September 7—Advances in forensic science may help the Kansas Bureau of Investigation unravel the mystery of a Great Bend double homicide that has gone unsolved for 20 years. Corey Latham, special agent in charge of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, stood outside the KBI office building in Great Bend and spoke Tuesday at a news conference where he said KBI identified a male DNA sample taken from the body of one of two women. murdered at the Dolly Madison Bakery Outlet store, located at 1004 Harrison St.
“Last Sunday, September 4, marked the 20th anniversary of the deaths of Mary Drake and Mandi Alexander,” Latham said. On that date in 2002, the Great Bend Police Department received a call from a trucker from Dolly Madison Bakery who stopped there to make a delivery at approximately 7:55 pm and found the bodies.
“A thorough investigation was carried out at that time. For hundreds of weeks, we have interviewed hundreds of people; thousands of personalities have been working on this investigation, but today no one has been arrested for this. We hope to change that.” . he said.
“Over the past year, KBI agents and forensic scientists have conducted a comprehensive review of all of the physical evidence that was collected in this case, focusing on technologies that have advanced beyond where they were in 2002, focusing especially on areas that could produce results that will be useful to them. As a result of that, we have identified a male DNA sample that was on one of the bodies, so that in itself is quite significant.”
Unfortunately, this is not a DNA profile that can be put into a national database to look for a match, Latham said.
“The DNA profile, as I said, is a male profile, so they are Y-STRs (taken specifically from the male Y chromosome). The Y-STRs are useful to us in terms of a direct comparison. What I mean by that is that we need to have the name of an individual, and then we will ask that individual to give us a sample of their DNA. And then we can compare that.”
While this is useful information, it doesn’t immediately reveal the name of a suspect, he admitted. However, it is a promising lead because numerous DNA samples have previously been collected by Great Bend Police Department detectives, KBI officers and Barton County Sheriff’s Office officials in connection with this investigation.
“We will continue those efforts,” which helps law enforcement observe people and, in some cases, eliminate suspects.
“Obviously we’re looking for the right person, which is why we’re holding this press conference today. We’re hoping we can find a person who maybe has just a little bit of information, hopefully we can find a detail.” that they may not have shared in the past, or a suspicion about an individual that we can then use in our investigation.
“The KBI, the Great Bend Police Department, the Barton County Sheriff’s Office – we are committed to solving this crime. Our condolences go out to the family and friends of Mary and Mandi. We know it has been a difficult 20 years for them, and we want nothing more than to solve this crime ourselves.”
Public aid still needed
Lathem also thanked the public for dozens, if not hundreds, of tips and hints shared over the years.
“We have done everything possible to eliminate each and every one of them and will continue to do so. Therefore, we would ask for continued support. If anyone has even the smallest detail that is relevant to this case, we would ask them to do so. Share that by calling to KBI at 1-800-KS-CRIME, or by submitting anonymously at www.kbi.ks.gov/sar, or by calling Barton County Crime Stoppers.”
There is still a $17,000 reward for information leading to a solve this time.
Latham fielded some questions from the media, but said he did not want to reveal evidence that would prevent law enforcement from making a strong case in court when it comes time to bring a suspect to justice. But Mandi Alexander’s sister, Desiree Werth, expressed her frustration with the KBI.
“I want to know why you have never kept in touch with the families,” Werth said. “Why have we always had to find out through social media, things that have happened or what you’re doing now?
“Just like the other day, I got a phone call from Brian (Carroll, Senior Special Agent, Lead Investigator on the case). However, as soon as I hung up the phone after asking him directly if there was any new information he could give me, He said no, because that information would only be known by the perpetrator, and the police. Then he hung up the phone and read on Facebook that he has new evidence. …
“We’d rather you pick up the phone and say, ‘hey, we don’t really have any new information to give you, but we want you to know that we care and we’re still here’ than not hear from you. Do you understand what that feels like? Apparently no, because it’s been going on for 20 years.”
Carroll was in the audience, along with Great Bend Police Chief Steve Haulmark and Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir. Latham invited Werth into the KBI office to discuss it further.
Latham acknowledged that this is a tough case, and has been from day one.
“We hoped to have this figured out in the first year. Certainly as time goes on it doesn’t help, but we’re optimistic we’ll get there. This release of DNA information is a significant development.” if.”
Mandi Alexander’s friend Kathye Phelps comforted Werth and joined her after the news conference. When asked what Mandi was like, Phelps said, “I remember her being very kind. Loving, shy, very wholesome. She was always happy and loved her kids immensely. She was very family oriented.” Phelps said that all of Drake and Alexander’s family members have appreciated everything that police have done.
“It’s only been 20 years and how can you not be incredibly upset? How can you not? I know you appreciate law enforcement, but let’s get this figured out.”