PARSONS, Kan. — A man suspected in the deaths of a young mother and her three children is being held on $5 million bail after police captured him walking outside in frigid temperatures and wearing sodden clothes in a southeastern Kansas city.
David Cornell Bennett Jr., 22, was arrested in Independence late Tuesday, city Police Chief Harry Smith said.
Bennett, 22, has not been formally charged in the killings of 29-year-old Cami Umbarger and her children, 9-year-old Hollie Betts, 6-year-old Jaxon Betts and 4-year-old Averie Betts. The bodies of Umbarger and her children were discovered Monday night at their home in Parsons, about 35 miles from Independence.
Authorities have not released details of how the victims were killed, who discovered them, or the family’s relationship to Bennett.
However Tara Umbarger, the victim’s cousin, said Cami Umbarger met Bennett in September and that they had dated a few times. But she said when Cami Umbarger tried to break off the relationship, Bennett refused to let go.
“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.”
She said Cami Umbarger never filed a complaint to police.
More than 100 law enforcement officers from various agencies, plus dogs and an aircraft were involved in the search for the suspect after the bodies of Umbarger and her children were found. Smith, the police chief, said the search soon focused on Independence, some 110 miles southeast of Wichita, where Bennett works at a roofing firm.
Officers were alerted to Bennett’s whereabouts by a friend who was speaking with him on his cellphone. When they arrested Bennett at gunpoint around 9 p.m. Tuesday, his clothes were soaking wet and frozen with the temperature at 18 degrees.
Labette District Judge Robert Fleming signed an order Wednesday that gives prosecutors until Dec. 10 to file charges against Bennett, of Cherryvale. It was unclear whether he has an attorney. The Labette County Jail declined to make him available for comment.
The Kansas attorney general’s office said in a news release that it would handle any criminal prosecution at the request of the Labette County attorney.
Cami Umbarger was a licensed practical nurse who worked at the Good Samaritan Society, a nursing home in Parsons. A candlelight vigil was held Wednesday night in Parsons.
Tara Umbarger described her slain cousin as a “very good mom” who loved her kids and worked hard for them.
“I don’t want (people) to remember this bad thing,” she said.