On Dec. 13,
1974, Francis "Don" Nemechek shot out the tire
of a car traveling on Interstate Highway 70 west
of Hays. He then abducted the occupants of the
car, two women and a 2-year-old boy. He shot and
killed the women and left the boy, who wandered
away and froze to death.
On June 30, 1976, Nemechek
abducted and killed a 20-year-old Hays woman who
was riding a bicycle.
On Aug. 21, 1976, Nemechek
abducted a 16-year-old rangerette from Cedar
Bluff Reservoir in western Kansas and stabbed
her to death.
In February 1977, in a trial
held in Salina under a judge's change of venue
order, a jury found Nemechek guilty of first-degree
murder in all five deaths. He was sentenced to
five life prison terms. Twice the Kansas Parole
Board turned down Nemechek's attempts at parole.
Nemechek, who is now held in the Lansing
Correctional Facility, will be eligible again in
Francis Donald Nemechek
The Hays Daily News
Tuesday - February 8, 1977
of Francis Donald Nemechek, charged with the killings of four
women and a 3 year-old boy, was read into the record Tuesday
during the 2nd day of testimony at his trial in Saline County
Norton, a Kansas Bureau of Investigation Special Agent, told of
how the confession was obtained and then proceeded to read it.
Pruter said Nemechek, 26, Wakeeney, gave the confession October
7, 1976 during a conference at the Ellis County Law Enforcement
Center, in which Pruter, the defendant, both his attorneys and
the County Attorneys of Graham, Ellis, and Trego counties were
Initial testimony in the trial has concerned the death of Carla
Baker, 20, Hays. Former County Attorney Simon Roth, Jr., who is
serving as special prosecutor in the trial, asked Pruter to read
the portion of the confession concerning Miss Baker. Then, on
cross examination, Defense Attorney Robert Earnest, Russell, had
Pruter read the rest of the confession.
Nemechek's confession as read by Pruter related the following
On the day of the Baker killing, Nemechek drove to Hays,
depressed because he couldn't find any friends with whom to go
out. He said he passed a girl (Carla Baker) on a bicycle,
stopped his pickup truck and exposed himself to her, Nemechek
said the girl, rode by and said, "You stupid bastard, you think
you are funny?" The defendant said the girl's response angered
him and prompted him to grab her and push her into his truck. He
then drove her to the south side of Cedar Bluff Reservoir some
50 miles away.
he forced the girl to the back of his truck where they struggled.
Nemechek said he tore off some of the girl's clothes, intending
to rape her, whereupon the girl kicked him between the legs.
"When she kicked me, I told her she would not kick anyone else
again," Pruter quoted from Nemechek's confession. Nemechek
commented in the confession that his wife had once kicked him
between the legs and he retaliated by giving her two black eyes.
Nemechek said he went to the front of the truck and got a knife,
prompting Miss Baker to flee, The accused killer said he caught
"Miss Baker after she ran away and stabbed her.
At that point
in the testimony, Roth concluded his questioning and Attorney
Earnest cross examined Pruter, asking him to read the remaining
portion of the confession.
Pruter began with the portion concerning the Lovette-Young
killings. Pruter quoted the confession as saying that in
December, 1974, Nemechek was depressed because of a visitation
problem involving his child and ex-wife. He got in his pickup
and began to drive, the confession said.
Nemechek said he was driving on Interstate 70 when he came upon
a car with a flat tire. Nemechek said he stopped to help the
occupants of the car, later determined to be Cheryl Young, 21,
her son, Guy 3, and Diane Lovette, 19 all of Fort Madison, Iowa.
Nemechek said the shorter woman (Miss Lovette), "who reminded me
of my wife", declined his help and began to curse him. Miss
Lovette's cursing angered Nemechek, the confession said, and he
forced all three of the victims into his pickup at the point of
an unloaded shotgun.
"I decided to go out to the old place on the farm," Nemechek
said, referring to a farm southwest of Hill City, owned by Joe
Faulkner, where where he was employed at the time.
"I wanted to
teach them a lesson," he said in the confession, referring to
the cursing. At the house, Nemechek had the two women undress
and he raped Miss Lovette. When he had finished Mrs. Young
kicked him in the side. Nemechek then went to his truck, loaded
his shotgun, and returned to shoot each woman one time. He said
one of the women continued to curse him after being shot.
