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Two sentenced in 2013 death of a Chanute woman - KOAM TV 7

Two sentenced in 2013 death of a Chanute woman

Cristy Thomas-Wiles Cristy Thomas-Wiles
Brian Shields Brian Shields
Michelle Voorhees Michelle Voorhees
Updated February 27, 2014:  Two people are sentenced for their roles in the 2013 death of a southeast Kansas woman.

The case involves a fire set at a Chanute home in January 2013.  As authorities cleared the site a week later they found the body of Cristy Wiles, who had died of smoke inhalation.

A judge has sentenced Brian Shields to life in prison on a felony murder charge for starting that fire.  His sentence includes the possibility of parole after 20 years.

Michelle Voorhees is sentenced to 23 years and 8 months in prison on charges of second degree murder, aggravated arson and aggravated burglary.

Both suspects plead no contest to the charges last month.



Updated April 16, 2013 at 5:15 PM CST:  A Chanute, Kansas murder suspect is involved in a high speed chase, loses control of his vehicle, and is now in serious condition in a St. Joseph, Missouri hospital.

Sgt. Sheldon Lyon of the Missouri Highway Patrol says authorities from Leavenworth, Kansas tried to make a traffic stop on the suspect and a pursuit began.  Just outside of St. Joseph, Missouri, police put out spike strips and the suspect swerved the SUV he was driving to avoid the strips.  The SUV rolled and ejected the driver.  A female passenger was wearing her seatbelt and was not ejected, but also sustained injuries.

Sgt. Lyon says both individuals were seriously injured and taken by ambulance to Heartland Regional Medical Center in St. Joseph.

The Chanute Police Chief confirms murder suspect Brian Shields is in custody.

In February, a body was found among the remains of a Chanute home that had burnt down a week earlier.  Authorities began a search for Shields and Michelle Voorhees, 21, for aggravated arson and the first degree murder of Cristy Wiles.  Voorhees was arrested a few days after Wiles was found dead.

A preliminary hearing for Voorhees has been set for April 26.

Shields is expected to be indicted by federal authorities with felony murder and could be charged with additional charges.

Updated April 16, 2013 at 4:25 PM CST:  Neosho County District Attorney Linus A. Thuston informed the mother of Cristy Wiles today while a KOAM reporter was at the home that authorities have captured Chanute murder suspect Brian Shields.

According to Thuston, authorities received a tip from somebody in Texas that Shields was in the Leavenworth, Kansas area.  Following a stakeout Shields was flushed out of a home in the area.  Shields and another person ran out and a high speed chase ensued.  Police put out spike strips and when Shields' vehicle hit them he was ejected from the car.  He has since been taken to an area hospital, where St. Joseph, Missouri police have him in custody.

In February, a body was found among the remains of a Chanute home that had burnt down a week earlier.  Authorities began a search for Shields and Michelle Voorhees, 21, for aggravated arson and the first degree murder of Cristy Wiles.  Voorhees was arrested a few days after Wiles was found dead.

Law enforcement have interviewed over 140 people in the investigation.

A preliminary hearing for Voorhees has been set for April 26 at 9:30 a.m. in Chanute.  She is expected to be formally charged with felony murder.

Shields is expected to be indicted by federal authorities with felony murder and could be charged with additional charges.

Again, the Chanute Police Chief has confirmed that Brian Shields is in custody.

CORRECTION: We initially reported that the KOAM reporter learned of today's events while at the Neosho County Clerk's Office, when in fact she was at the home of the murdered victim's mother.

Updated April 16, 2013 at 3:56 PM CST:  The Chief of Chanute Police confirms Brian Shields has been taken into custody.  We'll post more information as soon as it becomes available.

Updated March 8, 2013 at 4:10 PM CST:  A raid in Iola, Kansas was prompted by suspicion that a murder suspect was at the location.  But authorities say Brian Shields, 26, was not at the location.

In February a body was found among the remains of a Chanute, Kansas home that had burnt down a week earlier. Authorities began a search for Shields and Michelle Voorhees, 21, for aggravated arson and the first degree murder of Cristy Wiles.  Voorhees was arrested a few days after Wiles was found dead.

