Archive for Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Charges imminent in Olathe woman’s death

April 28, 2004

Leavenworth County sheriff's officers, aided by two detectives from Olathe, are tying up loose ends in their investigation into the death of a woman whose body was found last week in an area pond.

According to Leavenworth County Sheriff Herb Nye, the body of Patricia L. Hicks, 37, Olathe, was discovered last Wednesday in a pond at 147th Street and West Mary, just outside of Lansing. Authorities suspect Hicks was kidnapped three days before from her Olathe home, where police found signs of forced entry, and then taken to Leavenworth County, where she was killed.

"She died by drowning, and I don't think it was in a bathtub," Nye said.

He would only say that a lead developed in officers' investigation into Hicks' disappearance led them to the pond, which is about a block west of 147th Street. The day before her body was found, about 100 volunteers searched a pasture and wooded area near Leavenworth County Road 33 and Mount Olivet Road. They also had started their search of the pond.

Officials, Nye said, are considering kidnapping and murder charges in the case, and it's most likely charges would be filed in Leavenworth County. The investigation is focusing on Hicks' estranged husband.

"I think you can say he's the prime suspect," Nye said. "There's at least one other subject we're looking at that might have some information concerning this case."

Nye said Hicks' estranged husband, who currently is in the Johnson County Jail, lived in Lansing with a girlfriend.

"We believe we have enough right now to file charges," Nye said. "We're trying to close all the gaps. As you know, Johnson County had another individual in custody and let him go. We're not certain what his part was, and that is being explored. We're wanting all of the loopholes closed. And, actually, there are leads still coming in. There are a lot of things to be followed up on."

Nye said two Olathe police detectives are working with investigators from the sheriff's office.

The owners of the property at 147th and Mary had nothing to do with Hicks' disappearance or murder, Nye said.

"They've been very cooperative," he added.

Hicks' husband, Gary, 36, was charged last month in Johnson County District Court with making a criminal threat against her.

His bond was set at $1,000, and he was ordered to have no contact with her as a condition of the bond.

Last week, after Patricia Hicks was reported missing, his bond was increased to $500,000, and he was taken into custody.

Court records show that Patricia Hicks filed for divorce March 22, two days after the criminal-threat charge was filed. A judge had issued a protection order that Patricia Hicks had sought against her husband.

Nye said once investigators are satisfied with their probe into the case, they will present their case to Leavenworth County Attorney Frank Kohl. The sheriff said he anticipated charges would be filed with in a week. Attempts to reach Kohl were unsuccessful.

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