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Children in Amber Alert found safe in Wichita motel; man in custody

Wichita police Chief Gordon Ramsay talks about three children and a man who were found in south Wichita after an Amber Alert was issued Friday night. (June 2, 2017)
Wichita police Chief Gordon Ramsay talks about three children and a man who were found in south Wichita after an Amber Alert was issued Friday night. (June 2, 2017) Wichita Eagle

Three children who were the subject of an Amber Alert were found safe Friday night in a south Wichita motel and the man they were believed to be with was in custody and being interviewed, according to Wichita police.

Chief Gordon Ramsay said the children – ages 2, 5 and 12 – “are safe and sound.” They were found alone in a room of the Heritage Inn motel, near 47th Street South and Broadway.

VIDEO: Watch Chief Gordon Ramsay's comments on the case.

The man sought as the suspect in the Amber Alert — 29-year-old Dane Wright — was found outside a nearby Dillons store. Ramsay said a “good Samaritan” notified authorities about a suspicious character in the area, which led to the man’s capture and the children’s recovery. Wright was taken into custody without incident, Ramsay said.

The children will be placed in the state’s custody for the time being. “They appear unharmed,” Ramsay said. He added that the children will be interviewed about the day’s events.

The Amber Alert was issued earlier in the day following a fatal house fire in which a woman’s body was found. Wichita police consider the woman’s death suspicious, according to the Amber Alert, but they don’t know yet how she died. The coroner will determine the woman’s cause of death and confirm her identity during an autopsy, Ramsay said.

Wright’s relationship to the children and to the woman whose body was found at the house fire at 321 N. Ash was unclear Friday night.

Police said the children are associated with her but did not offer specifics.

“There’s a lot of information that we are still trying to determine. We have a lot of interviews yet to do,” Ramsay said. “We do not know for certain who the person is in the home, as well. A team of detectives are working on this case, and they will be working on it throughout the night and the weekend to help us answer some of these questions.”

Deputy Fire Chief Brad Crisp said earlier Friday it was unclear whether the fire caused the fatality. Crisp said authorities are looking into the cause of death and cause of the fire.

Crisp said a 911 call was made at around 12:30 p.m. to report the fire. When crews arrived, Crisp said, smoke was coming from the house, which is near I-135 and Second Street.

“We did find the scene of the fire relatively quickly, but during the search and rescue effort we did locate a body,” Crisp said.

At about 6 p.m., the Amber Alert was issued for the children and Wright. The three children were identified as William Thompson III, 12, Ethan Thompson, 5, and Damien Wright, 2.

Ramsay said other details surrounding the body found in the home are unclear.

“We greatly appreciate people helping us. There was tremendous interest in this case to ensure these kids were safe,” he said.

Amy Renee Leiker: 316-268-6644, @amyreneeleiker

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