TOPEKA — After nearly 11 years on parole, a man convicted of a 1980 Topeka double murder violated conditions of his parole supervision last month and was returned to prison.
El Dorado Correctional Facility inmate Tony A. Hobbs, 55, will meet later this month with the Kansas Prisoner Review Board, which will decide whether to keep him in custody or parole him again, Kansas Department of Corrections spokesman Adam Pfannenstiel confirmed Wednesday.
Relatives of Hobbs’ victims asked Wednesday for people to join them in asking the state to deny Hobbs’ parole.
Hobbs and Michael E. Simmons murdered 4-year-old Brandon Crook and his mother, 28-year-old Karen Crook, on Jan. 22, 1980, in their Topeka home.
Hobbs and Simmons were ranked 38th and 39th, respectively, on a list of Shawnee County’s most notorious criminals published in a June 2012 CJOnline slideshow.
Karen Crook was twice divorced and living with Brandon, whose father is Roger Crook, and 7-year-old Travis Magner, a son from a previous marriage. Roger Crook, who had remarried, on the day before Brandon’s murder had become the father of a baby girl, Jamie Crook.
Karen Crook knew Simmons and Hobbs, and voluntarily let Hobbs into her home. Police said the men intended only to rob Crook, and took $1, but one of them raped her, too.
The men then used an electrical cord to strangle Karen Crook before stabbing her. They drowned Brandon by holding his head under water.
Hobbs told police he used a pillow to try to smother Travis to death, tried to strangle Travis with Hobbs’ belt, then stabbed the boy in the chest with a butcher knife. The killers turned on the gas burners on the house’s stove and blew out the pilot light before leaving, hoping to cause a fire and explosion.
Travis lost consciousness but awoke the next morning and walked to Avondale East Elementary School with his collie dog at his heels. Under police guard at a Topeka hospital, he identified one of the killers from a photo lineup.Hobbs was given a life sentence for first-degree murder and 15 years to life for second-degree murder to run at the same time. Simmons received two life sentences to run at the same time for first-degree murder.
Now 54, Simmons is an inmate at Lansing Correctional Facility and will next be parole-eligible in January 2020.
After being denied parole in 1997 — when relatives of their victims asked the state not to parole Simmons and Hobbs — Hobbs sent a letter of apology to The Topeka Capital-Journal. He wrote that he accepted responsibility for his actions and wanted to apologize to everyone he had hurt.
Hobbs was released on parole from Hutchinson Correctional Facility in September 2004. He was considered for early discharge from parole in 2012 but that request was denied.
State corrections records show Hobbs remained on parole until last month, when he was booked into El Dorado Correctional Facility for violating conditions of his parole.
Jamie Crook said Wednesday that she, Roger Crook and Travis Magner oppose Hobbs’ parole and encourage people who feel the same way to contact the prisoner review board.
Pfannentstiel said that while that board isn’t holding any hearings to accept comments about Hobbs’ potential parole, anyone with a concern about any issue may email that board firstname.lastname@example.org.