Monday, May 13, 2013

Families, Ottawa community grapple to understand quadruple homicide

By IAN CUMMINGS and SHAUN HITTLE, The Lawrence Journal-World

Saturday evening, the family of missing 18-month-old Lana-Leigh Bailey was given the bad news they had expected, but prayed wouldn't arrive.

Police had discovered what they believe were the remains of the missing toddler, found in rural Osage County.

Nonetheless, Sunday morning, Lana-Leigh's family welcomed the media into their Olathe home, discussing the case at length, and sharing their pain with the world.

"I think we're just holding up pretty well," Wilma Pettijohn, the great-grandmother of Lana-Leigh, said. "We have a close family and that really helps."

Their family has endured a trying week of bad news, starting with confirmation that Lana-Leigh's mother, Kaylie Bailey, 21, was one of three suspected homicide victims, along with Bailey’s boyfriend, Andrew Adam Stout, 30, of Ottawa; and Steven Eugene White, 31, of Ottawa.

The bodies were found last Monday and Tuesday on a property in rural Ottawa.

On Friday, 27-year-old Kyle T. Flack was charged with four counts of murder and one count of rape in the case. He's being held on a $10 million bond.

Though police had said they presumed Lana-Leigh also was dead, she was not found in the first several days of the case. More than 100 law enforcement officials spent the week conducting a massive search for the missing toddler, until the body was found Saturday night.

"It's a real comfort to us," Pettijohn said of the announcement of the body's discovery. " We had known there was a possibility her body would never be found, and this gives us a real sense of closure."

Healing and understanding in the wake of the quadruple homicide, however, will take time, said Scott Dickinson, pastor of Cherry Street Wesleyan Church in Ottawa and chaplain for the Franklin County Sheriff's Office.

The case overshadowed Sunday's services on a day that normally would've been devoted to Mother's Day and local graduations, he said.

"I wish I was smart enough to have the answers," Dickinson said of working with parishioners, including members of the Bailey family. "Just listen. Be ready to hug them."