The Wichita Massacre, also known as The Wichita Horror, was a murder, assault, rape, and robbery spree perpetrated by brothers Reginald and Jonathan Carr against several people in the city of Wichita, Kansas in December 2000. The Carrs killed five people and a dog. A sixth victim, a woman known as HG, survived a gunshot wound to the head. The crimes shocked Wichitans, and purchases of guns, locks, and home security systems subsequently skyrocketed in the city. The brothers were tried, convicted and sentenced to death in October 2002. Although it appeared that a 2004 decision by the Kansas Supreme Court overturning the state death penalty law was going to spare the Carrs, the decision was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld the death penalty law and returned the Carrs and other condemned killers to death row. The attacks, along with the reemergence of serial killer Dennis Rader and the murder of the Clutter Family in the 1950s and the Dayton Street Murders in 1974, rank as the worst crimes in the history of Kansas.
The Carr brothers, 22-year-old Reginald and 20-year-old Jonathan, already had lengthy criminal records when they began their spree. On December 8, 2000, having recently arrived in Wichita, they committed armed robbery against 23-year-old assistant baseball coach, Andrew Schreiber. Three days later, they shot and mortally wounded 55-year-old cellist and librarian, Ann Walenta, as she tried to escape from them in her car; she died three days later.
Their crime spree culminated on December 14, when they invaded a home and subjected five young men and women to robbery, sexual abuse, and murder. The brothers broke into a house chosen nearly at random where Brad Heyka, Heather Muller, Aaron Sander, Jason Befort and his girlfriend, a young woman identified as 'H.G.', all in their twenties, were spending the night. They initially scoured the house for valuables. In a much-remarked point of tragedy, H.G. learned of Befort's intent to propose marriage when the Carrs, by chance, discovered the engagement ring hidden in a can of popcorn. After the search, the Carrs forced their hostages to strip naked, bound and detained them, and subjected them to various forms of sexual humiliation, including rape and oral sex. They also forced the men to engage in sexual acts with the women, and the women with each other. They then drove the victims to ATMs to empty their bank accounts, before finally taking them to a snowy deserted soccer complex on the outskirts of town and shooting them execution-style in the backs of their heads, leaving them for dead. The Carr brothers then drove Befort's truck over the bodies.
They returned to the house to ransack it for more valuables, and in the process killed Nikki, H.G.'s muzzled dog. H.G. survived because her metal barrette deflected the bullet, and ran naked for more than a mile in freezing weather to report the attack and seek medical attention.
The Carr brothers, who took few precautions, were captured by the police the next day, and Reginald was identified by Schreiber and the dying Walenta. The District Attorney stated that the Carrs' motive was robbery.
Since there was reportedly no prima facie evidence of racial motivation, only that the victims were white and the Carr brothers are black, Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston decided not to treat the incident as a hate crime. Media commentators David Horowitz, Michelle Malkin, and Thomas Sowell all stated that the crime did not garner much airtime or space in the national mainstream media due to political correctness. Sowell went on to claim that the media has a double standard regarding interracial offenses, tending to play up "vicious crimes by whites against blacks" but play down equally "vicious crimes by blacks against whites".
Despite the accusations of limited news coverage of the incident, The Wichita Eagle commented that four young black people who were murdered only eight days before the "Wichita Massacre" by another young black man, received even less media coverage. Speculation has been raised that this may have been due to the race of the victims. One relative questioned "How could one be any worse than the other, if the results were the same?"
Muller was a pre-school teacher at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School. Every year the school awards a deserving 8th grade student the Heather Muller Love of Faith Award in her memory.
With the help of HG's testimony, the brothers were convicted of nearly all 113 counts against them and were both given the death penalty.
On July 25, 2014, the Kansas Supreme Court announced it has overturned the death sentences. In overturning their death sentences, the six justice-majority said they did so because the trial judge failed to separate the penalty proceedings against them. According to a release from the Kansas Supreme Court public information officer, the court unanimously reversed three of each defendant’s four capital convictions because jury instructions on sex-crime-based capital murder were “fatally erroneous and three of the multiple-homicide capital murder charges duplicated the first.”
- Prosecutors Downplay Racial Element in Kansas Murder Trial by Jim Burns, CNSNews.com Senior Staff Writer, October 10, 2002
- The Wichita Horror, the brutal murders by Jonathan and Reginald Carr: The Heartbreak of a City by Denise Noe, Court TV's Crime Library
- 05/Nov/2002 CJOnline.com "Carr brothers found guilty"
- 16/Oct/2002 AIM Report: The Wichita Massacre
- Downplay Racial Element in Kansas Murder Trial by Jim Burns, CNSNews.com Senior Staff Writer, October 10, 2002
- Black Racism: The Hate Crime That Dare Not Speak Its Name by David Horowitz, FrontPage Magazine, July 16, 2002
- Winona and the Wichita massacre By Michelle Malkin, Townhall.com, Friday, November 8, 2002
- Sylvester, Ron (December 7, 2010). "Victims in 2000 quadruple homicide aren't forgotten". The Wichita Eagle. Retrieved July 10, 2011.
- "8th grade Awards". st.thomas aquinas catholic school. Retrieved July 28, 2014.
- "High Court overturns death penalty sentences for Carr brothers - Upholds conviction, Topeka Capital Journal, Sherman Smith, July 25, 2014. Retrieved 25 July 2014.
- Extensive account of the crimes by Court TV's Crime Library
- 'Wichita Massacre' Brothers Sentenced to Death
- Kansas v. Marsh decision by United States Supreme Court
- KAKE-TV news story on Wichita Horror survivors engagement to be married
- Was this Kansas killing spree a brotherly affair?, CNN and CourtTV
- Kansas v. Jonathan Carr decision by Kansas Supreme Court