Authorities in Leavenworth announce arrest in death of 5-year-old girl

07/21/2014 7:01 PM

07/21/2014 10:31 PM

Officials on Monday announced the arrest of an Atchison, Kan., man in their investigation of a 5-year-old girl’s death in Leavenworth on Friday.

Leavenworth Police Chief Patrick Kitchens identified Marcus McGowan, 30, as the man arrested. The file he was submitting to the Leavenworth county attorney could lead to several charges, he said, among them first-degree felony murder.

Kitchens said he was announcing McGowan’s arrest to quell concerns or rumors that he had been released.

“Mr. McGowan remains hospitalized in a Kansas City area hospital under heavy guard,” Kitchens said in a news conference in Leavenworth.

Other charges against McGowan could include aggravated kidnapping, aggravated child endangerment, aggravated assault against a law enforcement officer and criminal possession of a firearm, he said.

Neither Kitchens nor Mark Malick, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation’s special agent in charge, would elaborate on any scenarios as to how 5-year-old Cadence Harris died.

“We are not commenting specifically about the case,” Kitchens said. “The fact that he was arrested for that crime, I think you can infer from that what you will.”

Cadence, known by family members as Cady, was found dead Friday night in a vehicle after Leavenworth police exchanged gunfire with her mother’s sometimes boyfriend.

McGowan allegedly had taken the girl from the home they were sharing in Atchison after being involved in a domestic dispute with the girl’s mother.

A high-speed chase ensued and wandered into Platte County before leading to Leavenworth, where officers continued the pursuit for several minutes until the vehicle was stopped in a construction area near 20th Street and Metropolitan Avenue.

There, the suspect allegedly pointed a handgun at police officers, who returned fire and wounded him. His injuries were reported to be serious but not life-threatening.

Court records show that a bench warrant had been issued the day before in Atchison County District Court for McGowan because he failed to appear for a hearing related to several domestic violence-related cases for which he was on probation.

Members of his family have said that McGowan was taking medication for mental health problems.

Friends and family who knew McGowan and Cady’s mother said that although McGowan wasn’t Cady’s biological father, she referred to him as dad, and he had been involved in the girl’s life since she was a baby.

But court records show that McGowan and Cady’s mother had a volatile relationship and he had been convicted in Atchison County of several crimes involving domestic battery and related charges.

In 2009, McGowan was charged with aggravated assault and domestic battery. He later pleaded guilty to amended charges of making a criminal threat and obstructing the legal process.

In 2010, McGowan pleaded no contest to a charge of domestic battery. The next year he was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The charge was later reduced and he pleaded guilty to domestic battery.

In 2012, McGowan was charged in Platte County Circuit Court with two counts of violating a protection order involving Cady’s mother, records there show.

Court documents in that case allege that McGowan made many attempts to contact her by phone and text message after he was under court order to have no contact.

Even with a deputy sheriff at the residence taking the report, McGowan allegedly texted her “C u outside with the police,” and another that read, “They can’t watch u 24/7. We will talk.”

She told police that he had assaulted her in the past and “discharged” a firearm at her, according to the court documents.

To reach Brian Burnes, call 816-234-4120 or send email to bburnes@kcstar.com. To reach Tony Rizzo, call 816-234-4435 or send email to trizzo@kcstar.com.

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