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Saturday, April 5, 2014

Six: We will charge somebody with murder

BY TIM POTTER
The Wichita Eagle

GREAT BEND — Monday was a milestone day in the Alicia DeBolt case.

It was the first time since the 14-year-old disappeared and a worker found her burned body that Attorney General Steve Six said that murder charges will be filed.

Six said he's "confident murder charges will be filed" in Alicia's death.

"We will charge somebody with murder,'' Six said. He did not say who the murder charges will be brought against but said he expected the charges "in the not-too-distant future."

His comments came outside the Barton County Courthouse shortly after Adam Longoria made his first court appearance on charges of vehicle burglary and theft.

Six continued to refer to Longoria, 36, as a "person of interest" in the teen's death.

Asked whether Longoria was the only focus of the investigation, Six responded that detectives "haven't closed any doors in this case" and were pursuing all leads. He said the investigation is "proceeding in an orderly fashion."

Dozens of investigators from agencies including the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, Barton County Sheriff's Office and Great Bend Police Department have been working on the case "with very little sleep," Six said.

During the Monday morning court hearing, Six asked for and Judge Hannelore Kitts granted a motion to set Longoria's bail at $150,000. Kitts said the bond amount "sounds reasonable to me."

Six contended that after Longoria's Great Bend house was searched as part of the homicide investigation, he fled in a stolen vehicle.

It was a "desperate act" triggered by the homicide investigation, Six told the judge.

"I believe that the defendant is in a desperate state of mind," Six said.

Six contended that Longoria poses a flight risk and a threat to public safety.

Longoria, who did not yet have an attorney, told the judge he didn't understand how he posed a flight risk.

"I've cooperated with the agencies from day one,'' said Longoria, who wore orange-and-white-striped jail clothes and ankle chains. After a deputy removed Longoria's handcuffs, he cracked his knuckles.

He is a muscular, stocky man with a thick neck and shaved hair on the sides and back, exposing scars on the back of his head.

Longoria said authorities told him after questioning last week that he was not being held and could "go as I pleased."

After the court appearance, Six said the killing of a 14-year-old, "taken from the community," is a "horrendous, horrendous tragedy."

Alicia, a cheerleader with brown hair and blue eyes, who liked to wear brightly colored clothes and flip-flops, was about to start her freshman year at Great Bend High. She was looking forward to attending a school-related banquet scheduled the night after she disappeared.

Six said his office has met constantly with Alicia's family. He asked again Monday that their privacy be respected.

Alicia's family attended Monday's hearing and sat quietly and listened intently in the front row of the courtroom.

Six said Longoria has an extensive criminal history, including at least 13 felony convictions. Four of those convictions were for crimes against a person, including aggravated robbery.

Longoria also has a pending case in North Carolina in which he is charged with calling in false threats to an elementary school, Six said.

Longoria, who was released from a Texas prison in May, mailed some personal items to Texas around the time authorities say he stole a car from his employer and left Great Bend.

Longoria later told the judge he mailed a couple of cowboy hats and a pair of pants.

Six requested that if Longoria is able to post bond, that the court hold a hearing before Longoria could be released. Kitts said such a hearing would be held.

She scheduled a review by attorneys in the case for Sept. 7.

Authorities say Longoria stole a Ford Explorer from his employer, Venture Corp., early Friday. Around noon that day, the Kansas Highway Patrol arrested him in the vehicle on I-70 after authorities issued a statewide alert.

Alicia's burned body was found Tuesday afternoon — at a Venture asphalt plant west of Great Bend where Longoria worked. An asphalt plant employee found her body more than two days after she was last seen leaving her Great Bend home and getting into a dark-colored SUV.

Longoria's 31-year-old live-in girlfriend told The Eagle that he left their home — a few blocks from Alicia's house — about 11 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 21. That was around the time Alicia was seen getting into the SUV.

The girlfriend said he drove off in her 2002 black Ford Escape, which authorities have since impounded.

Reach Tim Potter at 316-268-6684 or tpotter@wichitaeagle.com.

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