Former Columbia Water & Light director in custody on suspicion of three slayings

Sunday, November 29, 2009 | 4:04 p.m. CST; updated 6:54 p.m. CST, Sunday, November 29, 2009
This home near Burlingame, Kan., was the scene of a triple homicide Saturday afternoon. A 12-hour manhunt ended Sunday with the arrest of James Kraig Kahler, 46, the former director of Columbia Water and Light.

Updated: 6:06 p.m.

BURLINGAME, Kan. — A former director of Columbia Water and Light who was asked to resign in September after he was charged with assaulting his wife is suspected of killing her and two of their children in eastern Kansas.


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The Kansas Attorney General's Office said in a news release Sunday that 46-year-old James "Kraig" Kahler is being held on suspicion of three counts of capital murder. The victims were identified as his estranged wife, 44-year-old Karen Kahler, and his daughters, 18-year-old Emily Kahler and 16-year-old Lauren Kahler.

He also is being held on suspicion of attempted first-degree murder in the shooting of Karen Kahler's grandmother, Dorothy Wight.

A 12-hour manhunt ended Sunday with the arrest of Kahler. Kahler was arrested about 7:30 a.m. Sunday morning, said Ashley Anstaett, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Attorney General's Office.

Kansas authorities had been looking for Kahler since Saturday night and warned that he could be armed and dangerous.

Kahler was scheduled for trial Wednesday in Columbia on a domestic assault charge that stemmed from an altercation with his wife in March.

The attorney in that case, Rusty Antel, said the couple was divorcing and his client had moved from Columbia to the Topeka area.

The shooting was reported about 6 p.m. Saturday in Osage County, about 35 miles south of Topeka, which is in Shawnee County.

A Shawnee County deputy spotted a man and vehicle matching the shooter's description about 40 minutes later, Shawnee County Sheriff's Deputy Brad Jones said. The man drove onto a private drive and fled on foot into a wooded area, he said.

Kahler was arrested nearly 12 hours later.

LeeAnn Smiley, a neighbor, said Dorothy Wight was the long-time owner of the house where the shooting happened. Wight had had people visiting her for the holidays, Smiley said. Smiley said she had gone to buy groceries and wasn't home when the shooting happened.


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Charles Dudley Jr November 29, 2009 | 7:12 p.m.

Another link to this story:

Prayers to the surviving family member and the family. So tragic.

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