Eudora News and Information – www.eudorareporter.com
Story by Caitlin Doornbos, courtesy The Lawrence Journal World
A 48-year-old Eudora man was arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder in connection with the suspicious death of a Lawrence man in September, Lawrence Police Department spokesman Sgt. Trent McKinley said.
Neighbors interviewed Tuesday said police investigating the case at the time asked questions about the dead man’s health care attendants.
Ronald Eugene Heskett was booked into the Douglas County Jail around noon Monday after the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office transported him from Osawatomie State Hospital, according the Douglas County Jail booking log. He is being held on a $500,000 bond.
Around 10:15 a.m. Sept. 12, Lawrence police responded to a report of a dead man in apartment D209 at Prairie Ridge Place Apartments, 2424 Melrose Lane, McKinley said. When police arrived, they found that Vance “Van” Moulton, 65, was deceased.
At first, investigators were unsure whether the death was a suicide or homicide, McKinley said. After further investigation and interviews, police submitted the case to the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office and a judge issued a warrant for Heskett’s arrest.
Last year, the Journal-World featured Moulton in a story about local organizations that help people stay independent in their own homes. Moulton, it was reported, had cerebral palsy.
Betty Carter, who lives across the hall from the apartment where Moulton’s body was discovered, said Lawrence police had lined the second floor of Prairie Ridge Place for about two days after the man died.
Carter said it was a home-care worker that initially reported Moulton’s death.
“He was dead when his worker came,” Carter said. “He had to report it to (Moulton’s home health provider), and they came back and called police.”
Carter and other neighbors said police began questioning residents about Moulton’s healthcare attendants. Carter said police were interested in two healthcare workers.
Shawn Theel, who lives next to the apartment once rented by Moulton, said Moulton rarely had visitors, and that he only saw healthcare attendants enter Moulton’s apartment.
“I talked to him every now and then,” Theel said. “He was quiet and reserved in his wheel chair.”
Because the investigation has been turned over to prosecutors, McKinley directed further questions to the District Attorney’s Office, which was closed Tuesday for Veteran’s Day.