Crime & Courts

Two men arrested in couple's killings

Monday afternoon, four days after a relative found the young couple's bodies in the white bungalow, family members went inside the home.

Detectives rolled up crime-scene tape that surrounded the house and escorted the somber-faced relatives through the front door on North Chautauqua.

What the relatives have now is their memories.

Memories of Jessie Foust, a 25-year-old mother who relatives say was scheduled to graduate this month from Wichita State University, with plans to be a social worker.

And memories of Pharon Adrian Jackson, a 26-year-old father who loved rap music, the Oakland Raiders and cars.

Earlier Monday, police announced that they had arrested two young men in the couple's deaths.

Jackson's 20-year-old sister found the bodies Thanksgiving afternoon when the couple didn't show up for a holiday dinner.

Police who responded said the couple's 4-year-old and 18-month-old sons were uninjured and were found wandering around the house where the bodies had been lying for hours.

Police said both men arrested Saturday — an 18-year-old from Sumner County and a 17-year-old from Wichita — remained in custody.

According to jail records, the 18-year-old was being held under a $1 million bond on suspicion of two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated robbery.

Today, investigators plan to present the case to prosecutors, who will decide whether charges will be filed.

Children's ordeal

Police said Jackson and Foust apparently had been dead for several hours before they were found in the home, a couple of blocks northwest of Hillside and Central.

Jackson suffered more than one wound, a police report said. He and Foust were pronounced dead at the scene.

The couple's two young sons are now staying with relatives.

"I don't think any of us can fathom" what the children went through, Deputy Police Chief Tom Stolz said at a briefing on the case at City Hall.

"I don't think we can quantify ... the tragedy here," Stolz said.

Investigators think the children could have been in a bedroom when the shooting occurred, but they aren't certain, he said.

Police have interviewed the 4-year-old. "He did give us a statement," Stolz said.

Investigators think Jackson knew both suspects and that Jackson and one of the suspects had been involved in a previous transaction involving a gun, Stolz said.

Asked whether there was a motive, Stolz said, "Just plain old stealing, theft," but that detectives continue to look for other motives.

Some items stolen from the house have been recovered, he said.

During the investigation, police have confiscated more than one gun. The two victims appear to have been shot with the same weapon, Stolz said.

There was no sign of forced entry, but police found indications of a struggle inside the home, he said.

Investigators, who worked 36 hours straight on the case, have received "very good cooperation" from people who knew the victims, Stolz said.

The two deaths mark the city's 24th and 25th homicides of the year.

'Heartbroken'

Jackson's mother, Iris Jackson, said her son was intelligent and "got along with everybody."

He spent most of his life in Wichita, where he graduated from South High School. Later, he attended Labette Community College. He performed as a rapper, sometimes doing benefit concerts, his mother said. He was a former youth counselor, she said.

Foust's uncle, Vincent Foust, said his niece and Jackson had been together about three years. The 4-year-old boy is Jackson's son, and the 18-month-old boy is the couple's child, Vincent Foust said.

Jessie Foust had been a cheerleader at Junction City High School and had played on the school softball team. Later, she was a cheerleader at Cowley College, her uncle said.

At WSU, she was majoring in social work and was eligible to graduate in December, said WSU spokesman Joe Kleinsasser.

"She was going into social work to help people," Vincent Foust said. "That's the kind of person she was. She would never hurt a flea.

"She does have a family that is heartbroken."

The family wants to ask WSU to grant her degree because she was so close to graduating, her uncle said.

"It would mean a lot," he said.

As for the couple's two young sons, he said, "They have kind of a tough road ahead of them, but they have a lot of family to help."

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