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Body found in rural Butler County yard; woman arrested

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013, at 7:51 a.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013, at 7:22 p.m.

The caller said there could be a body in the backyard of a house in rural Butler County.

“Lo and behold, there was,” Butler County Sheriff Kelly Herzet said.

The badly decomposed body was “pretty much in plain view” in the back yard of the house at 9606 SW 110th, Herzet said.

Deputies went to the large house a couple of miles west of Augusta and south of U.S. 54 after the call came in to 911 at about 3:30 p.m. Monday. They knocked on the front door, but there was no response.

Thinking they may have simply not been heard, Herzet said, the deputies went to the backyard to knock on the back door. That’s when they saw the body.

“The body had been there for quite some time,” Herzet said. “It was very, very decomposed.”

The home’s owner, Susan May, wasn’t home when deputies arrived. She was found later at a store in Augusta and taken in for questioning.

May, 54, was later booked into the Butler County Jail on suspicion of voluntary manslaughter, two counts of obstructing the legal process and criminal desecration of a body. She is scheduled to be arraigned in Butler County District Court on Wednesday afternoon.

An autopsy is being conducted to determine the identity of the person and how they died, Herzet said.

“We think that there’s enough there to tell us this wasn’t an accident,” he said.

Charges could be amended depending on the outcome of the autopsy and further investigation, Herzet said.

“It’s still pretty early in the investigation,” he said.

Detectives have finished processing the outdoor portion of the crime scene, he said. Now they’re processing the inside of the house.

Herzet called the case “one of the stranger ones we have had lately.”

Most of the time, welfare-check calls turn out to be nothing, he said. The person they’re checking on is fine.

But in this case, someone is dead, and authorities can’t even tell if it’s a man or a woman. Herzet said he’s hoping fingerprints or dental records can provide answers.

The sheriff’s department worked a shooting at the same address in 2000, Herzet said.

Reach Stan Finger at 316-268-6437 or sfinger@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @StanFinger.

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