On Friday the search for Shields led investigators to a home on East Street in Iola.  Due to the seriousness of the charges against Shields, the Kansas Highway Patrol Special Response Team was requested.

During the search Shields was not located.

Police say if you have any information about Brian Shields to contact the Chanute Police Department at 620-431-5768.

Updated February 17, 2013 at 7:35 PM CST:  Authorities in Chanute say one of two murder and arson suspects has been captured.

Officers confirm Michelle Voorhees,21, has been arrested.

She and Brian Shields, 26, are wanted for the killing of Cristy Wiles.

Updated February 14, 2013 at 12:25 PM CST:  Investigators are now offering a $1,000 reward to the first person who can lead authorities to the two suspects wanted for murder in Chanute, Kansas.

Brian Shields, 26, and Michelle Voorhees, 21, are considered armed and dangerous and should not be approached.

They are wanted in the first degree murder and aggravated arson investigation at a home at 212 North Lafayette in Chanute.  Last week a body was found among the remains of the charred home.

The body was later identified as that of Cristy Wiles, who had earlier been reported missing.

Updated February 13, 2013 at 1:00 PM CST - Statement from the City of Chanute:

Brian Shields and Michelle Voorhees are now considered suspects of Aggravated Arson and First Degree (Felony) murder. The public is asked to not make contact with Shields and Voorhees as they are considered to be armed and potentially dangerous. Investigators are pursuing, local, regional, and national notification alerts for the apprehension and arrest of Shields and Voorhees. Local information can be reported to the Chanute Police Department at (620) 431-5768

The Chanute Police Department's Major Case Squad in conjunction with investigators from the Kansas State Fire Marshal's Office, Neosho County Sheriff, and Chanute Fire Department submitted case information to Neosho County Attorney Linus Thuston and his Office pertaining to the aggravated arson and death investigation at 221 N. Lafayette, Chanute, KS.

# # #

Updated February 11, 2013 at 12:30 PM CST:  Authorities in Southeast Kansas identify two people who they want to question for a recent murder.

The Chanute, Kansas police need your help finding a man and a woman who may have played a role in a house fire and homicide nearly two weeks ago.

Brian Shields, 26, and Michelle Voorhees, 26, are wanted for questioning.

Authorities warn they could be dangerous and not to approach them, but rather call police.

Last Wednesday a charred body was discovered at the scene of a week-old house fire in Chanute.

The body was later identified as missing person Cristy Wiles.

On Friday authorities announced the fire investigation had turned to aggravated arson and first degree murder.

Updated February 8, 2013 at 5:23 PM CST:  Authorities have confirmed that the victim of a fire in Chanute is Cristy K. Wiles.

Police say the fire is being investigated as Aggravated Arson and First Degree Murder.

However, no other details are being provided at this time due to the ongoing investigation.

Updated February 8, 2013 at 12:25 PM CST:  Police say they have identified the person found at the scene of a house fire last week in Chanute, Kansas.

Authorities say a fire investigation is now a murder investigation.

On Wednesday a body was discovered in the debris from a fire that happened at a home at 212 Lafayette Avenue last week.

An autopsy is underway and police say they now know who the victim is, however, until family is notified they are not officially releasing the name.

Investigators are treating the fire and death as aggravated arson and first degree murder.

Yesterday, the Chanute Police Department released a photo of Cristy Thomas-Wiles as a missing person.  But investigators are not saying if her disappearance is related to the body they discovered.

Updated February 7, 2013 at 5:15 PM CST:  As Chanute authorities are trying to identify a body found in a week-old fire investigators are asking for help in finding a missing person.

Cristy Thomas-Wiles is the missing person but investigators are not saying if this is related to the body found in the fire.

Yesterday authorities said they found a body in the debris from a fire that happened at this home on 221 Lafayette Avenue last week.

Investigators aren't saying much about this case but the cause of that fire is still under investigation.

Authorities say they have transported the body for an autopsy and police are asking for information as to who the person might be.

Posted February 6, 2013 at 5:25 PM CST:  Chanute police have found a body at the scene of a fire that occurred last week.

The fire happened at 221 Lafayette Avenue in Chanute.

The cause of that fire is still under investigation and the identity of the individual is currently unknown.

Authorities say the body will be transported for an autopsy and police are requesting information as to who the person might be.

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