Editor's note: Click here to access an interactive map showing locations of Wichita's homicides from 1989 through 2015.
Of the 26 homicides cases Wichita police investigated in 2014, two remain unsolved.
Police say the victims, both women, were outside when they were struck by gunfire likely meant for someone else.
Kelsey Shaw, 23, was waiting March 9 to get into an after-hours club, Phat Azz Bikes at 1002 N. Cleveland, when someone stood in the street and fired a gun at about 3:12 a.m. A bullet struck her head.
Never miss a local story.
Nichole Saldana, 23, was walking with her husband in the 3500 block of East Roseberry, in the Planeview neighborhood, on May 13 when someone fired multiple rounds from a rifle toward the couple. Like Shaw, Saldana also was shot in the head.
Last year, Wichita police – faced with killings sparked by things such as gang rivalries, child abuse, domestic violence and self-defense – cleared 24 of the city’s 26 homicides, a rate of 92.3 percent. The number exceeds the national homicide clearance rate of 64.1 percent cited by the FBI in its most recent Uniform Crime Reports.
“We’ve been very fortunate to exceed the national average,” Deputy Chief Hassan Ramzah said earlier this month.
All of that makes the two unsolved homicides even more frustrating.
For months investigators have worked to solve the shootings and bring a suspect or suspects to justice, Ramzah said. But they face the same basic problem in solving in both cases: witnesses unwilling to come forward.
“The challenge for us particularly in these two open cases goes back to having people come forward and provide information as to what occurred,” Ramzah said. “We know there’s someone out there that knows – that saw something or heard something, you know witnessed something.
“For us, it’s always important for us to ask for them to come forward and provide that information, provide a tip to our detectives, use Crime Stoppers, (or) come in and visit with us.”
In Shaw’s killing, police say people were gathered inside and outside of the motorcycle club when the shooting occurred. Two groups reportedly had argued inside the building, and the altercation continued outside after they were removed.
Although it’s unclear whether the disturbance prompted the gunfire, police say the shooter stood in Ninth Street, just south of the clubhouse, and fired multiple rounds.
When the gunfire broke out, people fled, which has made it difficult for police to find and talk to possible witnesses. Police don’t think Shaw was involved in the fight.
In Saldana’s shooting, police expect there are also multiple witnesses who could come forward. Police say the shooter fired eight to 10 rounds – possibility from multiple weapons – and as Saldana and her husband fled the attack, she was hit. The couple lived a few blocks away.
Police have said her husband is a documented gang member.
Ramzah said that investigators now think some sort of altercation preceded the shooting.
“If we had information from the witnesses to be able to ascertain that story, we’d be in a position to be able to charge someone” in Saldana’s death, he said.
Of Shaw’s death, Ramzah said: “We have witnesses on scene that possibly saw the shooting and, to this date, we still do not have anyone who can step forward and provide that missing link or that information that can lead us to the arrest of the suspect responsible.”
Ramzah said it has been months since the department received any useful tips in either of 2014’s open cases.
“Any tip for us is viewed as a positive, and it’s something we certainly follow up on,” he said.
Of the 116 homicides worked by the Wichita Police Department from 2010 through the end of 2014, a majority are closed. Most were solved immediately or within days or weeks.
Some of the cases carried over into subsequent years before they were closed. Cases can remain open for months, or even years, before a break leads to an arrest, Ramzah said.
Earlier this month, police announced the arrest of two men in the July 14, 2013, killing of 27-year-old James Gary Jr., who died in a gang shootout at an after-hours warehouse party in the 800 block of East 11th Street. Before then, Gary’s homicide was one of four considered open from 2013.
Wichita police try to match or exceed the national homicide clearance rate cited in the FBI in its annual Uniform Crime Reports, which can be found at www.fbi.gov. In 2013, the figure was 64.1 percent.
A check of the last five years of statistics show Wichita police have exceeded the benchmark every year from 2010 to 2014.
He attributed the agency’s success to partnerships between police and the community.
“The important thing is to bring closure to all the cases,” he said. “We’ve been very fortunate to have that working relationship with the community and be able to bring solvability and closure to these victims’ families.”
