Crime & Courts

Valley Center man arrested at elementary school after manhunt for child rape suspect

A police manhunt for a child rape suspect ended with a man arrested at a Valley Center elementary school early Saturday morning.

Steven Thomas Walters, 37, of Valley Center, was arrested on suspicion of child rape and indecent liberties with a child, Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office records show. Walters was booked into jail at around 4:18 a.m. Saturday after being arrested at West Elementary School, 501 N. Sheridan.

As of Sunday afternoon, Walters remained in the Sedgwick County Jail in lieu of a $500,000 bond.

Sheriff’s office reports show the rape of a victim younger than 14 was reported at around 11:30 a.m. Friday.

The Ark Valley News reported that Valley Center police initiated a manhunt after a crime was reported at around 11:30 a.m. Friday at a home in the 4200 block of West 89th Street North. The hours-long search centered on a neighboring cornfield and involved police dogs, a drone and a Kansas Highway Patrol aircraft.

Walters lives in that same block, according to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation violent offender registry. Kansas Department of Corrections records show Walters was previously convicted in Sedgwick County of aggravated battery and criminal threat.

Sedgwick County District Court records show Walters was sentenced to probation in that case after taking a plea deal that lessened the child sex crime charges he faced.

Prosecutors originally charged Walters with rape, sodomy and aggravated indecent liberties with an 8-year-old child, sodomy of a different 8-year-old child, sodomy of a 6-year-old child and sodomy of a 5-year-old child. The alleged crimes occurred in 2013 and 2014.

As part of a plea deal with the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s office, Walters pleaded guilty in 2015 to lesser charges of four felony counts of aggravated battery and two misdemeanor counts of criminal restraint. Kansas sentencing guidelines called for presumptive probation on all counts, court records show.

Walters was sentenced to 24 months probation and 12 months of post-release supervision with an underlying 58 months in prison and 12 months in jail. He was required to register as a violent offender, but not as a sex offender.

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