Hearne: Murderer’s Row Lawrence, Courtesy of Topeka

FullSizeRenderSmall town thinking can be a little small-minded…

Make no mistake, Lawrence, Kansas is definitely a small town in most every sense of the term – complete with good old boy politics and a sleepy citizenry. The small townsters here go crazy when the basketball team wins…or loses. Yet they yawn and rub their eyes when local big shots team up with the university and/or elected officials and pull a fast one.

As was the case with the new $40 million Rock Chalk Park, that local pols tap danced past allowing taxpayers to vote on and a skipped competitive bidding on it’s construction. The project then proceeded despite contractor-ignored warnings by inspectors that its roadwork didn’t meet city standards. The latest concern being concrete cracking in the spanking new facility.

Ah, but not to worry, life goes on – what was that basketball score last night?

There is however quite a fuss being made about the murder rate in Lawrence.

That’s because six locals bit the dust this past year courtesy of untoward endings. 

“A Deadly Year,” shouts the front page headline in today’s Lawrence Journal World. Add to that a “Disturbing Tally” headline atop the newspaper’s editorial descrying this dark abomination.

“This is an area in which Lawrence doesn’t want to catch up to its larger neighbor to the west,” the editorial begins. “As 2014 came to a close, Topeka officials were reporting that the city recorded just seven homicides during the year.”

Sarah McLinn

Sarah McLinn

Hold it, six homicides in Lawrence “cries out for attention,” but seven in Topeka is characterized by the word “just” – as in, “just seven homicides.” 

Here’s what the Journal World forgot while wringing it hands over six measly murders:

At least half of the Lawrence slayings last year had Topeka connections.

  • CiCi’s Pizza owner Harold Sasko was carved up by Topekan Sarah McLinn.
  • Topeka’s Archie Lamont Robinson is charged with first-degree murder and aggravated battery in the death of Patrick Roberts of Lawrence.
  • And Christina Kaplan was allegedly killed by a woman who was found in Topeka in the Shawnee County jail.

Which reinforces the perception by many that Topeka is responsible for too many of the crimes committed here in Lawrence.

In case you’re wondering why the fuss over six killings, between 2009 and 2013 there were zero murders in Jayhawk Land and but three in 2013.

Detroit

Detroit

That’s a far cry from the murder rate in the nation’s murder capital – Detroit, Michigan – where according to the FBI, 45 of every 100,000 people got bumped off in 2013.

Lawrence is a hair shy of having a 100,00 population.

Since the national average murder rate per 100,000 is 4.5, thanks to the good folks in Topeka, Lawrence exceeded that by a whopping 44 percent.

None of which is mentioned in either of today’s  Journal World stories.

Like I said, sleepy city.

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8 Responses to Hearne: Murderer’s Row Lawrence, Courtesy of Topeka

  1. admin says:

    Just was thinking after I added that cover art, there’s no rest for the wicked or the dead here in Lawrence…

    It’s bad enough being murdered in a small town that mostly only cares about basketball, but then your relatives and friends have to relive everything with giant headshot of you a year after the fact.

    Rest in peace? Not a chance!

  2. Lawrence Danger says:

    It is now more dangerous to live in Lawrence than to be a uniformed officer in the United States. 5.5 murder rate per 100,000 for police officers, over 6 per 100,000 in Lawrence. CRAZY!!!!!!!!!

  3. hahhararley says:

    excellent article hearne. although its about lawrnece and I m a mu tiger
    fan…
    someone there should have covered the hangar 9 fiasco on Nye…thesere
    is a huge story there that needs to be told.
    I know you think I harass you but I’ve been a reader of yours for
    mant years. Therers a lot going on that needs to be reported…
    and no ones doing it.
    here’s one….a major is about to go belly up…then look at the cathlics in
    the payday loan biz and how many kc upper crust people got screwed
    in those dealws…
    good work here….wish you could find someone to really do some
    in depth articles because kc is filled with “American greed” type
    stories.
    nicearticle…would love to see more because there is no one filling
    the void in this area.
    happy new year….

