Wichita police have arrested a 19-year-old man in connection with one of four cold homicide cases from 2011.
The man, whom police later confirmed was Travis M. Knighten, was booked into Sedgwick County Jail on suspicion of first-degree murder and aggravated battery in connection with the May 7 shooting death of 22-year-old Mario Brown, Wichita police Lt. Ken Landwehr said Thursday.
Brown was shot multiple times from a Toyota SUV while he stood in a parking lot at an after-hours party in 3100 block of East 13th Street at around 2:30 a.m. Police said Brown was a known gang member.
Knighten’s arrest Wednesday comes after months of work, police said. Three of the city’s 26 homicides committed in 2011 remain unsolved.
“It’s good news that we solved one,” Wichita police Capt. Brent Allred said Thursday.
“We want to get these three solved at some point in time.”
Over the last decade, Wichita police have solved 84 percent of homicides in the year they were committed, Landwehr said. A few cold cases from previous years are usually closed, too, Landwehr said, bumping up the percentage of solved homicides.
“Right now we are running at 94 to 96 percent,” Landwehr said.
In a typical year, the city averages between 20 and 30 homicides, he said. Last year, 18 people were killed in Wichita.
In the Brown case, police said they tracked down the owner of the SUV, who apparently loaned the vehicle to someone else the morning of Brown’s death, Landwehr said. Last week, police found the person who borrowed the SUV.
A string of interviews eventually led police to arrest Knighten.
“We basically had the identity of the person that owned the vehicle,” Landwehr said, when asked what led to the arrest. “We had put out information of the person that that vehicle had been loaned to. ... Then we basically ran the rest of the individuals down and interviewed them right before we identified the suspects.”
Police arrested Knighten as he left a Wichita smoke shop, located in the 6600 block of East Harry. Landwehr said officers in the area were looking for him because he was known to frequent that part of town. Knighten attempted to flee from officers and was stunned with a Taser. He suffered minor injuries, Landwehr said.
Police are still looking for another 19-year-old man who was in the SUV when Brown was shot, Landwehr said.
Knighten is being held on $1 million bond in connection with the murder charge, according to the Sedgwick County jail log. He is also being held for other violations, including multiple drug possession charges. Landwehr said he has no prior criminal record except for minor juvenile offenses.
Police are still looking for leads in these unsolved homicides:
Landwehr said at least two men chased Phan into a street before shooting and killing him. They fled in a dark-colored, four-door Honda. Police think the shooting is gang-related.
McGuigan’s was last seen alive working in his yard around 8 p.m. on Sept. 6; he hadn’t changed his clothing or showered at the time of the shooting, Landwehr said.
“It appears that he was sitting down watching TV or working on a computer in his living room when he was approached,” he said.
Police say there was no sign of robbery or forced entry.
Police have no leads and no reports of suspicious individuals around McGuigan’s home at the time of his death, Landwehr said. The murder weapon has not been found.
Police have no suspects in Hauschulz’s death. Landwehr said police are waiting to complete lab testing on objects found around Hauschulz’s body.
Anyone with information on Wichita’s three unsolved homicides can call the homicide department at 316-268-4181. Tips also may be submitted to Crime Stoppers at 316-267-2111, at www.wsccs.com, or by texting "TIP217” and a message to 274637 (CRIMES) from a mobile device.
Allred, the police captain, said Crime Stoppers tips have been instrumental in solving cases, including one that led to the arrest of Tyrone Walker, a 46-year-old man charged in the June 4 beating death of Janis Sanders, 44.
“Without that information, a lot of these cases would go unsolved,” Allred said.
If a tip leads to an arrest, callers may be eligible for a cash reward of up to $1,000.
“Each of the victims have family and friends who care about them a great deal,” said Galen Davis, board president for Crime Stoppers of Wichita/Sedgwick County. “Our community cares when these horrible crimes happen in our neighborhoods.”