Crime & Courts

Couple's killing jolts neighbors, landlord

Little is publicly known about two shooting deaths discovered Thanksgiving Day in a house on North Chautauqua.

Although details have yet to emerge, to neighbors and the landlord, it was clearly a wrenching tragedy:

A couple in their mid-20s — recently seen bringing a Christmas tree and wrapped packages into their home — were found shot to death in their living room Thursday. Two small children were uninjured but were found wandering around the home where the bodies lay. The discovery was made by a relative who went to check after the couple didn't show up for Thanksgiving dinner.

"Those poor, poor children. We saw the little girl sitting in the police car," the family's landlord, Carol Cummings, said Friday.

"I will never forget it.

"Their lives are changed forever.

"The whole extended family — just grieving in the street. It's just horrible."

Cummings said she didn't know the couple well but said they paid their rent on time. "They never caused any trouble," she said.

A neighbor, gazing at the house on Friday, said, "It's just heart-breaking."

Crime-scene tape still ringed the white, corner bungalow at Chautauqua and Elm, a few blocks northwest of Central and Hillside. An officer sat in a patrol car outside, a day after nearly two dozen police cars had lined the curbs.

It was apparent that a family lived there. On their front door were Christmas decorations. On the front porch, a wind chime. In the front lawn, a "Welcome" sign and scattered toys.

The neighbor said she didn't know the couple by name, but after she found their small dog loose a couple of months ago and returned it, they seemed like a "very sweet couple."

The woman, who declined to give her name, said the crime also made her worry about her safety.

On Friday, detectives from the homicide section continued to investigate, Wichita police spokesman Gordon Bassham said in a brief statement.

On Thursday, early in the investigation, Capt. Jeff Easter said police were treating the crime as "some type of robbery."

Police said they had yet to arrest a suspect as of Friday.

Police have not released the couple's names.

Relatives could not be reached for comment.

Another neighbor said the couple had moved in to the house about six months ago. The neighbor, who declined to give his name, said he "watched them as they brought the Christmas tree in. They got that just a few days ago."

The last time he saw the couple was Wednesday night, the night before their bodies were found.

He saw the woman bring in wrapped Christmas presents. He noticed a television on inside and silhouettes of people walking around.

"They were all right that night," he said.

The neighbor said he has lived in the neighborhood for more than five years.

"There's been no violence at all like this," he said.

According to Bassham, officers went to the house Thursday afternoon after a 20-year-old relative discovered that her 26-year-old brother and a 25-year-old woman had been shot in the house.

Emergency dispatchers gave this timeline: The first emergency call came at 2:36 p.m., with a female reporting that blood had been found. At 2:37 p.m., it was dispatched as a call for EMS to respond. At 2:41 p.m., officers arrived on scene.

Paramedics pronounced the two dead at 2:44 p.m., Bassham said.

Any more information about the case won't be released until Monday morning, he said.