Feb 11, 2020 10:35 PM

KBI assisting in suspicious death investigation after home explosion, fire

Posted Feb 11, 2020 10:35 PM
Scene of the fatal home explosion and fire photo courtesy WIBW TV
Scene of the fatal home explosion and fire photo courtesy WIBW TV

MARSHALL COUNTY– The Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI), the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office, and the Office of the State Fire Marshal are investigating after a Vermillion man was found dead in his home following an explosion and fire.

On Jan. 24, at approximatley 7:15 a.m., several 911 calls were received reporting an explosion and fire at 301 5th St. in Vermillion, Kan. Emergency crews responded and once the fire was extinguised, they searched the home and located the homeowner, 83-year-old Donald E. McLaughlin, deceased inside.

An autopsy was performed and an investigation into the fire and McLaughlin’s death began. The Marshall County Sheriff’s Office requested KBI assistance on Friday, Feb. 7, when circumstances surrounding McLaughlin’s death appeared suspicious.

Authorities do not believe a threat exists to the public related to this incident. The investigation is ongoing.

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Feb 11, 2020 10:35 PM
Ex-Kan. prison lab instructor wants sex crime conviction thrown out
Tomas Co photo Texas County

TOPEKA, KAN. (AP) — A former prison dental instructor who was found guilty earlier this month of one count of unlawful sexual relations with an inmate is asking a judge to throw out the conviction.

Tomas Co was convicted on one charge and found not guilty of five other charges alleging he abused female inmates working in the dental lab at the Topeka Correctional Facility.

The conviction was for a woman who said Co touched the inside of her knee and thigh.

In a motion filed Friday, Co's attorney, Chris Joseph, argued that type of touching doesn’t constitute “lewd” touching under state law. The motion also asks Shawnee County District Court Judge Cheryl Rios to acquit Co based on insufficient evidence, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

Joseph said he also plans to seek probation for Co, rather than the 31 to 136 months of prison time he is facing.

District Attorney Mike Kagay said his office would file arguments in response to the defense motion.

Inmates in the dental lab complained for five years about alleged sexual harassment and unwanted touching by Co, who was dismissed in December 2018.