The Wichita Horror
At the age of 23, six foot tall, blonde-haired and blue-eyed Andrew Schreiber had reason to be pleased with his life. He had always been an outdoors type so his job as assistant baseball coach at
On the chilly night of
He was at a Kum & Go convenience store when two young black men approached him and brandished a gun. They ordered him into his own car. As his heart hammered, the men told him to drive to various ATMs where they forced him to withdraw $800. Later Schreiber said, "I was just hoping if I did what they said, they'd let me live."
They did. The assailants released him in a field, physically unharmed but badly shaken. They shot out the tires of his vehicle, then jumped in another car and sped away.
Schreiber had no way of knowing that he was the first victim in a crime spree of escalating violence that would culminate in a night of grotesque violence aptly called the "Wichita Horror."
The next victim of that crime spree was fair-skinned, bespectacled, and red-haired Ann Walenta. A youthful-looking 55-year-old, she was a cellist and librarian with the Wichita Symphony Orchestra. As orchestra librarian, she was responsible for ordering and keeping track of its music.
Classical music was the great love of Walenta's life, coming just after her husband and two grown children. It was a love she enjoyed bringing to others, which was one reason she had worked for a group that taught classical music to young black people.
Walenta and her husband lived in a comfortable single-story dwelling in a quiet, upscale neighborhood, the kind people move to hoping to avoid crime. At about on the cold, dry night of December 11, she returned home after a rehearsal with the Wichita Symphony Orchestra and parked her sport-utility vehicle in front of her house.
A man approached her. "I need some help," he said. Then he pulled a gun and ordered, "Don't move the car!"
The panicked woman started to drive away but gunfire shattered the glass of the car window and ripped through her body. Severely wounded but still conscious, she pressed her car's horn. Its incessant blare drew the attention of a neighbor who called 911.
Walenta survived for several days. She recovered consciousness and spoke with police from her hospital bed before dying of her injuries. While she was still clinging to life, her murderers would commit an even greater outrage.
It was snowing on the night of
H.G. looked forward to a pleasant evening with close friends and a night with the man she loved. That man was bespectacled and handsome Jason Befort, 26, who taught science at
Befort shared a triplex with two other young men, Brad Heyka, 27, and Aaron Sander, 29. Heyka worked for petroleum and chemical conglomerate Koch Industries, where he was a valued employee thought to have a bright future. The chubby man with the winning smile and lively sense of humor had earned three promotions in as many years.
Sander was a slender, fresh-faced man who looked younger than his years. A devout Roman Catholic, he had recently quit Koch because he felt called to the priesthood.
H.G. arrived at her beau's
First Heather Muller, 25, then Befort, joined the group. Muller was a pretty woman who wore her light brown hair in a pageboy and attended graduate school at
Befort was in love with H. G. and wanted to marry her but had not yet worked up the nerve to "pop the question." He had recently bought an engagement ring for her and, at the same time, purchased a book on how to propose.
The five friends watched TV, ate dinner, and made conversation before heading off to their various beds.
Befort and H.G. were snuggling together under the sheets when the porch light suddenly came on. "Don't tell me I have to get up and turn off the light again," Befort said irritably.
H.G. heard Sander talking with someone. The voices were muffled so she assumed he was chatting with Muller. H.G. turned to look at the digital clock and could not make it out completely because her boyfriend's head was in the way but saw that it was sometime after
The bedroom was in semi-darkness when its door burst open. Befort screamed.
A tall black male pointing a gun stood in the doorway. He came into the room and tore the covers off the bed in which H.G. and Jason were lying. Then a second black man, also armed with a gun, led Sander into the room. Since the room was cloaked in darkness, it was hard for H.G. to physically differentiate between the intruders except to see that the second man was not as tall or thickly built as the first. The shorter man shoved Sander onto the bed.
Little Nikki growled and bared her teeth.
"Grab your dog," one of the invaders said, "or we'll shoot her."
"Who else is here?" the other man demanded. The terrified victims told of Heyka and Muller. One of the attackers headed down the stairs while the other guarded H.G., Befort, and Sander.
Clad in a white undershirt and a pair of boxers, Heyka was brought up into the bedroom. The intruder then left, retrieved a fully clothed Muller and brought her to the room.
"Get undressed!" an intruder ordered.