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Mulberry man sentenced to life for murdering roommate - FOX 14 TV Joplin and Pittsburg News Weather Sports |

Mulberry man sentenced to life for murdering roommate

Duane Wahl Duane Wahl
Richard Davis Richard Davis

Updated December 9, 2010 at 6:10 PM CST:  After Thursday's sentencing, Crawford County prosecutor Michael Gayoso Jr. tells us he was confident they had the right man all along.

"It was the first time here in Crawford County that a murder case has been filed without the body being found," Gayoso says.  "We thought we had sufficient evidence to charge him which was crucial in the case to keep him in jail."

Richard Davis disappeared the same day that he filed a restraining order against Duane Wahl.  Davis had told the Crawford County Sheriff's Office that Wahl had confessed to him about poisoning Wahl's girlfriend.

Updated December 9, 2010 at 2:15 PM CST:  A Mulberry, Kansas man was sentenced to life in prison this morning in Crawford County court.  Duane Wahl plead guilty in October to the murder of his former roommate and could be eligible for parole in 25 years.

Wahl had been ruled incompetent to stand trial in April and spent four months at a mental facility for evaluation and treatment.

Wahl first made headlines in February 2009 in a dispute with McCune Mayor Don Call.  Wahl, a resident of McCune at the time, reported a shooting saying the mayor shot his dogs.  Mayor Call claimed the dogs were menacing neighbors.

In October 2009 the Crawford County Sheriff's Office received a call from Wahl, who said he had been shot at by a man driving by his house.  Investigators determined the report was fake, and Wahl had fired the shots.

Less than a month later, in early November, Wahl was staying with Richard Davis in Mulberry when Davis's wife reported him missing.

In late November, Wahl plead guilty to indecent liberties with a child under the age of 16.  While sentencing was pending in that case, Wahl was arrested and charged in December for the murder of Davis, even though his body would not be found until January 2010, nearly two months after he went missing.

Authorities say it was members of Wahl's family who turned him in and reported the location of the body, which was found in a shallow grave.  Authorities say blood was found both at the scene and in Wahl's vehicle.

CORRECTED at 4:00 PM CST:  It was previously reported that Duane Wahl could be eligible for parole in 20 years.  In fact, he could be eligible for parole in 25 years.

Updated October 27, 2010 - 11:20 AM CST:  Crawford County prosecutor Michael Gayoso says Duane Wahl plead guilty to first degree premeditated murder this morning in Crawford County, District Court in Girard.

Wahl faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole for 25 years.

Sentencing is set for December 9.

The factual basis read in court by Gayoso is posted in its entirety:

Wahl Factual Basis:

On or about the 30th day of October, 2009 Richard Davis called the Crawford County Sheriff's Department at approximately 1:31PM inquiring about why Duane Wahl was still walking the streets after he confessed to him about poisoning Wahl's girlfriend.  Richard Davis and his family was residing with Duane Wahl and his girlfriend at Wahl's residence located in Mulberry, Crawford County, Kansas.  On that same date a Protection from Abuse order was issued in the District Court of Crawford County, Kansas against Duane Wahl and Deputies of the Sheriff's Department was attempting to locating Wahl to serve him with the order at his home. 

Later that afternoon, Michelle Davis, Richard Davis' wife reported Richard Davis missing.  Law Enforcement was already present at Wahl's the residence attempting to locate Wahl.  Wahl was located in the town of Mulberry and he requested to go to his residence to pick up clothing.  Law enforcement escorted Wahl to his residence.  Michael Krieger, a newly hired EMT traveling with law enforcement was standing outside of  Wahl's residence and noticed that Wahl was attempting to throw water on something on his driveway.  Once Wahl left the residence, Krieger notified the Deputies that were present about what he had witnessed and took him to the location of where Wahl was.  Law enforcement noticed what they believed to be blood on the driveway.  They immediately secured the scene and contacted Det. Stu Hite of the Sheriff's Department to investigate.  The following day, Wahl's vehicle was later secured and after obtaining a search warrant for his vehicle, Hite and Special Agent Steve Roseborough noticed that there was blood splatter inside the trunk of Wahl's vehicle.  They also noticed that the trunk had appeared to be cleaned with bleach.  

DNA results conducted by the Criminalistics Laboratory at the Johnson County Sheriff's Department concluded that the blood found on the driveway and in the trunk belonged to Richard Davis and Duane Wahl was charged with 1st degree premeditated murder.

During this time frame, no injuries where ever witnessed by law enforcement of Duane Wahl.  Wahl was interviewed by law enforcement and after waiving his Miranda rights he agreed to speak to law enforcement.  Wahl spoke to law enforcement on multiple occasions and each time was read his Miranda rights and each time he waived those rights.  Wahl provided multiple inconsistent statements varying from Richard Davis still being alive to Richard Davis being abducted by individuals to Richard Davis being dead.  

During the pendency of the investigation, numerous search parties were unsuccessful in locating Richard Davis and no contact was ever made from Richard Davis to his family.

