TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- The search continues in Topeka for the man who beat, shot and robbed the manager of a liquor store on the city's east side. Now, those closest to the victim are doing what they can to help catch his killer.
On December 24th, 2011 at 1:40 PM, officers were called to the Hudson Liquor Store located at 810 SE 15th Street.
Upon arrival, responders found the manager, 41-year-old Matthew Hill, dead behind the counter.
Police say the suspect struck Hill with a crow bar, shot him and then stole money from the cash register and a gift box of Jim Beam bourbon. Surveillance video released by police Monday shows the suspect staggering into the liquor store, even missing the handle to the front door. According to officials, he was intoxicated at the time of the murder.
The suspect is described as a white male in his 20s about 6 feet tall, slender build and wearing multi-colored pajama pants. He was last observed running south from the businesses. Witnesses stated that he stopped at least once to pull his pants up. Police belief he may live in the neighborhood in which he ran.
On Tuesday, Tommy Hendrickson, owner of Jayhawk Bail Bonds in Topeka and close personal friend of Matthew Hill, revealed that he is personally offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in connection with the brutal attack on the single father of three girls- age 17, 15 and 13.
"I personally have put out a $1000 reward for the capture of whoever is responsible for this tragic senseless act. The only thing I want to do is plead with the citizens of Shawnee County and the city of Topeka to come forward and turn this guy in because it could be you next," Hendrickson told 13 News.
"It hurts to see someone do this to my dad who did so much for everybody else. It hurts to know that someone so cruel would go and do that on Christmas Eve of all days. I want this man caught as soon as possible and you best believe that I will be in that courtroom. I will be in that room and watch that video and look him the eye and just ask why," added Hill's oldest daughter, Mandi.
In surveillance footage of the suspect stumbling into the liquor store, you can see Hill push the door open for the man that ended up taking his life. That’s led his friends and family to think his killer was a regular and thought Hill would recognize him if he let him live.
"He would never have turned his back on anybody he didn’t know. This guy has to be a regular for Matt to go and open the door for him. Matt didn’t open the door for just anybody. It is so important to catch this monster for somebody to do this to a family on Christmas Eve. These girls will never have a normal Christmas now ever again. That will probably be the best Christmas present these girls could get is if they could catch this guy," said Jude Michel, another close friend and neighbor of Matthew Hill.
"He must not have been worried about the gentleman because he turned his back on him and so I think it opened everybody’s eyes and I think now, that people are going to be more cautious," Hendrickson added.
"My dad opened the door twice for him. The guy stumbled off the curb the first time trying to catch the door and then my dad went and opened the door and held it open for him and then he went and did that to him. It hurts," Mandi Hill said.
Topeka detectives said Tuesday that they continue to follow up on leads in the case as they work to nail down the suspect's identity. They also released an enhanced image of the suspect captured by security cameras at the liquor store. They say the newly released photo shows the killer's face more clearly. The picture is included in the slide show portion of this story.
A fund has been set up for Matthew Hill's family at CoreFirst Bank. You can make donations at any branch to the Hill Girls' Trust Fund.
Mandi Hill says at her father's funeral, everyone plans to wear jeans and Kansas Jayhawks shirts because he was a huge fan. She says that's what her dad would have wanted at his funeral. A date for the services has not yet been set.
Anyone with information on Hill's murder is asked to immediately call Detective George Henley 368-9491 or the Watch Commander through the communications center at 368-9551.