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Officers search roadsides, park near Valley Center-area shooting scene

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013, at 11:38 a.m.
  • Updated Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013, at 8:41 p.m.

Officers on foot and on horseback Tuesday fanned out from a house where a Valley Center-area couple were shot Friday night, apparently looking for evidence.

By Tuesday night, law enforcement vehicles had deployed to a park off Woodlawn north of K-96, miles south of the house. A Sedgwick County sheriff’s patrol car blocked a parking lot for the park, and investigators used lights to help them work in the darkness. No official could be reached to confirm whether the investigation was related to the shooting. A 911 dispatch supervisor said he could say only that it involved “follow-up.” A little after 6 p.m., several vehicles, including county fire trucks, left the park, which has a lake. The patrol car continued to block the entrance.

Earlier Tuesday, officers on foot appeared to be looking along both sides of 109th Street North between Oliver and Woodlawn. By Tuesday afternoon, they had moved to the south and west, along 101st Street, toward I-135. Later, five Wichita police officers on horses slowly moved along 109th.

The investigations came a day after firefighters searched a pond near the house on 109th Street where Melissa Bluml and her husband were shot. Bluml, a 53-year-old bank vice president, died Saturday. Her husband, whose name hasn’t been released, remained in critical condition Tuesday.

The Blumls are known in the Valley Center community partly because of their support of school activities. Their sons have participated in Valley Center High School Hornet sports. A sign on the Bluml roadside mailbox says: “This is Hornet country.”

Sheriff’s officials have described her death as a homicide “with unknown suspects” and his injuries as an aggravated battery.

Officials have been relatively tight-lipped about their investigation so far.

By Tuesday afternoon, a large contingent of law enforcement vehicles and support vehicles had left the crime scene, and sheriff’s deputies no longer blocked the driveway leading to the house.

Meanwhile, Valley Center schools superintendent Cory Gibson confirmed Tuesday that he sent a message to students via Twitter saying, “VCHS students, we’ve heard that media may be contacting you via twitter. Out of respect of the Bluml family, I’d suggest that you not comment.” Gibson said he then sent this follow-up tweet: “The media serves a great purpose in our society, however, you reserve the right to decline to comment at any time.”

Gibson said he was responding to a call from a parent to a high school administrator expressing concern that a television reporter was trying to reach students via Twitter.

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

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