  4. CFPCowboy says:

    As University towns go, Lawrence is definitely a city, but size has little to do with graft and corruption. Having spent 10 years of my life in a smaller berg of higher learning, nothing in Lawrence surprises me. The berg I lived in saw its first murder in nearly 100 years, but it was soon followed by a string of other idiocies, all brought to us by the invention of civilization. Bozeman’s first murder in 100 years ended up as part of the plot of a television program, New York CSI, where Montana, the new girl, was able to prove the murder without the body. The person murdered was a Sheriff’s deputy in West Yellowstone, and the murderer turned out to be the husband of the deputy’s girl friend. It actually did happen. The investigation centered on the deputy’s pick up and camper, found parked at a truck stop in Belgrade, a city just west of Bozeman, and the fact that ballistics confirmed the firearm, and the existence of brain matter inside the camper, proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the deputy was gone. It seems that murder follows civilization. It was followed in short order by a murder on campus, a murder of a father by his gang member son, and several other attempts that failed by the skin of their teeth, a in a berg that still printed in the newspaper, the response of the Bozeman police with garlic and crosses to Dracula in the park, at Halloween. I do not know about the influences of Butte, Helena, and Livingston on Bozeman crime, except to say that the Unabomber was not far away. What I can say definitely is that, particularly during hunting season, there are no drive-by shootings because there are thirty pickup trucks parked in the lot at Safeway, all with rifles in the window, and they shoot back.

  5. the dude says:

    Arwence of Sasnakistan- Murda City.

  6. arenot says:

    Quote from Chad Lawhorn’s story in ljw. Schumm files for re-election on Lawrence City Commission .
    City Commissioner Bob Schumm filed for re-election Tuesday, saying he THINKS many residents of the city are PLEASED with the direction of the community.
    I could not find five people that agreed with this, This comish is having delusions of grandeur. Are we pleased with the direction of the community let’see, GIVE AWAY A $40,000000 NO BID CONTRACT WITH A PROMISE OF IT’S FOR THE BEST. $18,000000 FOR A LIBRARY THAT IS INDIRECT VIOLATION OF HYSTERICAL EVIRONS RULE, SUPPORTS A NEW POLICE STATION AS AN AFTER THOUGHT(taking the most expensive piece of dirt in Lawrence off the tax rolls) COMPETING WITH LOCAL BUSINESS FOR REAL ESTATE DEVELOPMENT, RAISING THE BARRIER TO ENTRY FOR NEW BUSINESS ( that could help with the tax burden) TAX,SPEND,GIVEAWAY, TAX BREAKS FOR APARTMENT DEVELOPERS. ALLOW THE CITY MANAGER TO COMPLETELY SHUT DOWN EVERY MAJOR STREET IN LAWRENCE FOR 4 MONTHS.
    Yes, we like the direction Lawrence is going , Let’s elect him again.

    • admin says:

      Sounds like I’ve got some work to do are not.

      For the unenlightened, Schumm is an old school downtown Lawrence barber who has been mayor at least once and can’t keep his nose out of city government.

      He’s elected, but I’m not sure how he works the term limits game here (or frankly if there is one).

      But for the record, it’s a good old boy world here and damn few peopleThat I’ve run into have anything approaching a concerned citizen outlook and/or a desire to clean up Dodge City.

      Remember that 1960s version of HG Wells “The Time Machine”?

      Lawrence is a city of Morlocks

  7. Jeff Baker says:

    When you have a College/Bed and Breakfast Town between 2 large metro areas, you are likely to attract both affluent individuals wanting to take in the culture and also some shady charters that are up to no good.

    To quote an annoying them song from the 80’s,

    “You take the good, you take the bad,
    you take them both and there you have
    The facts of life, the facts of life.”

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