Teen’s Body Found Near Halstead
The body of a Newton teen-ager was found at 11:30 a.m. Monday at a secluded location on the shore of the Little Arkansas River about 2 miles northwest of Halstead, said Harvey County Sheriff Galen Morford. Morford identified the body as that of Juan Leonard Guerra, about 16 years old. Morford said the body was discovered by a fisherman as he and his wife were looking for a place to fish. Officials are treating it as a homicide. (The Salina Journal, Salina, Kansas. Wednesday, February 25, 1987. Page 8).
Newton Man’s Bond Set At $1 Million
A district judge set bond at $1 million Thursday for John E. Gilley, who was charged Thursday with first-degree murder in the gunshot slaying of a 15-year-old Newton boy. Arrested at his Newton residence at 5 a.m. Thursday, 27-year-old Gilley is being held in the Harvey County Jail pending his preliminary hearing, set for 1:30 p.m. March 6. It is alleged that Gilley shot Juan Guerra, 15, in the chest and let him to die at a secluded location on the bank of the Little Arkansas River about 2 miles northwest of Halstead. Guerra’s body was found Monday morning by a fisherman. He was last seen alive Sunday night. Gilley’s arrest capped three days of intensive investigation by the Harvey County Sheriff’s Department, the Newton Police Department and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. Sheriff Galen Morford said his investigator, Byron Motter, interviewed an 18-year-old Newton man late Wednesday and learned that the man was present when Guerra was killed. Motter and other investigators used information supplied by the 18-year-old to obtain search warrants for two Newton businesses and two residents. The last residence they searched was Gilley’s house. By the time they got to his house, they also had a warrant for his arrest. Harvey County District Court Judge Richard Walker, who set bond for Gilley, said he ordered it at $1 million “due to the serious nature of the offense, considering that someone is not likely to remain available for trial.” Walker said he would listen to a motion to reduce the bond if Gilley’s legal counsel later offered such a motion, and would decide at that time whether to reduce it. Morford said it was likely that the 18-year-old will be charged in connection with the murder case. The man is now in protective custody at the county jail, the sheriff said. Morford said investigators found drugs at Gilley’s residence, but it is not known whether the murder was drug-related. Guerra was killed with a .25-caliber pistol. Investigators have not recovered the murder weapon, the sheriff said. It has been established that Guerra was shot at the location where his body was found, he said. At a news conference Thursday, sheriff’s detective Motter said it appeared Guerra, the 18-year-old suspect and Gilley all allegedly were involved in a recent string of burglaries at Newton businesses and residences. He said no clear motive had been established in Guerra’s death. Friends of Guerra said he was a friendly boy, but had a personality that sometimes rubbed people the wrong way. They said he pulled a nife on a boy last week during a fight outside a downtown Newton recreation hall managed by Gilley. Guerra, whose family came to the United States as political refugees from Cuba in 1980, was last seen alive Sunday night when his brother dropped him off in front of a Newton restaurant. (By Alan Montgomery for the Hutchinson News, Hutchinson, Kansas. Friday, February 27, 1987. Page 2).
2 Arrested in Boy’s Murder
Authorities looked for a murder weapon Friday after two men were arrested in the death of a Newton boy. John E. Gilley Jr., 27, of Newton, was charged with first-degree murder Thursday. An 18-year-old man in custody was expected to be charged later. Juan Carlos Guerra, 16, was found dead Monday along the banks of the Little Arkansas River northwest of Halstead. Authorities said he had been shot once in the chest with a small-caliber weapon. A falling out between members of a burglary ring may have led to the shooting, authorities said. (The Salina Journal, Salina, Kansas. Saturday, February 28, 1987. Page 22).
Newton Man Charged
An 18-year-old Newton’s man, arrested during this week’s murder investigation there, was charged with 13 criminals offenses. The man, Derek J. Madsen, was charged with eight counts of burglary, five counts felony theft, and one count of attempted theft. He had a court appearance Friday, then was returned to the county jail. His bond was set at $25,000, according to a spokesman for the Harvey County Sheriff’s Department. Madsen was arrested late Wednesday after being interviewed by officers who were investigating the murder of 15-year-old Juan Guerra, Newton, whose body was found Monday morning on the bank of the Little Arkansas River northwest of Halstead. Information supplied by Madsen led investigators to John E. Gilley, 27, Newton, who was arrested at his home early Thursday and charged with first-degree murder in Guerra’s death. Gilley is being held in the county jail in lieu of $1 million bond. His preliminary hearing was scheduled for March 6 at 1:30 p.m. Authorities suspect that Madsen, Gilley, and Guerra all were involved in a recent string of burglaries at Newton businesses and residences. Madsen told authorities he was present when Guerra was shot to death. (The Hutchinson News, Hutchinson, Kansas. Saturday, February 28, 1987. Page 20).
Sentencing Scheduled in Newton Murder Trial
Sentencing for John E. Gilley, 27, has been set for 9 a.m. July 1 in Harvey County District Court. Gilley, of Newton, was found guilty of second-degree murder after a plea negotiation that ended in a court hearing Friday. Gilley originally was charged with first-degree murder in the execution-style slaying of 16-year-old Juan Carlos Guerra. The shooting occurred Feb. 22 along the Arkansas River just northwest of Halstead. Investigators learned that Gilley lured Guerra to the site by telling the youth that he needed help to commit a burglary in the area. Derek Madsen, 18, Newton, played a part in the incident. Madsen now is serving a 5- to 20-year prison sentence for conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. Gilley could receive a sentence from 15 years to life in prison for his crime, a court spokesman said. (The Hutchinson News, Hutchinson, Kansas. Wednesday, June 3, 1987. Page 10).
John Emery Gilley was born June 6, 1959. He was sentenced for 2nd Degree Murder in 1987 and lived in Lansing Prison until moved to Oregon in 1988. He was paroled in 2002 and released from parole in 2014. He was in prison a total of 14 years for the murder of Juan Guerra.
Derek John Madsen was born December 20, 1968. He was sentenced on April 23, 1987 for conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and theft. By March of 1991 he was on work release, until he was paroled on December 26, 1995 after serving 8 years. He was released from parole on June 5, 1997.
(c) Excerpted from the book, Deadly Encounters: Murder in Harvey County, Kansas by Darren McMannis. Used by permission.