JUNCTION CITY, Kan. (WIBW) - Junction City officials say with the help of state and federal agencies, they've solved a 2010 murder case involving a young mother and in the process, brought down a major drug ring.
When 25-year-old Crystal Fisher was murdered in March of 2010, there were few clues and no witnesses. Fisher was found shot to death in her car in the 700 block of West 11th Street in Junction City. WIBW's archives show that Fisher's car was still running when she was found. Detectives were able, however, to uncover one fact that ended up blowing the lid off of what officials are calling a criminal enterprise.
"Information developed during the investigation revealed that Miss Fisher may have been killed by a drug distribution ring operating in the Junction City, Manhattan area," explained Junction City Police Chief Tim Brown, during a press conference at the Junction City Police Department. Chief Brown was joined by Geary County Attorney Steve Opat and U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom as developments in the case were made public. Fisher's family members and friends were in the audience.
The Drug Operations Group, made up of detectives from the Junction City Police Department, Grandview Plaza Police Department and Geary County Sheriff's Office, were asked to start investigating the alleged drug ring and murder. They later formed a task force, with members of state and federal agencies.
"Various investigative tools were initiated to include inquisitional subpoenas, surveillance techniques, controlled purchases of cocaine and search warrants. As the case developed, the Drug Enforcement Administration adopted it," Chief Brown said.
According to the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Kansas, eight people were indicted on federal drug charges. The indictment was unsealed Monday in U.S. District Court in Topeka. A press release names the following:
*Jamaica L. Chism, 29, one count of conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine and one count of conspiracy to distribute powder cocaine.
*Alisha A. Escobedo, 20, Junction City, Kan., one count of conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine and one count of conspiracy to distribute powder cocaine.
*Megan N. Fuller, 23, Junction City, Kan., one count of conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine and one count of conspiracy to distribute powder cocaine.
*Kennin Dewberry, 31, Junction City, Kan., one count of conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine and one count of conspiracy to distribute powder cocaine.
*Caress Jackson, 25, Junction City, Kan., one count of conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine and one count of conspiracy to distribute powder cocaine.
*Keishana Johnson, 26, Junction City, Kan., one count of conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine and one count of conspiracy to distribute powder cocaine.
Marcus Roberson, 29, and Virok Webb, 34, are charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine and one count of conspiracy to distribute powder cocaine.
The indictment alleges all the defendants were part of a drug trafficking conspiracy that operated in Geary County from Nov. 7, 2008, until April 1, 2011.
U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom revealed that Marcus Roberson and Virok Webb are also charged in Fisher's murder.
"The indictment alleges that Wade and Roberson planned and carried out Miss Fisher’s murder to keep her from assisting law enforcement and telling law enforcement officers about the knowledge she had concerning the alleged drug trafficking operation that they were running. The indictment also alleges that both of these defendants were members of a drug trafficking conspiracy that operated here in Geary County that operated here in Geary County from November 7, 2008 to April 1, 2011. The indictment alleges that Webb and Roberson killed Miss Fisher after substantial planning and premeditation," Grissom said.
"It was while the Drug Enforcement Administration, DEA, was investigating the drug case that evidence was developed to show that Miss Fisher was murdered to prevent her from coming forward and cooperating with law enforcement to the facts that she knew concerning this drug trafficking enterprise. Therefore, the alleged murder is a federal crime because it was committed in order to prevent a witness from coming forward and providing information about a federal drug trafficking offense that was being investigated," he added.
Grissom declined to say what lead to Roberson and Webb's arrest and how the victim, Crystal Fisher, allegedly knew about the drug operation.
"As to each one of those drug counts, you’re looking at potentially, a minimum of a 10 year sentence in a federal prison and there is no probation in the federal system. You’re also looking at, as to the murder charge, it could be life imprisonment and/or the death penalty but at this point in time there has not been a decision made as to which one of those two that we’ll be pursuing," Grissom revealed.
"I’m feeling relief that they finally arrested somebody. It’s been a while. She’s got two little boys that miss her very much. I’m just glad they finally got somebody. She’s very missed," said Mary Jaime, Crystal Fisher's mother. Mary Jaime says her daughter was in school at the time of her death, training to become a beautician. Fisher's sons are now 3 and 10. Fisher's relatives say she was robbed of a life with her two boys because she was trying to do the right thing.
When officials were asked if the arrests in the case had an impact on the local drug trade, Barry Grissom responded: "I think we made a pretty good dent. You never want to say it’s all over because it’s an ongoing process and a lot of times, as everyone well knows, in criminal activity, you move one group of folks and just like water seeking its own level, other folks come in but I can assure you that the chief and everyone in his office are being vigilant to see if anybody is trying to come in. At this point in time, we don’t have any information that that’s happening."
He told the audience that Roberson and Webb are in federal custody and were arraigned Monday.
Also assisting the Junction City Police Department and Drug Enforcement Administration in the investigation were the Grandview Plaza Police Department, the Riley County Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, and the U.S. Army Criminal Investigations Command at Ft. Riley, the Dickinson County Drug Enforcement Unit, the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, and the Park City Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jared Maag and First Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Warner are prosecuting.