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Federal hate-crime charges, state charges likely in Overland Park shootings

  • The Kansas City Star
  • Published Monday, April 14, 2014, at 10:12 a.m.
  • Updated Thursday, May 29, 2014, at 5:23 p.m.

Terri and Jim LaManno planned to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary today.

But on Sunday, as Terri LaManno made her regular weekly visit to see her mother at an Overland Park assisted living center, she was caught in what authorities say was a hate-inspired killing spree that left her and two other people dead.

Though killed outside of Jewish facilities in Overland Park, all three victims were members of Christian denominations, according to their families.

Shortly after the shootings, police arrested a man who has espoused anti-Semitic views for years. State and federal officials are conducting a dual investigation into what they said Monday were, unequivocally, hate crimes.

Frazier Glenn Miller Jr., 73, of Aurora, Mo., also known as Frazier Glenn Cross, could be charged as soon as today in Johnson County District Court, where he probably will face murder counts. District Attorney Steve Howe said information about charges could be released this morning.

Miller will face hate-crime charges in federal court, based on allegations that he was motivated by bias, said Barry Grissom, the U.S. attorney for Kansas.

“We are in a very good place from an evidence standpoint and will present the case to a grand jury in the not-too-distant future,” Grissom said in a news conference in Overland Park.

Asked whether others could have been involved in the shootings, FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael Kaste said the investigation is focused on Miller.

“We will look everywhere the evidence takes us,” said Kaste, who oversees the bureau’s Kansas City office.

Miller has made statements to investigators, but authorities would not reveal those comments Monday. The southwest Missouri man long has been known for deeply anti-Semitic and racist statements. He was a Ku Klux Klan grand dragon at one time and founded the White Patriot Party in the 1980s.

Reat Griffin Underwood, 14, and his grandfather, William Lewis Corporon, 69, were killed about 1 p.m. outside the Jewish Community Center, where Reat planned to audition as part of a singing contest. Reat was a freshman at Blue Valley High School. His grandfather was a physician. Both were Methodists.

Terri LaManno, 53, of Kansas City, was killed at the Village Shalom assisted living facility in Overland Park. She was a Catholic.

Her daughter Alissa, who attends Missouri State University in Springfield, released a written statement Monday on behalf of family members and asked for privacy while they grieve.

“My mom was a beautiful soul. She always thought of everyone before herself. The world needs more people like her. She was the best mother, wife, sister and friend that anyone could ask for.”

LaManno also has an older daughter, Jennifer, and a son, Gian, who attends Kansas State University.

Brian Fowler, a lawyer and longtime family friend, said Terri LaManno’s two sisters were visiting their mother at the time of the incident and didn’t realize that their sister had been shot outside the facility.

Fowler described Terri LaManno as a “beautiful lady” who was devoted to her husband and children.

LaManno worked as an occupational therapist at the Children’s Center for the Visually Impaired in Kansas City. She worked with children and their families in their homes and provided constant “support and compassion,” said co-worker and friend Amanda Daniels.

“Terri acted out of kindness and gratitude in everything she did,” Daniels said.

Many of the children’s families were dealing with emotionally trying situations, and LaManno always strove to find ways to help them, Daniels said.

“Terri never gave up on anybody,” she said. “She did an amazing job in helping families in their journeys.”

The LaMannos are longtime parishioners at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Kansas City, where a rosary was said for Terri LaManno after Monday morning Mass. Pastor Steve Cook asked parishioners to remember LaManno and her family in their prayers.

Also on Monday, two public defenders in Kansas were appointed to represent Miller in any federal hate-crimes prosecution.

Kansas Federal Public Defender Melody Brannon Evans and her first assistant, Kirk Redmond, will represent Miller should he be charged in a criminal complaint or, later, by grand jury indictment.

And should federal prosecutors decide to seek the death penalty, Evans and Redmond would continue to represent Miller. Both have worked capital cases and are qualified to do so under federal rules.

Overland Park police received 28 calls after the shootings Sunday. Those calls helped police arrest the suspect quickly, Police Chief John Douglass said Monday.

Douglass asked anyone with information that could help investigators to call police at 913-895-6910 or the FBI at 816-512-8200.

The Star’s Mark Morris contributed to this report. To reach Tony Rizzo, call 816-234-4435 or send email to trizzo@kcstar.com.

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