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November 28, 2013

$5M bail set for suspect in four deaths

PARSONS, Kan. — The man suspected in the deaths of a southeast Kansas woman and her three children and arrested after a massive manhunt was being held Wednesday on $5 million bail.

Labette District Judge Robert Fleming signed an order that gives prosecutors until Dec. 10 to file charges against David Cornell Bennett Jr., 22, of Cherryvale, who was arrested late Tuesday. It was unclear whether Bennett has an attorney.

Bennett is being held in connection to the killings of 29-year-old Cami Umbarger and her children.

Bennett, who has not been formally charged, was captured shortly after 9 p.m. Tuesday in Independence while walking and talking on his cellphone to a friend who alerted authorities to his whereabouts, Independence Police Chief Harry Smith said Wednesday. It ended the search that began Monday when Umbarger, of Parsons, was first reported missing.

Their bodies were found late Monday night in Parsons,. Details about how the victims were killed or their relationship to Bennett have not been released.

However, Umbarger’s cousin, Tara Umbarger, of Fredonia, said Wednesday that Cami Umbarger had met Bennett around the end of September and went out with him a couple of times.

She said he began calling her repeatedly, at times making threats.

“He was basically stalking her and wouldn’t leave her alone,” Tara Umbarger said. “She was trying to get away. He wasn’t leaving her alone.”

But Cami Umbarger never filed a complaint with police and was the type of person who probably thought he wasn’t serious, her cousin said.

Tara Umbarger described her slain cousin as a “very good mom” who loved her kids and worked hard.

“I don’t want (people) to remember this bad thing,” Tara Umbarger said of the killings. “It wasn’t that she was a bad person — she just somehow ... got mixed up with him somehow.”

More than 100 law enforcement officers, canine search teams and an aircraft from numerous agencies were involved in the search for the suspect, Smith said.

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