Nemechek went back to his truck, reloaded his shotgun, returned
upstairs and shot Mrs. Young a second time.
throughout the entire episode, Nemechek took no notice of the 3
year old boy, Guy Young, who was found frozen to death outside
the farmhouse a month later.
"When they found the bodies at the house, I was just as
surprised as Joe," Nemechek said in the confession.
Pruter then began reading the section of the confession
concerning Paula Fabrizius, 16, Ellis. Nemechek said he had gone
to the Cedar Bluff Reservoir looking for a friend. He stopped at
Miss Fabrizius' Rangerette station to ask directions. She
directed him to the boat ramp, but he returned when he failed to
find his friend there. Nemechek said he asked Miss Fabrizius for
a car permit, and after some discussion, he grabbed her and
pulled her into his truck.
Nemechek said Miss Fabrizius didn't fight him, but kept pleading
with him to let her go. Nemechek drove to a bluff in Gove County
overlooking Castle Rock where he raped her.
After the rape, Miss Fabrizius told Nemechek, "My dad will get
you for this." Nemechek said in the confession, "I got my knife
and pushed it into her." He then threw her body and her clothes
off the bluff.
One earlier witness at the trial Tuesday, Gary L. Dirks, Great
Bend, a Kansas Bureau of Investigation forensic chemist, told of
an examination he made of a carpet from the bed of Nemechek's
During questioning about the Baker killing, Dirks, said he found
Type A blood in the rug and estimated three fourths of a pint
had soaked into the rug. He also said he found on the rug a
piece of cloth matching a shirt Miss Baker was wearing the night
After reading the confession court was recessed. When the trial
was resumed, Graham County Sheriff Don Scott's testimony began
the case of the Lovette-Young murders, with former Graham County
Attorney Randall Weller, also acting as special prosecutor,
taking over the questioning.
Scott told of being summoned January 13, 1975, to the abandoned
farmhouse on Joe Faulkner's property where the body of Guy Young
had been discovered. The house he said, had not been lived in
since the 1930's.
Kansas man stalked and
killed four women and a small boy
Perched atop a bridge
over Interstate 70 in western Kansas, a sniper pointed
his rifle through the darkness toward a small car
He pulled the trigger.
The bullet punctured one of the car's
It was Dec. 13, 1974, as gunman
Francis Donald "Don" Nemechek climbed into his pickup
truck and turned on the engine.
He pulled to a stop near the stranded
motorists, two young women and a small boy.
Their lives were about to end.
Love and hate
Nemechek, then 24, was upset.
He had just argued with his former wife, Cindy,
about visitation rights with their young son,
The couple had divorced that
summer after a two-year marriage. A psychiatrist
would testify he thought Nemechek had a "love-hate"
relationship with his former wife and killed
other women because he couldn't get away with
Nemechek's victims on Dec.
13, 1974, would be three people he had never met:
Cheryl Young, 21, who was separated from her
husband; her 19-year-old friend, blond-haired
Diane Lovett; and Young's son, Guy Young, who
was 2 years and 10 months old. The three had
visited relatives in Colorado and were driving
to Iowa, where Lovett lived.
Nemechek shot out their tire
on I-70 near Ogallah, west of Hays. Authorities
aren't sure what happened next.
A history of the Kansas
Bureau of Investigation, published by that
agency in 1990, contends the women -- alone and
in the dead of night -- saw Nemechek approach,
got into their car, rolled up the windows and
refused help. But Nemechek went back to his
truck, got a shotgun, returned and forced them
to go with him to his truck. One woman carried
the child wrapped in a blanket.
Nemechek later would say in a
confession that he intended to help the stranded
motorists, but Lovett cursed at him. He said
Lovett's cursing, and the fact she was
relatively short, reminded him of his wife, so
he abducted the women at gunpoint.
Nemechek drove his victims to
a two-story stone farmhouse that had been vacant
for 35 years. The house was on a little-used,
dead-end road about 15 miles north of I-70. The
site is about 15 miles northeast of WaKeeney.
"It was a really, really
secluded area," Graham County Sheriff Don Scott
recalled recently, describing the route to the
building as more of a path than a road. Nemechek
had worked for the landowner.
Nemechek took the women up a
rickety staircase to the second floor, where he
raped one or both, then killed them with blasts
from his 12-gauge shotgun.
