Fugitive arrested in southeast Kansas, attempted murder charge
Whitaker faces several felony charges
WOODSON COUNTY, Kan. – After an overnight air and foot search, a man on the run from several felony charges in southeast Kansas is now behind bars.
Benjamin Whitaker, 20, of Independence, Kansas, is suspected of trying to steal an ATM in Parsons and also charged in connection to shootings in Coffeyville and Independence, Kansas. He was behind bars, but after a 6-hour leave for a funeral in December, he didn’t return.
During the late night and early morning (Jan. 20 – 21, 2021), multiple agencies searched the Yates Center area for Whitaker. Agencies involved included the Yates Center Police Department, Woodson County Sheriff’s Office, Allen County Sheriff’s Office, Iola Police Department, Coffey County Sheriff’s Office, Greenwood County Sheriff’s Office, Woodson County Emergency Management and the Kansas Highway Patrol. The Woodson County Sheriff’s Facebook page states they found and arrested him and added, “A special thanks goes out to these agencies for their assistance and the observant residents of Yates Center.”
Criminal Cases and History
PARSONS, Kan. (Labette County) – On Jan. 20, 2021 around 5:05 a.m., Parsons Police officers were called to the 3100 block of Main for a report of a truck with an ATM tied to it. Officers got there and found a 2003 Ford F350 pickup that had an ATM chained to it near Labette Bank, 3129 Main.
Authorities say the truck had been stolen from Independence, Kansas on January 19, 2021. Inside the truck, they found one of two weapons that were also reported stolen. They recovered the AR-15, but didn’t find the Glock.
The Police Department identified Benjamin Whitaker as a person of interest in the vehicle and ATM theft. They found that Whitaker was already listed as a fugitive, as an escapee from Montgomery County after being released on furlough.
Whitaker was furloughed on Dec. 17, 2020, while being held for drug charges in connection to a homicide investigation in Independence, Kansas. A judge approved it so Whitaker could attend his grandmother’s funeral, according to court documents. He failed to return to jail after his 6-hour leave.
He was also wanted for attempted murder in Coffeyville, Kansas.
While looking for Whitaker, the Parsons Police Department received several tips about suspicious persons and circumstance. They followed up, contacted people and searched structures. Parsons Police Chief Robert Spinks said, “We appreciate the community embracing ‘See It, Hear It, Report It.'”
Authorities also contacted the FBI and the Kansas Bureau of Investigations (KBI) to help in the case.
COFFEYVILLE, Kan. – On Jan. 15, 2021, the Coffeyville Police Department identified Whitaker as a suspect in a shooting.
At 1:48 a.m. on Jan. 14, 2021, a police officer on patrol in the area of 4th and Maple saw a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed going north on Maple.
The Police Department states the vehicle fled from the officer. Near the intersection of New and Elm, the occupants fled from the vehicle. Authorities later learned the vehicle had been reported stolen out of Independence.
As officers searched for the men, the police department got a call from an alleged victim saying they had been shot at by the occupants of the vehicle that had just fled from officers.
Police found one of the suspects, Zachary Pule, 28 of Coffeyville, and arrested him for attempted murder.
The second person of interest was Benjamin Whitaker. Police got a warrant for his arrest.
LABETTER COUNTY, Kan. – In February of 2020, Whitaker and another suspect led authorities on a police chase in a stolen car.
The chase started on a rural road about four miles west of Parsons, Kansas where a stolen car passed a deputy at well over 100 mph. After an 11 mile chase, the car wrecked and two men got out and ran.
Officers caught the men. One of the suspects was Benjamin Whitaker who had been wanted on parole. Authorities arrested both men for possession of a stolen vehicle.
INDEPENDENCE, Kan. – In December 2019, Police say Whitaker was the target of a shooting in Montgomery County. 19-year-old Kimberly D. Meeks was with Whitaker when they were shot at. Meeks died. Read more:
- 19-year old woman killed in drive by shooting in Montgomery County
- Man arrested in fatal drive-by shooting of a 19-year-old in southeast Kansas
- Murder charge filed against man in fatal drive-by shooting in southeast Kansas
Whitaker has a further criminal history involving theft and drugs.