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Lawrence Police have suspect in April hit and run death

LAWRENCE, Kan. - A suspect has been identified in the April hit and run death of a homeless man here but no arrest has been made.

On April 28, John Lowe was struck by a car in an alley in Lawrence. His body was dragged some 200 feet by the vehicle and left in the gutter. The driver of the hit and run vehicle fled the scene. Lowe was pronounced dead at the scene.

Lawrence Police say they have finished their investigation and submitted the results to the Douglas County District Attorney's office. Detective M.T. Brown, department spokesman, said a warrant for the suspect has been requested.

Brown was one of the officers on the scene and described the investigation as one of the most complex he had ever encountered.

"We went door to door in the neighborhood, passed out flyers and had a team that went around and inspected underneath every vehicle in the neighborhood."

Brown said the overwhelming lack of evidence at the scene initially made him question whether the case could be solved. In most homicides there are witnesses, ballistics, etc., but in Lowe's death, there appeared to be little physical evidence, he said.

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The alley in which Lowe died is in the middle of a neighborhood populated by students attending the University of Kansas. Police knew school would soon be out and any suspect or suspects might be gone as well. LPD personnel jacked up and inspected every car in a two-block radius of the alley, Brown said.

"We had a whole city of cars and we didn't have a description of the vehicle," Brown recalled. "Our worry was that ... If somebody did see something in the area, if we didn't act fast we wouldn't find them. It was a difficult case and I was very impressed about our detectives' ability to solve it."

Police believed they had found the vehicle involved and questioned a suspect, but until forensic reports came back from the state lab, nothing could be done.

After the lab results were returned, the LPD forwarded them to the district attorney's office - two weeks ago - and requested a warrant be issued.

Rick Trapp, deputy district attorney, acknowledged the office had the reports, but said he was not at liberty to comment until a decision had been made on whether a warrant would be issued.

The Native American community in Lawrence has been watching closely, hoping to see an arrest. "Its about damn time," said Dave Cade of the P?lath? Community Resource Center. He wanted to know why the district attorney's office hasn't moved any faster on the case.

Soon after Lowe's death Indian people said they began to fear little would be done to find out who caused the death of a homeless Indian man. Now that the police have finished the investigation, all eyes are on the district attorney's office.