WESTWOOD, Kan. – A 40-year-old man is facing charges in connection to the killing of David “Ray” Ninemire 17 years ago in Westwood.
Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe announced Thursday that Eugene Keltner faces charges of first-degree murder in connection to the city’s first and only recorded homicide since being incorporated in 1949.
“This has been the result of a very long investigation being conducted by a number of agencies,” Howe said Thursday at a news conference.
Howe said Keltner is currently at Lansing Correctional Facility and will be transported back to Johnson County to face the new charges.
“We met with the family yesterday, Mr. Ninemire was a hero,” said Johnson County Sheriff Calvin Hayden. “He was a hero in the neighborhood, he was a hero to his family. To see the closure and understand that this thing was over, it was pretty moving.”
The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office took the lead on the case with assistance from the Westwood Police and other Metro police departments, until the case went cold.
It warmed up again after Sheriff Hayden had an idea. Bring back the best of the best to take a fresh look at cold cases. Tom Robinson, Joe Langer and Lew Hoskins, all retired metro officers stepped up and stepped into this investigation.
“I was a cop for over 30 years, about 35, and I missed it,” said Lew Hoskins, a retired Major at The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office. “When the Sheriff called and said, ‘Would you mind helping us out?’ Oh, boy, you know, I’d love to.”
Partnering with current Johnson County investigators, everyone is on the team is a fresh set of eyes.
“Working with with these new kids on the street new cops “it’s a different thing but enjoyable for us,” Hoskins said. “And we’re looking forward to another one someday.”
In fact, a similar group is now working on another cold case and there are more to come. All to put bad guys away and bring families peace Justice delayed, never forgotten.
“Just because it’s called a cold case. It is never cold,” Hayden said. “So don’t ever lose hope. Don’t ever lose hope because we’re working on it.”
Seventeen years ago, officials say after a man dressed as Abe Lincoln shot and killed an employee at a grocery store in Westwood.
Investigators say Keltner shot and killed David “Ray” Ninemire on August 15, 2003.
The deadly shooting happened around 6 a.m., that day during an armed robbery at the Westwood Apple Market off of Mission Road. Ninemire was working as a produce clerk at the store.
Keltner allegedly shot him in the leg, hitting an artery, and Ninemire died less than a minute later.
According to authorities, Ninemire was coming to the assistance of another employee who was being accosted by the robber when he was shot. While he was exiting the store through the front door, Keltner shot and wounded another person who was walking in to the store.
His bond has been set at $1 million.
Other than to say it was good old fashioned police work, law enforcement could not release many details about what led them to Keltner. FOX4 has requested additional court documents and will continue to report the latest on this story.