Crime & Courts

Four charged with first-degree murder in man’s disappearance

Five people were charged Thursday in connection with the disappearance of 33-year-old Scottie Goodpaster, who authorities think is dead. They are, from left: Willie E. Morris, Alexandria Scott, Heidi Hillard, Brian Bussart and Jeff Hillard. First-degree murder is among charges for all but Scott. Law enforcement is searching for Goodpaster’s body.
Five people were charged Thursday in connection with the disappearance of 33-year-old Scottie Goodpaster, who authorities think is dead. They are, from left: Willie E. Morris, Alexandria Scott, Heidi Hillard, Brian Bussart and Jeff Hillard. First-degree murder is among charges for all but Scott. Law enforcement is searching for Goodpaster’s body. Courtesy photo

UPDATE 4:10 P.M.: Four of five people arrested in connection with the disappearance of a Wichita man after a disturbance in Valley Center are facing first-degree murder charges.

Other counts lodged against Jeff Hillard, Heidi Hillard, Willie Morris and Brian Bussart include aggravated robbery, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated battery. The Hillards also each were charged with one count of rape.

A fifth person charged Thursday, Alexandria Scott, is facing counts of kidnapping and aggravated robbery.

The charges stem from the disappearance of 33-year-old Scottie W. Goodpaster, who authorities said Thursday they think is dead. Authorities learned he was missing after a disturbance was reported Sunday at a home in the 1300 block of South Meridian in Valley Center. Details about what happened have not been released.

The sheriff’s office is asking for the public’s help to find Goodpaster’s body in rural areas of Harvey County.

The defendants were silent during their first appearances, other than answering “yes” or “no” in response to District Judge Tyler Roush’s inquiries about whether they understood and had questions about the allegations. They all are due back in court for their next hearings on Nov. 23.

Their relationships to Goodpaster and what motivated the suspected killing is unknown. All remain in Sedgwick County Jail in lieu of bond.

UPDATE 2:10 P.M.: Authorities now say they think the Wichita man missing after a disturbance was reported at a Valley Center home on Sunday is dead.

Lt. Lin Dehning, in an e-mail sent Thursday afternoon, says the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office believes 33-year-old Scottie W. Goodpaster Jr. is deceased. The agency is also asking for the public’s help to find his body – particularly hunters who may be walking fields in Harvey County over the weekend.

Dehning urged people out in Harvey County “to be on the lookout for anything suspicious.”

“Please do not disturb whatever you find and call 911,” he said in the e-mail.

The agency is also asking for anyone who saw a white extended-cab pickup truck in Harvey County on Sunday to call the sheriff’s investigation section at 316-660-5300 or the records section at 316-660-3888.

Tipsters can also call Wichita-Sedgwick County Crimes Stoppers at 316-267-2111. Calling 911 is also an option, Dehning said in the e-mail.

Five people are expected to be criminally charged Thursday afternoon in connection with Goodpaster’s disappearance. One is being held on suspicion of first-degree murder.

UPDATE 12:40 P.M.: The Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office says five people will be criminally charged Thursday afternoon in connection with the disappearance of a 33-year-old Wichita man after a disturbance at a Valley Center address Sunday.

Brian Bussart, Willie Earl Morris, Jeff Hillard, Heidi Hillard and Alexandria Scott are scheduled to make their first appearance in Sedgwick County District Court at 2:45 p.m. in front of Judge Jeff Goering, the D.A.’s spokesman, Dan Dillon, said by e-mail. At least some of the charges anticipated are connected to crimes that occurred at a Valley Center home. Scottie Goodpaster went missing after a disturbance was reported there Sunday, authorities have said.

Goodpaster’s whereabouts were immediately unclear Thursday. Authorities have remained tight-lipped about what happened at the address, in the 1300 block of South Meridian, saying more couldn’t be disclosed because some of the crimes were sexual in nature.

Bussart and the Hillards were arrested Sunday night and are being held on suspicion of kidnapping and aggravated battery. The Hillards are also being held on suspicion of rape.

Scott, 26, was booked into jail Monday on suspicion of aggravated kidnapping and aggravated robbery, according to jail records.

Morris was arrested and booked Wednesday night. Among the alleged crimes he’s being held on suspicion of is one count of first-degree premeditated murder.

All but Scott are being held in lieu of $1 million bond. Scott’s bond is $100,000.

ORIGINAL STORY: Authorities have arrested a fourth person sought in connection with crimes allegedly committed at a Valley Center home.

Willie Earl Morris, 55, of Wichita, was booked into Sedgwick County Jail at 10:18 p.m. Wednesday on suspicion of first-degree intentional murder, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated robbery, aggravated battery and kidnapping, according to online booking records.

In total, there are 10 counts.

Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter earlier this week said Scottie W. Goodpaster Jr., 33, is missing following a disturbance Sunday in the 1300 block of South Meridian in Valley Center. Authorities have not released any specifics about what happened, citing the sexual nature of at least some of the crimes.

“Detectives are still actively investigating this case and are still looking for evidence,” sheriff’s Lt. Lin Dehning said in response to questions Thursday about Morris’s arrest.

Goodpaster’s location was unclear Thursday morning.

Morris, who is being held in lieu of $1 million bond, is one of four people arrested in connection with the case.

Jeff Hillard, 49, and Heidi Hillard, 42, were jailed on suspicion of kidnapping, aggravated battery and rape, and Brian Bussart, 39, was booked on on suspicion of kidnapping and aggravated battery following their arrests Sunday. The Hillards are Valley Center residents. Bussart is from Wichita.

Their bonds also are $1 million.

Valley Center Police Chief Mark Hephner talks about a possible assault that law enforcement responded to at a home on Sunday.

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

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