A day that began with the stabbing of a mother and her two young daughters ended with one of the sisters being remembered as a “very sweet little girl” and her great-uncle being held on suspicion of first-degree murder, attempted murder and kidnapping.
Police were dealing with crime scenes that extended from an isolated field north of Wichita to a shopping center parking lot on the city’s south side, where police discovered the trail of violence Friday morning.
Investigators, who said they were still trying to figure out why and how the attack happened, expected to keep working at one of the crime scenes on Saturday.
Wichita police think that the 47-year-old man held in the stabbings is the great-uncle of the 6-year-old girl who died and her 4-year-old sister. The younger girl was critically injured with stab wounds.
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The man is the uncle of their 24-year-old mother, also stabbed and critically injured.
Wichita police Lt. Todd Ojile wouldn’t give the victims’ names.
The uncle/great-uncle arrested in the fast-moving investigation – Hassan L. Wright – is a registered sex offender on parole, with a history of violence dating to the 1980s, records show.
Wright was being held in the Sedgwick County Jail on a $1 million bond.
Meanwhile, the sense of loss and tragedy was setting in.
Ronald Ray said the 6-year-old girl who died is the daughter of his son’s common-law wife.
“She was a very sweet little girl,” Ray said.
In a briefing for reporters late Friday afternoon, Ojile said the 24-year-old woman and her 4-year-old child were critically injured and that they were stable after undergoing surgery.
Police think the violence started on 77th Street North west of Ridge, Ojile said.
A knife that is thought to be the weapon has been found at the crime scene, he said.
Ojile gave this account:
Shortly before 7 a.m., police responded to what appeared to be a car accident in a parking lot in south Wichita. Police found a 24-year-old woman and 6-year-old girl. Both had been stabbed.
They were taken to Wesley Medical Center, where the girl was pronounced dead at 7:05.
At the scene and at the hospital, the woman was able to identify a suspect — Wright, Ojile said.
Authorities from multiple agencies began an immediate search for Wright.
Shortly after 8 a.m., officers were dispatched to the 8000 block of 77th Street North. Employees of a sand company there found a 4-year-old girl wandering in a field. She was bleeding and was taken to Wesley in critical condition.
At about 9:22 a.m., 911 dispatch received an anonymous call saying that Wright was at a Haysville residence. The Kansas offender registry says that Wright, who is on parole, is a sex offender with a Haysville address.
Authorities located Wright in a car at 55th South and Broadway, and he was taken to a hospital, treated and released, and then booked into jail. Wright had a small cut and bruising, Ojile said.
At one point, another man was mistakenly identified as a person of interest in the fast-moving investigation, Ojile said. Antonio Ray is the woman’s boyfriend, the father of the 4-year-old and “step-father” to the 6-year-old, Ojile said. But he was not involved in the violence, he said.
Investigators are still processing the crime scene on 77th Street North, where the attack apparently began, and the work there will extend into Saturday, Ojile said.
Police are still conducting interviews.
Ojile wouldn’t comment on a possible motive, adding, “We have not been able to figure out why or how this occurred.”
The attack might have begun at around 5 a.m., possibly later, Ojile said. Police think the Jeep in which the two victims were found in south Wichita was driven back into the city by Wright “at one time,” Ojile said.
Wright allegedly exited the Jeep, and investigators think the 24-year-old woman got into the driver’s seat and drove a short distance before crashing in the Parklane shopping center parking lot near Lincoln and Oliver, Ojile said.
Wright has convictions for second-degree murder and aggravated battery for crimes in Wyandotte County in 1988. He has convictions for aggravated battery and burglary for crimes in Sedgwick County in 2005, Kansas Department of Corrections records show.
He was released from prison and put on parole supervision in Sedgwick County on March 7. Wright had spent most of the past 27 years in prison.