The woman who hit and killed a man hitchhiking to Augusta last weekend told authorities his body landed in the bed of her truck after the collision and that she panicked and drove around instead of calling 911, the Butler County Sheriff said Friday.
A neighbor of Virginia M. Moore’s left the tip that led to her arrest Thursday in the death of 38-year-old Jared K. Wright, whose body was found 6 miles away from where he was hit, Sheriff Kelly Herzet said.
Herzet said the neighbor noticed that a truck generally seen at Moore’s home had been parked inside of her garage since Saturday and that Thursday morning a glass company showed up to replace its windshield.
“He found that odd” and, knowing the Sheriff’s Office was still seeking tips in Wright’s killing, called authorities, Herzet said.
Detectives went to Moore’s address, in the 1200 block of Dearborn, found her there and took her to Augusta’s Department of Public Safety building for an interview. She admitted to driving the truck and running over Wright, Herzet said.
“She told us she was just fiddling with her seat belt and that she ran off the shoulder and hit” Wright as he was hitchhiking in an area of Yorktown and U.S. 54 near Andover early Saturday morning, he said.
Moore was driving back to Augusta after having dropped a friend off in Wichita and stopping at the Dillons grocery store in Andover when the collision happened, he said.
When Moore pulled over, she saw Wright’s body in the truck bed and “freaked out and started driving,” Herzet said. Eventually she stopped on Tawakoni Road between Southwest 130th and Southwest 140th streets, dragged Wright’s body out of the truck and left it in a ditch.
Two people delivering Wichita Eagle newspapers discovered Wright dead at around 4 a.m. Saturday. He was missing his socks, shoes and pants. Authorities later found them and a cellphone near where he was last seen hitchhiking.
Herzet said Friday that Moore’s version of events is believable. He would not disclose the reason she gave for failing to report the collision or Wright’s death. He also said factors other than the seat belt contributed to the crash but declined to elaborate.
“I’m just glad that we got help from the public. This was going to be a tough case to solve,” Herzet said, adding that before the neighbor’s tip, authorities had received no meaningful leads in the case.
Moore was arrested and booked into the Butler County Jail on suspicion of committing second-degree murder, leaving the scene of an accident and failing to report an accident, Herzet said.