/
• 2. Michael Stringfield, 42, of Topeka, was shot and killed around 11:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 15, at the White Lakes Plaza Apartments, in the 3700 block of S.W. White Lakes Plaza Drive, authorities said. Officers responding to the scene found Stringfield suffering from gunshot wounds in the parking lot of the apartment complex. Police said Stringfield was pronounced dead at the scene. Three people were taken to police headquarters for questioning. There have been no reports of arrests in the case. For more details, visit https://www.wibw.com/2021/02/16/one-killed-in-overnight-shooting-in-south-central-topeka/.
• 3. Kristi A. Rodriguez, 39, of Chanute, was shot and killed around 10:20 p.m. Friday, March 26, in the 3100 block of S.E. Bryant. Rodriguez was pronounced dead at the scene. Two other people were injured in the incident. Police said Devonta Miller, 28, of Topeka and Harlee Borders, 21, of Marysville, were located Sunday afternoon, March 28, at a Manhattan apartment and were taken into custody without incident. Miller was being held on $1 million bond in the Shawnee County Jail in connection with multiple offenses, including first-degree murder; aggravated kidnapping; aggravated burglary; aggravated battery; and aggravated endangering a child. Borders was being held on $1 million bond in the Shawnee County Jail in connection with first-degree murder; aggravated kidnapping; aggravated burglary; aggravated battery; and aggravated endanger a child. For more information on the shooting, visit https://www.wibw.com/2021/03/27/topeka-police-on-scene-of-incident-in-se-topeka/. For more information on the apprehension of Miller and Borders, visit https://www.wibw.com/2021/03/29/suspects-arrested-and-charged-with-first-degree-murder-in-friday-night-shooting/.
• 4. Emmanuel Torres, 16, was shot and killed around 7:22 p.m. Thursday, April 15, near S.E. 6th Avenue and Chandler. Police found Torres suffering from a gunshot wound at that location. Torres was transported by American Medical Response ambulance to a local hospital. Police said that upon arrival at the hospital, Torres was pronounced dead by medical personnel. For more information, visit https://www.wibw.com/2021/04/16/tpd-publicly-identifies-16-year-old-homicide-victim/. Clint William Smith, 23, of Topeka, was arrested Dec. 14, 2021, in connection with first-degree murder in the death. https://www.wibw.com/2021/12/15/topeka-man-arrested-april-shooting-child/ Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay announced on Dec. 18 that Smith had been charged with premeditated first-degree murder in what was described as a drug-related shooting. https://www.wibw.com/2021/12/18/topeka-man-charged-with-murder-drug-related-shooting-teen/
5. Hester Workman, 46, was found dead Saturday evening, April 24, at a home in the 2800 block of S.W. James. https://www.wibw.com/2021/04/26/police-identify-woman-whose-death-is-being-investigated-as-suspicious-in-nature/. Amadeus Courage Ballou-Meyer, a 16-year-old friend of Workman’s son, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder; aggravated burglary; aggravated battery; interference with law enforcement; and theft. The Shawnee County District Attorney’s office started proceedings requesting that Ballou-Meyer be prosecuted as an adult. https://www.wibw.com/2021/10/28/topeka-teen-accused-killing-friends-mother-will-be-tried-an-adult/
6. Aaron D. Shepherd, 49, of Topeka, was shot and killed around 4:48 a.m. Thursday, May 27, in the 1100 block of S.W. 17th. Jeremy Volle, 34, and Brandon Croskey, 30, both of Topeka, were arrested in connection with Shepherd’s death on Sunday, June 6. Volle was arrested in connection with premeditated first-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon by a felon. His bond was set at $1 million. Croskey was arrested in connection with first-degree murder. His bond also was set at $1 million. https://www.wibw.com/2021/06/07/topeka-police-identify-two-suspects-may-homicide/
7. Shakeita Young, 32, of Topeka, was shot and killed around 5:04 a.m. Saturday, May 29, in the 1800 block of N.E. Burgess Court. Kajun Brock, 31, was arrested Wednesday, June 2, by the U.S. Marshals Service in Topeka. Brock was booked into the Shawnee County Jail in connection with first-degree murder and criminal possession of a firearm by a felon. He was being held in jail on a $1 million bond. https://www.wibw.com/2021/06/02/tpd-saturday-homicide-has-ties-to-topeka-wichita/
