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'A tragic situation across the board'

Staff writer

A daughter of a Marion man who Kansas Bureau of Investigation says fatally shot himself while police were searching his home says she had warned police her father was suicidal and kept weapons at home.

Marion police were investigating Charles Park, 65, on suspicion of raping a child younger than age 14, court records indicate.

Park shot himself in the head April 10 while interim police chief Duane McCarty and sheriff’s deputy Aaron Christner searched Park’s home at 341 S. 4th St.

Neither McCarty nor Christner have returned to work since Park’s death. Both reportedly have been on paid administrative leave or vacation.

“It’s a tragic situation across the board,” one of Park’s daughters, Casey Taylor, said.

McCarty declined Monday to answer questions sent to him by email, writing “until the county attorney is done with this case, I can’t release any info.”

A few minutes later, he emailed the Record to add “I’ve had a lot of support.”

The Record has filed requests under the Kansas Open Records Act for body camera footage of the search at Park’s home and for any text messages or emails exchanged between McCarty and Park’s family.

The newspaper was able to confirm why police were investigating Park by obtaining a copy of a search warrant and its return, both filed in district court.

Meanwhile, Park’s family is struggling.

Taylor remembers a kind man who never had much but always tried to help people when he could.

“I’m not going to answer the question,” Taylor said when asked whether she thought her father had raped a child. “I think it’s a small town, and sexual assault cases are hard.”

What she did want to talk about was that her family told police, she said, about Park’s mental health.

“I made reports to three entities that I can think of about my concerns about his mental health,” daughter Casey Taylor said. “That included the police department.”

Park, a loner who “always felt like a turd in a punch bowl,” had struggled with depression his entire life, Taylor said.

“It came in waves,” she said.

His mental wellness challenges were “present beforehand but obviously escalated because of the investigation,” Taylor said.

“That was the second time they’d been to his property. After the first time is when they were made aware that they needed to be cautious and that his mental health was not good.”

Taylor said she had told McCarty that there were four or five weapons in the home.

“When the house was released back to us after they removed his body, I walked into the house and saw a loaded shotgun on the dryer just inside the back door,” she said. “There were two more openly displayed in his bedroom and a third openly displayed in the living room.”

None of those were the shotgun he used to kill himself, Taylor said.

The KBI said in a news release that “during the search and interview, Park reached for a shotgun that was hidden inside the house. He then shot himself in front of the officers.”

Deputy coroner Larry Larsen wrote in a death report filed April 11 that Park “was being arrested” by McCarty and Christner. Several sources have said that information was inaccurate and that officers merely were executing a search warrant that Judge Susan Robson had signed April 6 after she found probable cause. The warrant specified that officers were to get photos of both sides of Park’s hands and a sofa in the living room, with and without a cover on it. They also were authorized to seize a dark or navy blue blanket and a cushion from a blue couch.

“It was not an arrest warrant,” Taylor said. “It was a felony search warrant, and they were aware of the risks.”

Park worked as a mechanic for Marion County’s road and bridge department from September 1996 to April 2008.

A check of court records indicated that Park had no criminal record — not even a speeding ticket. Neither a KBI offender website nor a U.S. Department of Justice national sex offender website listed Park.

Park struggled in social situations, Taylor said. He wore his hair long and loved music, she said.

“He didn’t cause any riffraff in the community,” she said. “He genuinely was a helper for everybody. He had nothing to give but still tried to give anyone a hand.”

Park attempted to get help for his depression, Taylor said. He went to a Wichita hospital, she said, and waited two hours to be seen with 21 people ahead of him.

He left.

He reached out to a crisis line the weekend before his death, she said.

Taylor said she found a suicide note ripped up in a trash can from an earlier attempt.

“He had a notecard on the table for a Prairie View intake on April 24,” Taylor said.

His depression was “well-controlled” for several years, she said.

Park was on disability, she said.

Investigators interviewed Taylor the day her father died, she said.

“They called me, and I went down to talk to the KBI,” she said.

An investigator “wanted to know who knew he was a threat to himself,” she said. “Duane McCarty specifically personally knew.”

A KBI spokesman did not return a phone call or email Tuesday asking for comment about Park’s family’s claims.

Taylor said she told officers about her father’s suicide ideation because “I would never want them to carry that for the rest of their lives.”

“My dad was always pretty matter-of-fact about who he was,” Taylor said. “I worry that people have this horrible image of him and won’t remember the good things that he has done. He was a 65-year-old man who most generally tried to do the right thing.”

Taylor was at work in McPherson, she said, when she received a text asking, “Is your Dad OK?”

Taylor responded “Why?” “There’s police and an ambulance at your dad’s house,” came the answer.

“The first thing I did was text Duane because I knew he was involved,” she said. “I asked, ‘Is my dad OK? Is everybody OK?’

“And I never got a response.”

AND OBITUARIES

Charles Park

A memorial service for Charles “Skip” Sivert Park, who died April 10, will be 2 p.m. Saturday at Marion Lake Hall at Marion County Park and Lake. 

He was born May 27, 1957, in Wichita, the son of Harold and Bea (Holden) Park. 

Skip spent his life working as a mechanic, including for Marion County. After leaving the county, he worked independently as a mechanic. 

Skip married Jane Piccinino on April 25, 1985. They raised four daughters. 

Survivors include his daughters, Karen Nickel (Kacey) of Tampa; daughter Theresa Gonzalez of Conway, Arkansas; Amy Park of Peabody; and Casey (Park) Taylor of Florence; brother Gary Park (Jana) of Wichita; brother Darrell Park (Linda) of Bel Aire; sister Marla Park of Newton; 15 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Last modified April 20, 2023

 

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