“They are very difficult cases and tragedies,” he said, both for victims and the city.
In 2014, the deaths of 26 people were investigated as homicides by the Wichita Police Department. Here is a list of the victims, in chronological order. The list also includes suspect information and updates on their criminal cases from Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett and district court records.
Not all of 2014’s homicides resulted in criminal charges. Three of the 26 victims were killed by police.
1.) Layfayette Johnson, 30, was shot and killed by a bouncer at the Spotlite Club 2, 1710 E. Morris, after he opened fire outside Feb. 2. Police at the time said Johnson was angry after he was thrown out of the nightclub for violating its wardrobe policy. The bouncer used justified force and was not charged, Bennett said.
2.) Marlon Beavers, 45, was shot by the homeowner in the 2300 block of North Poplar during an alleged home invasion and attack Feb. 3. The homeowner, Josiah Williams, pleaded no contest in September to criminal possession of a firearm and received 18 months probation in connection with the shooting. He could serve 19 months in prison if he violates the terms of his probation, Bennett said.
3.) Daniel Flores, 25, was found beaten to death Feb. 10 in the basement of Steckline Communications where he worked. The suspect, Antwon D. Banks Sr., 32, is scheduled for trial Feb. 17. He is charged with first-degree premeditated murder.
4.) Efren Antonio Villarreal-Alvarado, 43, was robbed and shot in the chest as he sat in his truck shortly after arriving at his job at Santana Concrete, 3665 W. McCormick, on Feb. 21. Authorities have said his killing was motivated by robbery and that he was targeted. Deon Nolan Hale, 41, and Donnie J. Lalonde, 34, are charged with first-degree murder and aggravated robbery. Both await trial..
5.) Kelsey Shaw, 23, was struck in the head by a bullet when someone opened fire outside of Phat Azz Bikes clubhouse at 1002 N. Cleveland on March 9. Police say she was not the target. Her killing remains unsolved.
6.) David Zehring, 30, was fatally shot April 10 by a Wichita police officer after he got out of his vehicle at Maple and Mount Carmel, ignored law enforcement commands and approached a Sedgwick County sheriff’s deputy with a knife. Bennett determined that the officer was justified in using deadly force.
7.) Nichole Saldana, 24, was walking with her husband in the Planeview neighborhood on May 13 when she was shot at about 11:45 p.m. Two people were arrested just over a week later but were later released without being charged. Police think the shooting is gang-related. It remains unsolved.
8-9.) Cayli Phillips, 24, and Eddie Centeno-Martinez, 50, were shot and killed May 27 after a lingering feud escalated and spilled into the street in the 2500 block of West Wildwood. Phillips was shot accidentally. The district attorney’s office charged the shooter, 27-year-old Deshazar D. Barber, with two counts of criminal possession of a firearm but declined to file homicide charges. Bennett said an investigation showed Barber “used justifiable force in the defense of himself” and Phillips against Centeno-Martinez and another man involved in the argument.
10.) Emma Krueger, 3, died June 4, two days after she was taken to Wesley Medical Center. Police have said the girl suffered beatings for perhaps a month before her mother, Monica Krueger, called 911. Krueger, 25, and her boyfriend, 23-year-old Evan Schuessler, are each charged with first-degree felony murder in the girl’s death. Both await trial.
11.) Juan “Gordo” Orona, 20, was killed when gunfire broke out at a party attended by more than 100 people – including members of rival gangs – in the 900 block of South Cypress on June 21. Dametrius Williams, 20, and Christopher Cooper, 19, are charged with first-degree felony murder in Orona’s death. Both await trial.
12-14.) Tuyet Huynh, 45; her daughter Trinh Pham, 20; and her future son-in-law 21-year-old Sean Pham were shot and killed June 24 in the home they shared with Huynh’s boyfriend, Vinh V. Nguyen, at 2207 S. Beech. Nguyen, 41, is charged with capital murder. His preliminary hearing is set for April 9.