8. DaMya Hudnall, 13, of Topeka, died from injuries she suffered around 11:28 a.m. on Saturday, June 12, at 1717 S.E. 31st. Authorities said the shooting was believed to be accidental in nature after toddlers gained access to a loaded gun. Authorities said Dejuan Thomas Yelverton, 22, was the owner and keeper of the gun and had been staying at the residence recently. Yelverton was arrested and booked into the Shawnee County Jail in connection with first-degree murder committed during an inherently dangerous felony; aggravated endangering a child; and criminal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Yelverton was being held in jail on a $250,000 blond. https://www.wibw.com/2021/06/17/man-charged-murder-13-year-old-after-toddlers-found-gun-shot-her/
9. Bradley Bellinder, 51, was shot and killed around 10 p.m. Thursday, June 24, in the 1200 block of N.W. Polk in North Topeka. Responding officers found Bellinder suffering from a gunshot wound. Bellinder was pronounced dead at the scene. Police said they arrested Marshall Stewart IV, 38, on Sunday, June 27, in connection with Bellinder’s death. Stewart was booked into the Shawnee County Jail in connection with second-degree murder and felon in possession of a firearm in connection with Bellinder’s death. Stewart was being held without bond in the Shawnee County Jail. https://www.wibw.com/2021/06/27/suspect-thursday-polk-shooting-taken-into-custody/
10. Navaeh Martinez, 17, died after a shooting that occurred around 10:30 p.m. July 3 at 1104 S.W. Clay. Daisha Corrina Butler, 21, was charged with premeditated first-degree murder and was booked July 4 into the Shawnee County Jail, where she was being held on a $1 million bond. https://www.wibw.com/2021/07/28/affidavit-recounts-fight-before-17-year-old-was-shot-killed/
11. James Epps Jr., 37, died after being shot on Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 24, at the Travelers Inn, 3824 S.W. Topeka Blvd. Isaiah Krainbill, 19, of Topeka, was arrested in connection with the homicide. https://www.wibw.com/2021/08/24/tpd-scene-possible-shooting-travelers-inn/
12. Jennifer A. Morris, 25, of Topeka, was found dead around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 8, at a residence at 3344 S.W. Briarwood Lane. Police identified Jesse. B. Lees, 33, of Topeka, as a suspect in the case. https://www.wibw.com/2021/09/09/suspicious-death-topekas-briarwood-neighborhood-ruled-homicide/ Authorities said JJesse Lees, 33, of Topeka, who had been identified as a suspect in Morris’ death, was shot and killed two days later by police after he pointed a gun at officers. https://www.wibw.com/2021/09/11/kbi-murder-suspect-fled-crash-pointed-gun-officers-before-being-shot/
13. Palmer S. Thompson, 29, of Topeka, was found dead in a burning house around 7:30 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 26, in the 300 block of N.E. Spruce Lane. No arrests have been reported in this case. https://www.wibw.com/2021/09/26/fire-ne-spruce-destroys-home/
14. Adrian Williams, 31, of Olathe, was shot and killed around 12:07 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 20, in the 2000 block of S.E. Pennsylvania Avenue. Officers arrested Christopher Mendez, 21, of Topeka, in connection with first-degree murder in Williams’ death. https://www.wibw.com/2021/11/24/murder-charges-filed-topeka-homicide/
The city’s top 10 homicide totals by year are as follows:
• 1. 30 homicides, 2017
• 2. 28 homicides, 2014
• 3. 25 homicides, 2020
• 4. 24 homicides, 2013
• 5. 23 homicides, 2001
• 6. 22 homicides, 2016
• 7. 19 homicides, tie 1978 and 1996
• 8. 18 homicides, tie 2000 and 2012.
Anyone with information on any of the cases may call Shawnee County Crime Stoppers at 785-234-0007.
Here is a listing of homicide victims so far in 2021 outside the city limits of Topeka in Shawnee County as of Thursday, Sept. 2, according to the Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office:
1. Deborah Stephens, 58, of Topeka, was found dead Tuesday evening, April 27, at the Coachlight South mobile home park at 801 S.W. 57th. Deputies were called to the scene around 5:30 p.m. and found a woman — later identified as Stephens — deceased at that location. Jon Kelly Ewing, 61, of Scranton, was arrested and booked into the Shawnee County Jail in connection with voluntary manslaughter. He was later charged with first-degree murder; aggravated kidnapping; aggravated burglary; criminal threat; and interference with law enforcement.
2. Hannah L. King, 20, of Topeka, died after she was shot in a murder-suicide on Friday, Sept. 3, at 1601 S.W. 69th Terrace in Montara, authorities said. The suspect, Connor M. O’Mara, 21, of Topeka, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Authorities said King and O’Mara were girlfriend and boyfriend. https://www.wibw.com/2021/09/04/man-woman-found-dead-domestic-related-incident-montara-neighborhood/
Until April, officials said, Shawnee County last recorded a homicide outside the Topeka city limits in 2019.
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Topeka ends 2021 with 14 homicides, down 11 from 2020