A red Pontiac pulled out of the Kansas River early Friday afternoon is likely linked to a triple homicide earlier this month,Topeka police said.
“I haven’t confirmed 100 percent that it is but I have no reason to doubt that it’s not,” said Lt. John Sturgeon. Later on Friday, police spokesperson Amy McCarter confirmed that the vehicle was the same one authorities have been searching forin connection to the March 12 murders of Matthew Leavitt, 19, Nicole Fisher, 38, and Luke Davis, 20, all of Topeka.
Topeka police said after the homicides that they were searching for a red 2006 Pontiac G6 in connection with the crimes.
Crime scene investigators and several law enforcement agencies responded to the Seward boat ramp Friday morning after Sturgeon said after police received a tip there were stolen cars in the river east of Topeka.
“We occasionally find stolen cars in the river,” he said, “so acting on those tips, detectives came out this morning and we’ve recovered two cars so far. We believe there to be more in the river.”
A black Honda Civic which Sturgeon confirmed was stolen was the first vehicle to be pulled from the water while a Nissan Sentra was the third. Shawnee County Sheriff’s Det. Ryan Myers said the Sentra hadn’t been reported as stolen. It had appeared to have been in the river for quite some time.
In addition to the Topeka Police Department, Shawnee County sheriff’s deputies and dive teams from the Shawnee Heights and Mission fire departments were at the scene.
Capt. Eric Deneault of the law enforcement division of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, said Topeka police asked for the department’s sonor equipment to search the Kansas River for any potential stolen vehicles.
“It gives us a picture of what’s on the bottom of the lake,” Deneault said. “Usually we can get a pretty good idea of what’s down there.”
The water that the dive teams were working in Friday, he said, was likely 10 to 12 feet deep.
“Most of our stuff we do is from the boat,” Deneault said. “We do the locating and then we rely on the dive teams to go out and actually locate the object once we’ve marked it on our unit.”
Contact reporter Angela Deines at (785) 295-1143 or follow her on Twitter @AngelaDeines.