Citing in part community opposition to his release, the Kansas Prisoner Review Board denied parole Thursday for convicted murderer Francis Donald Nemechek.
Nemechek, a native of WaKeeney, was convicted in 1977 of killing four women and a boy in a two-year time period. This is the fifth time he was up for parole, and the third time the board has deferred his next parole hearing for 10 years. Nemechek, 66, is incarcerated at Lansing Correctional Facility.
Prior to 1997, consideration for parole came every three years. But that year, the state gave the review board authority to wait up to a decade before granting a parole hearing.
Family and friends of his victims presented more than 21,000 signatures from across the country opposing Nemechek’s release at the first of three public comment sessions in Derby in June. In addition, hundreds of people sent letters and emails opposing his release.
The board also cited as reasons for the deferment of his next hearing the serious and violent nature of his crimes to multiple victims, the lasting effect of the murders and Nemechek’s failure to demonstrate “behavioral insights necessary to decrease his risk to re-offend,” according to information from the Kansas Department of Corrections.
Nemechek was arrested in August 1976 after the body of Paula Fabrizius, a 16-year-old from Ellis, was found at Castle Rock. She had disappeared several days before from Cedar Bluff Reservoir, where she worked as a rangerette at the state park.
A dropped warranty card for a citizen’s band radio led police to Nemechek, who confessed to abducting and murdering the Ellis High School student. She had been raped and attacked with a knife.
He also confessed to four other killings that began two years earlier.
The bodies of Cheryl Young, 21, her son, Guy, 2, and a friend, Diane Lovette, 19, all of Fort Madison, Iowa, were discovered in January 1975 at an abandoned farmhouse in Graham County. Young’s car, with a flat tire, had been found about a month earlier on Interstate 70. Nemechek admitted he shot out the tire and then stopped to offer help. The women insulted him, he said, angering him, and he forced them into his truck with his shotgun. Lovette had been raped, and both women killed with the shotgun. The boy’s body was found outside the house. He had frozen to death.
• Carla Baker, a 20-year-old pharmacy student at the University of Kansas home for the summer, was abducted in June 1976 while riding her bicycle. The bike was found on 27th Street west of Hall Street. Nemechek attempted to rape her, but she fought back, and he stabbed her. Her remains were found nearly three months later at Cedar Bluff Reservoir.
Nemechek’s February 1977 trial was conducted in Saline County. After a week of testimony and evidence, he was found guilty of first-degree murder on all five counts. Kansas did not have the death penalty at the time, so he was sentenced to five consecutive life sentences, first becoming eligible for parole in 1991.