By Melissa Scheffler
KWCH 12 Eyewitness News
8:37 PM CST, November 11, 2012
(GREAT BEND, Kan.)
The days surrounding September 4, 2002 are fogging for Kathye Phelps.
"You're mind just shuts down,” Kathye said.
It's not that it has been a decade since her close friend was murdered. Kathye says blocking-out some of the memories is just how she copes with the horrific details.
"It's not real. You can't fathom, any of this,” Kathye said.
Most people in Great Bend can't. On that night, ten years ago, a delivery driver unlocked the back door of the Dolly Madison Bakery. When he walked inside, he saw Kathye's friend, 24-year-old Mandi Alexander. And 79-year-old Mary Drake. They were both in the bakery... covered in blood.... from being stabbed.
"Two innocent people and neither one of them probably hurt anybody. And, you've got a really terrible crime,” Police Chief Dean Akings said.
Chief Akings says Mandi had just started working at the bakery a few days earlier. Mrs. Drake was a customer.
“She probably just walked in, getting ready to buy something. And, was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Chief Akings said.
Officers thought this double murder would be solved quickly. That's because it happened between 5:15 and six o'clock in the evening... next to one of the busiest intersections in the city.
"Somebody should've seen something,” Chief Akings said.
Chief Akings knows at least someone did.
"We did locate a juvenile that witnessed somebody leaving that location. And, not only leaving, but locking the door,” Chief Akings said.
Investigators developed this sketch from the kid's information.
"We feel that the last person who left there was our killer,” Chief Akings said.
They even released surveillance video from a store nearby, hoping to get their guy. But it didn't work.
"It's not over until we catch the guy and one of these days, it's going to happen,” Chief Akings said.
The Dolly Madison Bakery closed shortly after the murders. It's being used for office storage right now. But the case is far from closed. Investigators have interviewed more than 700 people, followed-up on countless tips, they've even looked into five leads so far this year.
"We actually just did some interviews on it in the last month,” Kansas Bureau of Investigation's Brian Carroll said.
Carroll is the lead investigator on the Dolly Madison Bakery murders. He and Chief Akings don't call this a cold case because of how often tips still come in... 10 years after the crime.
"Some of the calls we had here not too long ago. Some people said, you know, I remember a little of this, but it probably doesn't mean anything, we want those calls,” Chief Akings said.
Investigators believe people in Great Bend can't forget a crime that was so brazen and apparently random.
"I know in the very beginning, there was speculation that it was a hit or that Mandi was targeted. That, in my opinion, and I will believe until the bitter end, that is absolutely false,” Kathye said.
Kathye thinks it was a robbery. And Mandi and Mrs. Drake were unintended targets.
Investigators say some money was taken. But they don't know for sure if robbery was the motive. They can all agree whoever walked in here, walked out a murderer, and tormenter for an entire town... still fixated on that day.
"It's something I think about every day. It never, never leaves my mind,” Kathye said.
Copyright © 2013, KWCH-TV