On January 17, 2010 Matthew Wahl and Jason Barrett, the brothers of Duane Wahl contacted law enforcement and stated that they were at a field located West of 270th Street on 660th Ave. in rural Mulberry, Kansas, and they have found what appeared to be the head of a human being buried in the field and they immediately stopped digging.  They were directed to this location by the Defendant, Duane Wahl, after Wahl had provided a detailed map to his mother through a third party. The map prepared by Wahl and given to his family was turned over to law enforcement.

Law enforcement arrived at the scene and unearthed the body which was found in a shallow grave.  The body was later identified to be Richard Davis.

An autopsy was performed my Dr. Erik Mitchell and determined that Richard Davis died as a result of blunt trauma to the head.  He further found that Richard Davis had depressed fractures to the right temple, occipital fracture, facial fractures, and  lacerations to the left forehead.  

Based on all the evidence, the State believes that it would have shown beyond a reasonable doubt had this matter been taken to a jury that on or about the 30th day of October 2009 that Duane Wahl killed Richard Davis with premeditation.

The facts for premeditation that the State would have relied upon are as follows:
1) numerous inconsistent statements made by the defendant.
2) the defendant attempting to conceal and destroy blood evidence on his driveway and trunk.
3) lack of injuries on the defendant.
4) no indication of provocation.
5) type of injuries on Richard Davis' body
6) actions by the defendant after the murder including burying the body in a shallow grave.

Updated August 12, 2010 - 1:25 PM CST:  A Four State man charged with murder is now ruled competent to stand trial.  Attorneys agreed Thursday morning in Crawford County court that Duane Wahl of Mulberry is now able to go to trial for murder.

Four months ago a judge ruled him incompetent to stand trial after a mental evaluation.

That ruling was reversed today.

Wahl is charged with killing Richard Davis.

Davis was reported missing last October.

Authorities arrested Wahl in December and charged him with murder, a month before finding Davis' body.

A tip lead them to a field in rural Crawford County where they found Davis, buried in a shallow grave.

Now that Wahl has been ruled competent to stand trial.  His preliminary hearing will be held in October.

Updated April 5, 2010 - 6:00 PM CST:  A court finds an accused killer incompetent to stand trial.  The ruling came in a hearing Monday for Duane Wahl.

He will now go to Larned, Kansas State Mental Facility for evaluation.

Wahl is charged in the death of Richard Davis.

Davis had gone missing last October.  His body was found in a shallow grave near Mulberry, Kansas in January.

A relative of Duane Wahl tipped off law enforcement to the possible location of Davis's body and Wahl was charged even before the body was recovered.

Wahl could remain at Larned for six months to determine if he can become competent to stand trial.

If he can not be successfully treated, he will remain in a mental facility indefinitely.

Updated Jan 19, 2010 - 4:33 PM CST:  CRAWFORD COUNTY, KAN. - The body authorities found Sunday in Crawford County, Kansas is that of Richard Davis, a man reported missing last October by his family.

On Sunday officials received a tip about the location of his body.

Officers with the Crawford County sheriff's office, along with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, unearthed the man's body on Monday.

The site was a mile north of Mulberry where Davis lived.

Duane Wahl has been charged with murder in the case.

Crawford County Sheriff Sandy Horton says they know the cause of death but are not releasing it at this time.

Sheriff Horton says it was one of Wahl's family members that called in the tip to authorities.

Updated Jan 18, 2010 - 5:00 PM CST:  The Crawford County sheriff believes a body found Sunday around 5:30 p.m. could be the body of Kansas man who has been missing since October.

Forensics teams comb through the evidence at a shallow grave site just north of Mulberry, Kansas.

"It's important that we collect every single piece of evidence that might be around that body or on that body so it's going to be a long effort," says Sheriff Sandy Horton.

The sheriff believes the body could be that of Richard Davis, a man who went missing from Mulberry, Kansas in October.

Duane Wahl is facing charges for the death of Davis.

It was a family member of Wahl that gave law enforcement the location of the body.

"We got a family member telling us this is where to look, this is where to dig, but we aren't going to make any assumptions until we have the facts in front of us and we know this is who we are talking about."

While the Crawford County sheriff waits for the identity of the body to return from Topeka investigators hope it could be a strong piece of evidence in a murder trial and closure for the victims family.

"We had a very strong forensics case already and the county attorney agreed with our idea of a forensics case and agreed that we did in fact have a strong case against Mr. Wahl or he wouldn't have filed charges," Sheriff Horton says.  "Discovering this body is initially very important for his family but secondarily it is just as important for the case."

While locating Richard Davis's body has been the main goal in the case against Duane Wahl, Sheriff Horton says there is still work to be done by his department.

"We're going to continue to investigate this case.  This is a law enforcement issue.  At this point we're going to pursue further, we really can't change what Mr. Wahl's charge is at this time, because one we have a body, but two we don't know who.  We have to get that thoroughly completed and that identification done."

Duane Wahl is in custody at the Crawford County jail without bond.

No word yet on the cause of Richard Davis' death at this time.

