Darkness interrupted the search for 18-month old Lana-Leigh Bailey of Olathe on Thursday.
About 150 investigators — on foot, horseback and all-terrain vehicles — combed rural Franklin County farmland throughout the day looking for the child, who investigators believe is dead.
“It’s not the outcome that any one of us wanted,” Franklin County Sheriff Jeffrey Richard said Thursday afternoon.
It marked the end of an emotional day as family members reacted not only to that news but also the arrest of an Ottawa, Kan., man in connection with killings at a farm outside Ottawa.
Prosecutors are expected to charge Kyle Flack, 27, with multiple counts of first-degree murder in the case, Richards said. A convicted felon, he apparently had lived on the property until being kicked out recently for not helping pay the bills. He was being held Thursday in the Franklin County Jail.
No charges had been announced Thursday.
Personnel from multiple law enforcement agencies joined in Thursday’s search, including the FBI, the Kansas Highway Patrol and a mounted search and rescue team from Johnson County. Representatives of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children also joined the investigation Thursday, Richards said.
“Our work has not stopped with this arrest, but has intensified,” Richards said.
Lana’s mother, Kaylie Bailey, 21, had been identified Wednesday as among the three adults found dead Monday and Tuesday on the property in the 3100 block of Georgia Road. The other victims were Andrew Stout, 30, who lived at the farm, and Steven E. White, 31, one of his roommates.
Relatives had reported Bailey and her daughter missing May 3 to Olathe police, who notified Franklin County authorities that she had been headed to the farm address when last seen May 1. On Sunday, friends of Stout called deputies to the farm because they couldn’t find him, and a foul odor could be smelled there. Deputies attributed the odor to trash and left without finding any of the bodies, only to be called back again Monday by the same friends.
Bailey’s family had prayed for days that Lana-Leigh — who loved snuggling in people’s laps as they read to her — would be found safe. One grandmother said Thursday she was distraught after learning that authorities believed the girl was dead.
“I was hoping she was alive,” said Rachel Helms-Bailey, the mother of Lana-Leigh’s father, Shawn Bailey. “I want to know how she died; they will not tell me.”
Jim Smith, Kaylie Bailey’s father, also said Thursday that deputies had not explained why they believed his granddaughter was dead.
“I can only speculate,” Smith said, adding that he didn’t know Flack and doesn’t know if Kaylie did.
When asked what he will miss most about Kaylie, tears rolled down his face.
“Everything,” he said in a soft voice.
“She was a very wonderful and kind person,” he added, in a whisper. “She is a very dear child. And I miss her greatly.”
Prior to going into security work, Kaylie explored the field of nursing, Smith said.
“I was proud of anything she did,” Smith said. “She was a good kid — smart. She could’ve done anything she wanted to do.”
Jackson Anderson of Wichita, who owns the farm and is Stout’s brother, said his family wanted privacy but justice as well.
“I just have been mourning the loss of my brother,” Anderson said.
“This is not anything for me to talk about right now; I need to hold my family together. I am the oldest sibling. My family — all we have been asking for is one, privacy, and, two, can someone find Lana?
“We have turned off the television right now; my brother is gone. Can justice be brought? We are asking that, please. We want justice.”
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Members of another Ottawa family were startled and upset Thursday to learn of Flack’s apparent involvement in the slayings.
In 2005, authorities charged Flack with attempted murder for shooting Steve Free five times outside Free’s house in Ottawa.
Flack’s family was struggling financially at the time, and Free stepped up and hired the then-19-year-old to work in Free’s painting and drywall business.
But Flack’s tardiness and bad attitude forced Free to fire him, said Free’s sister, Stephanie Ingram.
The next night, Free took a break from playing pool and hanging out with his nephew to step outside his home.
Ingram heard five quick explosions that she thought were firecrackers. But when she went outside, she saw her brother on the ground and heard her son screaming, “Kyle just shot Steve!”
Her son told Ingram that he saw Flack and heard him laughing as he ran away.
Free was taken by air ambulance to an Overland Park hospital, where he was kept in a medically induced coma for several days. His arms and hands were so damaged by his wounds that he never was able to work again, Ingram said.
The bullet fragments doctors could not remove from his lung left him with chronic breathing problems, which family members believe may have contributed to his death from cancer in December 2011.
Ingram said her brother was upset when prosecutors reached a plea agreement with Flack that called for a five-year prison sentence.
“Steve was pretty mad,” she said.
And as it turned out, Flack served even less time. He was paroled in July 2009.
Free didn’t know Flack had been released until he saw Flack working on a truck picking up trash in his neighborhood. And of the $78,000 he was supposed to pay in restitution, Flack only paid about $300 before Free died, Ingram said.
Ingram’s daughter, Candice Gragg, said even before Flack shot her uncle, she felt uneasy around him.
“He seemed odd,” she said. “It was awkward being around him.”
Like other family members, Gragg said she was upset at what they consider was a lenient sentence.
“He intentionally tried to kill another human being,” she said.
At the time of the plea, the family was told that Flack would be under parole supervision for 15 years. Instead, he was released from supervision last year, according to Kansas Department of Corrections records.
“These other families didn’t have to go through this,” Gragg said. “He shouldn’t have been out here for this to happen.”
As the search progressed Thursday, investigators would have been concentrating on two priorities, said Jeff Lanza, a former Kansas City-area FBI agent who now speaks on security and risk management.
The first: Searching the farm property for the body, he said.
“They would be conducting a shoulder-to-shoulder search, walking the property,” Lanza said. “They can bring in dogs that are specially trained to locate bodily remains.”
Indeed, a large number of searchers could be seen walking back and forth on the property in an apparent grid pattern Thursday afternoon. A second group of searchers could be seen examining a site near a line of trees. Other searchers covered ground on horseback.
As the search goes on, Lanza said, other investigators would be pulling all available information on the principal suspect and trying to learn what they could about his activities over the last several days.
“They now are going to be looking for any kind of cell phone records or GPS information that would indicate where the person had been traveling,” Lanza said.
The search for the child’s body, Lanza added, could be complicated by the days that elapsed between Friday — when Kaylie’s family members alerted authorities that she and her daughter were missing — to Monday, when deputies discovered the first bodies.
“It’s unclear to me what happened during that period,” Lanza said. “Investigators usually will compile a timeline, and any time you have gaps in an investigation you try to fill those in.”
Tips on the slayings continued to come in Thursday.
Richards emphasized that the investigation would be “thoroughly and appropriately done.” He added that the variety of forensics tests being conducted do not produce instant results.
“We need to do this in a methodical manner,” Richards said. “We will continue to follow up on leads and continue with our search until we get this case resolved.”
The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone with information in the case to called the county Crime Stoppers Hotline at 888-311-TIPS (311-8477).