TOPEKA, Kan. - Sam Berquam was waiting for a detective in the Topeka Police Department lobby Wednesday afternoon after learning one of his co-workers, Deon Ross, is accused of murdering another of his co-workers, Alheli Alcantara.
"Everybody up there was all friends, joked around," said Berquam of the atmosphere at Burger King, 2817 SE California Ave., Topeka, where all three worked. "Deon was the biggest joker of them all, kidding around with everybody."
Berquam said he worked with Alcantara and Ross the night of October 11th until 10p.m. That was the last night she was seen alive. Her body was found at 7:20a.m. Sunday outside a Quality Inn in Manhattan. "I asked her (Alcantara) when we were leaving that night if she had any plans and she said no, that she was going home," Berquam said.
He didn't think Ross had plans either. "He was just going to go home as far as I know. He had a girl at his house waiting for him."
Berquam said Ross was a "flirt". "He showed interest to any girl that walked in there," he said. "He even tried hitting on my sister-in-law one night and she's pregnant with another guy's kid."
Berquam has been working at the Burger King for one month. He said hearing about Alcantara's death and then that Ross is a suspect were shocking. "I just really don't see Deon as the type. I don't."
Ross was questioned again by authorities in Topeka Wednesday afternoon. The decision has been made to transfer him from Topeka to Pottawatomie County.
"At this point, we don't have an exact location of where the homicide occurred," said Sgt. Lance Feyh of the Topeka Police Department. "We don't know if it occurred in Topeka, in Pottawatomie County or somewhere in between here and there."
Because of jurisdictional concerns and until authorities pinpoint exactly where Alcantara was murdered, they'll use the fact that her body was found in Manhattan as a legal safety net to prosecute Ross in Pottawatomie County.
"Where the body was located will have jurisdiction over the prosecution, even if it is determined at a later time that it occurred somewhere in the city of Topeka or en route to Pottawatomie County, they will still handle the jurisdiction on that," said Sgt. Feyh.
In the meantime, the Alcantara family is making funeral plans in Manhattan while those who knew Alheli continue to mourn and try to recover from the shock of such a sudden loss. "Everybody's upset and broken up about it," said Berquam. "She was a good girl. She had her head on her shoulders and knew what she wanted."
Pottawatomie County Attorney Sherri Schuck said Ross' bond is set at $2 million cash or commercial. If he can't make bond, Schuck said he'll likely go before a court for a first appearance Thursday or Friday. At that time he'll be advices of the charge against him - First Degree Murder - and he can then hire an attorney or request one be appointed to him.