Police reassure worried Excelsior Springs parents after attack - KCTV5

Police reassure worried Excelsior Springs parents after attack

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EXCELSIOR SPRINGS, MO (KCTV) -

A middle-school boy is a person of interest in the brutal attack on a woman, and some Excelsior Springs parents have expressed fears about the boy continuing to attend classes.

Excelsior Springs Police Chief John McGovern told KCTV5 on Tuesday that he can assure worried parents that their children are not in danger, and points to how his own officers are sending their children to the school.

"At this point, he is a person of interest. He is not a suspect. We do not believe he presents a threat to any student or faculty member at the middle school," McGovern said. "We do have officers that have children who attend that school (and are still going to class). . .  We feel that is a safe environment at this point."

McGovern said police do not believe this was a random attack, but citing the ongoing investigation declined additional comment.

Earlier this month, the 43-year-old woman was attacked inside her home, and was repeatedly stabbed and suffered lacerations. She underwent surgery but has since been released from the hospital and is at home recovering.

She declined comment Wednesday.

Individuals in the area heard the woman's desperate screams for help, and authorities say their help could have saved the woman's life.

McGovern said no gun was used in the attack, but declined to say what weapon was used because of the ongoing nature of the investigation.

Neighbors described seeing police dogs track from the woman's home to the eighth-grade student's home. The victim's children attend Excelsior Springs schools, and some parents are upset because one of the victim's children is in the same grade as the person of interest.

"It's scary because he's back in school and I hope they just do something," said Tammy Peach, who has two daughters in the middle school and lives near the crime scene.

Other parents have shared with KCTV5 similar concerns.

KCTV5 is not identifying the person of interest because no charges have been filed. Authorities are still processing evidence as well as gathering evidence, and detectives have not presented the case to juvenile authorities.

McGovern said the juvenile has an attorney and is no longer speaking to investigators. The boy's mother has posted on Facebook that her son is innocent until proven guilty and has indicated he has a right to attend school. Family members have indicated to KCTV5 that the boy wasn't involved in the attack.

Excelsior Springs Superintendent John Lacy told KCTV5 that he has heard from concerned parents as rumors have spread throughout the small town. He said the school is safe for everyone, saying there is security, surveillance and adult supervision in place.

"There's a lot of emotion out there. There's a lot of people who've already made their mind up whether they think this person of interest is actually innocent or guilty," he said. "From the school's point of view, he is innocent until proven guilty. It's a law enforcement issue and not a school issue. And we want to keep it that way."

However, he did acknowledge that the high emotions have permeated the campus and district employees are dealing with that. He said counselors are available as needed.

"I try to reassure (parents) that their kids are probably safer at school with all our adults there and supervision," he said.

Because of DNA evidence that must be gathered and processed, the investigation will take several more weeks before a case is presented to prosecutors for charges. McGovern said Excelsior Springs police hope to have the Kansas City Police Department's crime lab process all the evidence.

"We are going to try to expedite it as much as we can," he said. "We don't have everything we need yet."

McGovern knows the crime has upset Excelsior Springs residents.

"It's a very rare occurrence in Excelsior Springs. Our officers are trained. We have to be prepared to handle these type of incidents regardless of how quiet and peaceful our town is," he said.

The police chief said officers are working the case tirelessly.

"It's going to take some time. It is just as important to us to make sure we have the right person and to make sure we are able to prosecute that person to the fullest extent of the process," he said.

Excelsior Springs Capt. Clint Reno said television shows like CSI have given a distorted view of how investigations work.

"(Society) thinks crimes can be solved in an hour and that's not the case," he said.

If you have any information, call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS.

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