Crime & Courts

Multiple people may be involved in triple homicide, officials say

Jereme Lee Nelson
Jereme Lee Nelson Courtesy photo

Investigators think more than one person may have been involved in the fatal shooting of three people outside a rural Harvey County home, Sheriff T. Walton said Wednesday.

“I believe that there will be more than one involved; I don’t know how many more,” Walton said. “Based on what we have seen, it seems like there would have to be more than one involved.”

He wouldn’t elaborate.

The sheriff’s comments came a couple of hours after authorities said a man is being sought for questioning in the triple homicide.

A “be on the lookout” order has been issued for Jereme Lee Nelson, according to the Johnson County sheriff’s Facebook page.

“We have been actively pursuing him since last night,” Walton said.

The Johnson County sheriff’s Facebook page said: “Nelson is considered armed and dangerous and could be driving either a cream colored Lincoln MKZ with a (Kansas) plate 670HHJ or a cream colored 2005 Cadillac Escalade (Texas) plate SKCX229. If you see him contact Harvey County Sheriff’s Office at 316-284-6960 or the (Kansas Bureau of Investigation) at 1-800-KSCRIME.”

Referring to the “armed and dangerous” warning, Walton said, “I would take that seriously.”

Harvey County Attorney David Yoder, who would prosecute any charges in the killings, on Wednesday confirmed that Nelson, 34, is a “person of interest” in the triple homicide. Yoder also said the motive appears to be drug-related.

The victims were Travis Street, 33; Angela Graevs, 37; and Richard Prouty, 52. Street and Graevs were a couple and lived at the house where they were shot Sunday in rural Harvey County, Walton has said. Prouty lived in Newton.

Previous legal issues

Nelson is listed in state records as being an absconder from Sedgwick County corrections supervision after he failed to report in on Sept. 19.

He has multiple convictions in Sedgwick County and one in Butler County, including distribution or possession of heroin or methamphetamine and criminal possession of a firearm by a felon.

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Nelson is listed with the Butler County Sheriff’s Office as being a noncompliant drug offender, with a Rose Hill address. He is described as being white, 5-foot-9 and 200 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes and a tattoo of a skull on his chest.

Nelson also is wanted in Sedgwick County on an active warrant in an unrelated 2014 probation-violation case, said Sedgwick County sheriff’s Lt. Lin Dehning. When Nelson was booked into jail earlier this year, he listed an Augusta address, Dehning said.

There are multiple people that we’re still looking for for questioning.

David Yoder, Harvey County attorney

If anyone sees Nelson, he shouldn’t be approached or confronted, and people should instead call 911 or law enforcement, Yoder said.

“Based on the evidence that we have obtained and other persons interviewed so far … it appears that the motive is drug-related,” Yoder said of the killings.

More than one suspect?

There could be more than one suspect in the killings, he said.

“There are multiple people that we’re still looking for for questioning.”

And that questioning could lead to additional evidence on the property where the three were shot, Yoder said.

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Although a team from the Kansas Bureau of Investigation has left the crime scene, the property on Spring Lake Road was held most of Wednesday by the Harvey County Sheriff’s Office to preserve evidence, Yoder said. Walton, the sheriff, said he expected the property could be turned back over to the landlord later Wednesday evening.

The landlord has told The Eagle that he was in the process of evicting Street and Graevs, partly because of property damage. Kalani Walsh said he was suspicious of what was occurring at his property because he noticed that someone had put a police scanner at the property and had video cameras placed around the house.

Street and Graevs were facing identical drug and child-endangerment charges in Harvey County at the time of their killings, court records show. When deputies found the bodies of the couple and Prouty outside the house, they heard an 18-month-old boy screaming and crying inside the house. Although the child was unharmed, he had apparently remained in the house for several hours after his parents had been shot. The boy has been placed with relatives.

‘Not going to rush’

The prosecutor and the sheriff spoke Wednesday about the importance of solving the case.

“There are three people murdered in Harvey County, and obviously we do want to identify” the killer or killers, Yoder said.

“We are not going to rush the case. We’re going to make absolutely sure that evidence clearly supports whoever may be charged in this case.”

As of Wednesday, around 20 investigators with the KBI and sheriff’s office were working on the case, Walton said.

The sheriff said that regardless of the lifestyles of the victims, people should keep in mind that Street and Graevs leave behind three children, ages 18 months, 11 and 18. “People should keep that in their heart.”

Walton, 65, noted that he is retiring in the next couple of months after eight years as sheriff and 20 years as a police officer.

“I don’t want to leave here with this hanging on me.

“I’m confident that it will be solved.”

Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton gives a news conference about the rural Harvey County, Kansas, triple homicide that occurred on Sunday. (Oct. 31, 2016) (Video by Fernando Salazar/The Wichita Eagle)

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