15.) Icarus Randolph, a 26-year-old military veteran, was shot and killed by Wichita police July 4 in the front yard of 7815 E. Clay. Officers were at the address after receiving a call about a suicidal person; police say Randolph charged an officer with a knife as police approached the door. His family says police escalated the situation. The question of whether the officer was justified in killing Randolph remains under investigation, Bennett said.
16.) Shawn Palmer, 25, was trying to stop the theft of his father’s pickup at a QuikTrip at Meridian and MacArthur on July 5 when he was run over by the alleged thief. Edward Ladish, 34, is scheduled for jury trial next week on charges of first-degree felony murder, aggravated robbery, aggravated battery and felony theft.
17.) Ten-month-old Kadillak Poe-Jones died from hyperthermia after she was left alone in a parked car outside of 1525 S. Topeka for up to 2 1/2 hours on July 24. Her foster father, 29-year-old Seth Jackson, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter on Nov. 26 and is set for sentencing Jan. 30. Authorities have said Jackson smoked marijuana the day he left the girl in the car.
18.) Marcus Collins, 29, was gravely wounded Aug. 7 during a gunfight that broke out over a gambling dispute at Calvary Towers, in the 2600 block of North Grove. He died two weeks later. Bennett determined the killing was justified and the shooter was not charged.
19.) Nathaniel Jackson, 36, was shot multiple times Oct. 9 while he was visiting an unoccupied house in the 1500 block of North Minnesota. Michael Dontae Davis, a 55-year-old parolee, was arrested Oct. 10 and charged with first-degree felony murder. His preliminary hearing is set for Jan. 29.
20-21.) Godofredo Moreno, 72, and Martha Moreno, 71, were found fatally shot on a bedroom floor of their home in the 600 block of South Ida on Oct. 16. A police affidavit says 20-year-old Steven Edwards and 17-year-old Carlos Delacadena-Edwards went to the house to collect cash or a vehicle from a man that owed Edwards money. Edwards, who is accused of pulling the trigger, faces capital murder and other charges. He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing March 4. Delacadena-Edwards is charged as a juvenile with two counts of first-degree murder and a count of aggravated robbery. Prosecutors plan to argue Feb. 4 that he should be tried as an adult.
22.) Jeffrey Holden Jr., 18, was killed in a shootout with Wichita police officers on Oct. 26. Police say Holden opened fire with two guns after an officer confronted him next to Mount Carmel Village apartments in the 3000 block of West Douglas. Bennett said the police’s use of deadly force remains under investigation.
23.) Letitia Davis, 36, died from severe burns eight days after she was raped, beaten and set on fire while walking through Fairmount Park, 1647 N. Yale, on Nov. 14. Cornell A. McNeal, 26, is charged with capital murder, rape and arson in connection with her death. He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing March 5.
24.) Super Street Khatiya, 24, was shot multiple times in the stomach during an altercation in the parking lot of a Knights of Columbus hall at 3200 block on West 13th Street on Dec. 13. Police arrested 20-year-old Manuel Otano-Hernandez and a 20-year-old woman in connection with Khatiya’s death, and are still looking for 20-year-old Ismael Pena. No one has been charged in the case.
25.) Therreshia Pittman, 19, was fatally shot when her boyfriend’s gun went off at 10th and Harding on Dec. 21. Police have said Deonsha Paige, upset over the death of a relative, was pacing and holding a gun that discharged when Pittman tried to pull him out of the street. The case remains under investigation, Bennett said.
26.) Steven D. Manuel, 32, died after he was stabbed multiple times during an altercation at his home in the 400 block of South Knight on Dec. 24. A 16-year-old boy later was arrested and charged as a juvenile with intentional second-degree murder in his death; he is due in court for a pretrial conference on March 25. The teen, told the neighbor that he had defended himself against Manuel.
Anyone with information about any unsolved homicide in Wichita can call the Wichita Police Department’s homicide unit at 316-268-4181 or 911. Tips also can be submitted anonymously through Crime Stoppers by calling 316-267-2111, at www.wsccs.com or by texting “TIP217” then a message to 274637 (CRIMES).
If a Crime Stoppers tip leads to an arrest, the tipster may be eligible for a reward of up to $2,500.