Updated Jan 18, 2010 - 2:03 PM CST:  Authorities find a body in a shallow grave and a Four State sheriff hopes it is the evidence they need to shore up a murder case.

Crawford County Sheriff Sandy Horton says the body was found Sunday about 5:30 p.m.  They are now collecting evidence at the scene.

Once the body is removed from the site it will go to Topeka for autopsy.

That is when they hope to learn the body is that of Richard Davis.

Davis was reported missing by his family on October 30.

Officials have charged Duane Wahl with Davis' murder.  They filed the charges before the body was even found.  Sheriff Horton said the evidence they had already collected was strong enough for murder charges.

Authorities hope to have a positive identification Monday afternoon.

Updated Dec 11, 2009 - 5:15 PM CST:  CRAWFORD COUNTY, KAN. - Duane Wahl has made his first court appearance in Crawford County.

An attorney was appointed to represent him on the murder charge and on a separate charge of burglary.

Authorities believe Wahl killed his former roommate, Richard Davis, who has been missing since the end of October.

The Crawford County Sheriff's Department continues to search for Davis' body.

Wahl is awaiting sentencing on a previous conviction for aggravated indecent liberties with a child.

Updated Dec 10, 2009 - 8:00 PM CST:  MULBERRY, KAN. - A man involved in a series of crimes is now facing a charge of first degree murder.  Duane Wahl is facing a charge of first degree murder for the death of his roommate, Richard Davis.

The Crawford County sheriff says investigators immediately suspected foul play when Richard Davis, 37, was reported missing on October 30.

At the time of his disappearance Davis was living in Mulberry, Kansas in a house with Duane Wahl, the man now charged with his murder.

"I will not be able to discuss a lot of the details but it is so complicated and there are so many issues involved that it's going to be very confusing to the general public," says Sheriff Sandy Horton.

The two men lived in a Mulberry home with Wahl's then girlfriend and Davis's wife and children.

Anna Khan says she broke her relationship with Wahl after police said he staged a drive by shooting at his own home.

"I was yelling at him one night about shooting the house," Khan told us.  "And I was screaming 'what if you had hit Nola?  What if you had hit Bailey?  What were you thinking?'  And he goes 'I wasn't.'"

In 2008 Wahl was charged with aggravated indecent liberties with a child in 2008.

Wahl has since been convicted of that crime and is now awaiting sentencing.

Khan says that is when he started behaving strangely.

"I think he thought he didn't have any control over other stuff so maybe he could have control over something, everybody wants control in their life no matter what it is," Khan says.

But police say just days after Wahl committed two thefts in Crawford County he killed Richard Davis, whose body is still missing.

"We have not found the body of Richard Davis and there's still work to be done," Sheriff Horton says.  "We still have some things to follow up but when we received the DNA results late yesterday afternoon we felt comfortable enough and visited with the county attorney and he's been involved of course on the investigative side, but we felt there was enough there to make the arrest and we did."

Duane Wahl's name first surfaced after a dog shooting incident in McCune, Kansas.  McCune Mayor Don Call admittedly shot and killed two of Wahl's dog on February 1, 2009.

Wahl is scheduled to make his first appearance in court in connection with his murder charge Friday morning.

Updated Dec 10, 2009 - 11:00 AM CST:  CRAWFORD COUNTY, KAN. - The missing person case of Richard Davis from Mulberry, Kansas is now a murder case.  Crawford County officials have been looking for Richard Davis since the end of October.

His wife reported him missing and Sheriff Sandy Horton says they have suspected foul play in the man's disappearance but could not locate a body.

While Davis' body still has not been found authorities say they have enough to file murder charges.

A McCune, Kansas man recently convicted of indecent liberties with a child is in custody for the murder.

Updated Nov. 13, 2009:  A Mulberry, Kansas man pleads guilty to indecent liberties with a child under the age of 16.

Duane Wahl, 33, will be sentenced in January.

In October we brought you another story involving Wahl.  The Crawford County Sheriff's Office received a call from Wahl, who said he had been shot at by a man driving by his house.

Posted Nov 2, 2009 - 6:02 PM CST:  Crawford County, Kansas Sheriff Sandy Horton says foul play is suspected in the disappearance of Richard Davis of Mulberry.

Davis has been reported missing since around noon on Friday.

He is 37 years old, 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighs 145 pounds.  He has blond hair and blue eyes and was last seen wearing blue jeans, a gray t-shirt, and a denim jacket.

Sheriff Horton asks anyone with information to call the Crawford County sheriff's office at (620) 724-8274.

Posted Oct 5, 2009 06:22 PM CDT:  MULBERRY, KAN. - A drive-by shooting in Mulberry, Kansas with ties to another story of violence we brought you several months ago.

The Crawford County Sheriff's Office received a call Monday afternoon from a man who said he had been shot at by a white male driving a newer model silver Toyota truck.

The man who reported the shooting is Duane Wahl, whose dogs were shot by McCune Mayor Don Call earlier this year.

In that dispute, the mayor claimed the dogs were menacing the neighbors.  Wahl said the animals were chained in his yard.

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