Thursday, October 21, 2010

Joel Thomas and Michael Dear added to list of suspects in Michael Tutera murder

Posted By on Thu, Oct 21, 2010 at 8:00 AM

Joel Thomas, a new suspect in the Tutera murder.
  • Joel Thomas, a new suspect in the Tutera murder.

Joel Thomas, a new suspect in the Tutera murder.
Idiocy draws a crowd.

Jackson County Prosecutor Jim Kanatzar announced on Wednesday that two additional men have been charged with second-degree murder in connection with the death of Michael Tutera.

Tutera was found dead in the garage of his Sunset Drive home in May, the victim of a botched robbery. Police say the killers made off with a small amount of cash, with the triggerman receiving an extra $20 for his efforts.

The new charges against Joel Thomas, 19, and Michael Dear, 20, bring to five the number of people who have been implicated in Tutera's death.

Authorities believe that Matthew Hendrix, an 18-year-old University of Missouri-Kansas City student, was one of the "masterminds" of the operation. In their narrative, Hendrix called around, looking for people to help him rob Tutera's house. The crew met at Loose Park. From there, Hendrix, Dear and another individual left and cased Tutera's residence.

Tutera was at home at the time. He called police at 5:16 p.m. to report that he had discovered Hendrix in his house and that he had gotten him to leave.

Though they had been spotted, Hendrix and Co. returned later in the evening. The most recent probable cause statements allege that Hendrix, Troy Davis and an unidentified male walked up to the house. Shots were fired. Hendrix, Davis and the unidentified man came running out the house toward the vehicle.

Michael Tutera
  • Michael Tutera

Michael Tutera
Hendrix and Davis were charged shortly after Tutera's body was discovered. Joseph Hendrix, Matthew's 16-year-old brother, was charged in August. Authorities say the younger Hendrix divided the contents of Tutera's wallet once the crew returned to Loose Park. Each man received $40, with Matthew Hendrix getting an extra $20.

Dear, police say, went up to the house after the shots were fired, saw Tutera lying on the ground and looked for items to steal. Thomas allegedly agreed to participate in the robbery and helped dispose of shoes and a shirt that Matthew Hendrix had worn.

An earlier probable cause statement described Tutera as the Hendrix brothers' godfather. "I can't validate that," Kanatzar said on Wednesday. Kanatzar said he had never seen a case with facts as "strange" (read: stupid) as this one. The investigation continues.

Tutera's family owns Central Bank of Kansas City and nursing homes. At the time of his death, Tutera was suing members of his family over the distribution of bank assets.

[Updated: Matthew Hendrix was misidentified as "Michael" in the first reference in the original post.]

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