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Crime and Courts

Suspect Now Charged With Capital Murder - Victim in Park Attack Near WSU Has Died

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Sedgwick County Correctional Facility
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UPDATE 11-28-14

A date has been set for a benefit to help aid the children of Letitia "Tish" Davis. It will take place at Kirby's Beer Store on Sunday, December 7. The event will include a live auction, bands, food trucks and more.

UPDATE 11-26-14-

(AP)  A man accused of raping and setting a Kansas woman on fire at a Wichita park was charged Wednesday in the death of the mother of four.

The amended charges against Cornell McNeal, 26, of Wichita, include one count of capital murder or an alternative count of first-degree murder in the death of Letitia "Tish" Davis, said Sedgwick County District Attorney's Office spokesman Dan Dillon.

Before Davis' death Saturday, McNeal was charged with attempted capital murder, rape and arson in the Nov. 14 attack.

Firefighters were responding to a late-night grass fire when they found Davis, 36. Police have said McNeal was linked to the attack by forensic evidence obtained after Davis was taken to a hospital suffering from burns on more than half her body and cuts on her head. Authorities have said investigators believe she was attacked following a "random encounter."

McNeal is being held on a $1.25 million bond in Sedgwick County. His attorney, Mark Rudy, declined to comment.

Dillon said District Attorney Mark Bennett hasn't decided whether to seek the death penalty.

UPDATE 11-24-14-

An autopsy has begun on a Kansas woman who died this weekend, days after she was sexually assaulted and set on fire in a Wichita park, a county official said Monday.

Sedgwick County spokeswoman Brittany Clampitt said coroner's office officials were investigating, but it wasn't clear when the examination would be complete. 

Family members held a memorial for Letitia "Tish" Davis on Sunday evening in Wichita's Fairmount Park, where she was found Nov. 14 with burns on more than half her body and cuts on her head. Cornell McNeal has been jailed and charged with attempted murder and rape. He doesn't yet have a lawyer, according to court records and the Sedgwick County Public Defender's office.             

District attorney's office spokeswoman Georgia Cole said Monday that prosecutors would determine "what charges are appropriate based on new evidence," which would include the results of the autopsy.                       

UPDATE 11-22-14-

Police confirm that the victim of last Friday's attack in Fairmount Park died on Saturday morning. Her family was with her.

UPDATE 11-21-14-

Prosecutors have filed attempted capital murder charges against Cornell A. McNeal, a Wichita man accused of raping a woman and setting her on fire at a public park.

Bond was set Friday at $250,000 during McNeal's first court appearance on charges stemming from the Nov. 14 attack. The 26-year-old man also was charged with rape and arson after allegedly setting fires at the park and at a garage on that same day.

The Sedgwick County Public Defender's Office says it has not yet assigned him a lawyer, and a woman who answered the phone at his house declined to comment.

Firefighters were responding to a late-night grass fire at Fairmount Park when they found the 36-year-old victim with severe burns on more than half her body.

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A suspect has been arrested on charges of attempted first-degree murder and rape stemming from an attack last week near the campus of Wichita State University. The Wichita Police Department announced this morning that they believe the incident was a random encounter.

Authorities say a 26-year-old male was taken into custody on Wednesday afternoon after being linked to forensic evidence obtained from the victim, a 36-year-old woman who was found enveloped in flames at Fairmount Park. She remains in critical condition at Via Christi St. Francis Hospital.

“This tragic and horrendous incident not only affected the victim, but also the Fairmount Park neighborhood, Wichita State University and the entire Wichita community,” Interim Police Chief Nelson Mosley says.

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Credit Sean Sandefur
Interim Wichita Police Chief Nelson Mosley addresses the media on Thursday November 20, 2014

The Wichita Police Department received several tips from community members, according to Mosley.

Wichita State University issued a release, thanking investigators for their work and stating they will do anything they can to make their campus and adjacent neighborhoods as safe as possible.

“Immediately report crimes or suspicious activity to 9-1-1. There are also more than 20 emergency call boxes strategically located on campus and residence hall grounds that instantly connect to the University Police Department dispatcher. Those on campus who want a safety escort should call University Police at 978-3450,” the statement reads.

The suspect is being held at the Sedgwick County Correctional Facility.