Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Daniel Remeta: On the Road to Destruction

The Hitchhiker

The day before Valentine's Day 1985, the killers crossed into Kansas, apparently on their way to Colorado, where Remeta had relatives. On I-135 north of Wichita, the group picked up a hitchhiker, James C. Hunter Jr., a Missouri roofer who was looking for a ride back to his home in Amoret, Missouri, after a trip to Texas. Walter was driving at the time, Dunn was seated in the middle of the front seat and Remeta was seated next to her.

James C. Hunter Jr.
James C. Hunter Jr.

With Hunter in the backseat, the group continued north. Somewhere along the 250-mile trip from Wichita to the tiny off-ramp community of Grainfield in central Kansas, Remeta showed Hunter the pair of handguns he was carrying. Testimony later revealed that the .22 had apparently jammed and was inoperable, and Remeta gave it to the hitchhiker to repair — which Hunter did. James Hunter told authorities later that he  asked to be dropped off at the Intersection of I-135 and I-70, which was consistent with his claim that he was attempting to hitch home to Missouri.

Instead, Remeta refused to let him leave and began talking about a previous hitchhiker the group had picked up and how much he regretted not taking advantage of the opportunity to kill that rider. As if to punctuate his statement, Remeta fired three rounds from the .22 pistol out the window as Walter drove through the Kansas fields.

To further intimidate Hunter, as they pulled into Salina, Remeta pulled some .357 shells from his pocket and asked Hunter if he thought the shells would be powerful enough to kill him if he shot Hunter with the Magnum.

Shortly after 2 p.m., the group pulled off I-70 at the Grainfield exit and drove into the gravel parking lot of the Stuckey's Restaurant. A popular spot for students on their way home from the nearby high school, the restaurant was empty except for manager Larry McFarland. 

Remeta and at least one other person entered Stuckey's, and when McFarland handed over the $170 in the till, Remeta shot him to death.

The killers fled the scene, but not before someone noticed the red-and-blue car with Michigan plates leaving the restaurant. That witness, a high-school student stopping off for a snack before heading home, discovered McFarland's body and called police.

 

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