Guy Young was wearing slacks
and a light T-shirt, but no shoes or coat. The
KBI history says Nemechek ignored the child, who
crawled from the building and froze to death in
the cold night.
Scott said Nemechek admitted
to killing both women, but denied that a child
"He never, ever would admit
to taking the boy," Scott said. "It was just
like that was a blank part in his mind."
After blasting the women to
death with his 12-gauge, Nemechek felt he had
done something wrong. He even vomited.
But after that, he said, he "never
gave it much thought."
Scott, who has been Graham
County sheriff since 1973, felt little concern
when the car that carried Lovett and the Youngs
was found sitting with a flat tire along I-70.
Abandoned cars on that stretch of highway were
fairly common, and nothing about their car
A month later, on Jan. 13,
1975, trappers found Guy Young's frozen body
lying 10 to 15 feet from the abandoned farmhouse.
Scott found the bodies of Lovett and Cheryl
Young on the dimly lit second floor. Parts had
been eaten away by rodents.
The KBI helped local
authorities investigate without success.
Then, shortly before 1 a.m.
on Jan. 1, 1976, a man driving a pickup truck
with a topper started playing a vehicular game
of "cat and mouse" with four members of a Denver
family who were headed eastbound on I-70 east of
The driver of the pickup drove ahead,
stopped at I-70's Ogallah overpass and fired four .22-caliber
bullets at the moving car. One bullet hit a hubcap, two
struck the front driver's side door and another hit the
rear driver's side door, lodging in the back seat.
The car's occupants weren't hit. They
drove to Hays and reported the sniper attack, giving a
detailed description of the truck. Authorities
investigated and announced on Jan. 14, 1976, that they
had charged Nemechek with firing the shots.
Nemechek was jailed, then set free on
a $20,000 bond. His trial was set for September 1976.
Investigators found it curious that
the sniper attack occurred at nearly the same place
where Lovett and the Youngs disappeared. Though they
were unable to link Nemechek with the triple murder,
authorities would be keeping an eye on him.
Since his divorce, his father would
say, Nemechek had done little but work in a welding shop,
fish, drink beer and hunt coyotes.
Soon, however, he would kill again.
On the evening of June 30, 1976, 20-year-old
Carla Baker, of Hays, went for a bike ride. Baker was a
University of Kansas student at home visiting her
Nemechek said in a confession he was
outside his truck urinating alongside a country road
west of Hays when Baker rode in his direction and he
exposed himself to her. She scolded Nemechek, who
grabbed her from her bike and forced her into his truck.
Nemechek said he was unarmed as he drove Baker to an
isolated area at Cedar Bluff Reservoir and tried to rape
"She kicked me in between the legs,
so I went to get my knife," he said, recalling his wife
once kicked him between the legs: "When I put in the
blade, I remember calling her Cindy (his wife's name),
and I thought, 'You will never do that again.' "
Baker's father -- Dr. Richard Baker,
a professor of education at Fort Hays State College in
Hays -- found her bike early the next morning lying in
weeds alongside the country road. Her body remained
The next victim was 16-year-old Paula
Fabrizius. She was a cheerleader at Ellis High School in
Ellis, almost 20 miles east of WaKeeney and 20 miles
north of Cedar Bluff Reservoir.
Fabrizius worked part-time as a
rangerette at that reservoir, checking stickers on
vehicles. Rangerettes were supposed to work in pairs,
but a shortage of employees forced Fabrizius to work
alone on Saturday, Aug. 21, 1976.
At about 6:30 p.m. that day, a male
park ranger briefly left Fabrizius at her post on the
south side of the reservoir to get her some bubble gum.
Fabrizius was sitting in her car when Nemechek drove up
to talk. He later said in a confession that he "snapped,"
opened her car door, grabbed Fabrizius and pulled her
Nemechek took the girl in his truck
to a machine shed on land owned by his father near
historic Castle Rock, a sandstone formation that rises
high above the western Kansas plains at Quinter, almost
30 miles northwest of where she was abducted.
The shed was locked, so he took her
to an area near Castle Rock and raped her.
Afterward, Nemechek said, Fabrizius
insisted her dad would "get" him for what he had done,
then hit him with a rock. Nemechek stabbed her at least
eight times with a hunting knife, cutting her hands as
she sought to defend herself. The fatal wound pierced
her heart. An autopsy showed Fabrizius was stabbed in
the groin area after she died. Nemechek threw her nude
body off a 25-foot bluff.
That night, a group of people
searched the area at Cedar Bluff Reservoir trying to
find Fabrizius. One searcher was Nemechek. They didn't
The noose tightens
Fabrizius' body was found the next
morning. Among the dozens of pieces of evidence
collected at the scene was a warranty card for a
citizen's band radio.
KBI agents, who were already
suspicious of Nemechek, checked to see whether any of
the evidence linked him to the killing of Fabrizius.
They hit paydirt.
A thumbprint on the CB radio warranty
card was Nemechek's.
In addition, several people said they
had seen Nemechek's truck at the reservoir or on the way
to Castle Rock on the day Fabrizius died.
On Aug. 24, 1976, KBI agents
questioned Nemechek. He admitted he had talked with
Fabrizius the last day she was seen alive and that he
had bought a new CB radio that day. Nemechek was quickly
jailed in connection with the murder of Fabrizius.
"We knew we had the evidence we could
convict with, and we didn't want to take any chances
that he'd kill again," recalled Bob Clester, then a KBI
supervisor. The KBI history published in 1990 described
the Nemechek probe as one of the finest examples of
investigative and laboratory work in the bureau's
The following month, Carla Baker's
remains were found in a canyon on the south edge of
Cedar Bluff Reservoir. An autopsy was unable to
determine how she was killed.
Soon afterward, authorities learned
from a fellow county jail inmate that Nemechek had
admitted to killing Fabrizius, Baker, Lovett and Cheryl
In October 1976, Nemechek confessed
to investigators that he killed those women. He pleaded
innocent by reason of insanity when he went to trial in
February 1977 for the slayings of the four women and Guy
Though the murders were committed in
four different counties, the cases were combined. The
trial was moved to Salina on a change of venue order
after a judge ruled Nemechek couldn't get a fair trial
At trial, jurors heard conflicting
testimony from psychiatrists about whether Nemechek was
sane when he committed the murders.
A defense psychiatrist said Nemechek
liked to dress in women's clothing in his late teens and
seemed undecided about whether he rather would be a man
-- in a world where he felt he couldn't compete -- or a
woman. He said Nemechek became psychotic when the women
reacted to him negatively before he killed them.
A prosecution psychiatrist countered
Nemechek knew what he was doing and knew his actions
were wrong. He said he thought Nemechek lied to him
during testing in order to appear insane.
A special prosecutor challenged
statements from Nemechek's confession. He said Nemechek
admitted to a state psychologist that Lovett hadn't
cursed at him before he killed her, and contended
Nemechek already must have been carrying a knife when he
After nearly four hours of
deliberation, a jury found Nemechek guilty on all five
counts of first-degree murder. He was sentenced to five
life prison terms. In another confession soon afterward,
Nemechek told Scott and two other law enforcement
officers further details of the killings, admitting he
had shot out a tire of the car carrying Lovett and
Cheryl Young before killing them.
The following month, March 1977,
Nemechek insisted in media interviews that he had
changed. He said that after years of not accepting
religion, he had found God. Nemechek said his favorite
reading materials were the Bible and hot rod magazines.
He said he believed God meant for him to help other
"I can't even go out and shoot a
dog," he said. "The Don Nemechek who killed five people
Nemechek first became eligible for
release from prison in 1991. Kansas Parole Board members
decided to keep him behind bars and not consider him
again for the maximum possible period of three years.
In 1994, they did that again.
In 1996, Kathleen Fabrizius, sister-in-law
of Paula Fabrizius, was among people who testified
before the Legislature in favor of a law that would give
the parole board authority to refuse inmates parole and
not consider them again for 10 years.
The law passed.
When Nemechek became parole-eligible
again in 1997, Kathleen Fabrizius presented the parole
board petitions containing signatures of more than
15,000 people. Those people asked that Nemechek be
refused parole and not considered again for 10 years.
Signatures had been gathered from 38 states and two
foreign countries, though most were from Kansas.
Parole board members agreed not to
see Nemechek for another 10 years. Now 53 years old, he
is an inmate at Lansing Correctional Facility. He will
be parole-eligible in 2007.
M RACE: W TYPE: T MOTIVE: Sex.
Rape-slayer of females age 16-21; also killed three-year-old boy.
Five consecutiva life terms, 1977.