Petition to keep Nancy Shoemaker kidnapper in prison nears 15,000 signatures

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) Update Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019

A public-comment session stop for the parole hearing of a man convicted in the 1990 death of Nancy Shoemaker includes the presentation of a petition with nearly 15,000 signatures.

Those who signed the petition want to do what they can to keep Donald Wacker in prison for the rest of his life. Wacker is serving a life sentence for helping convicted killer Doil Lane kidnap Shoemaker in July 1990.

At Wednesday's hearing in Derby, Shoemaker's father and stepmother say rehashing the details of their daughter's murder is extremely emotional for the family.

Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett asks the state's prisoner review board to deny Wacker's parole for at least another 10 years. After four previous parole hearings coming up for Wacker within the last decade, this would give the family a longer stretch of not having to revisit the tragedy.

"We've gone through this quite a few times,and something I wish we didn't have to go through every few years," Bo Shoemaker said ahead of Wednesday's public-comment session in Derby.

Shoemaker's case is one that feeds a nightmare for parents.

"The cases that really upset the public are the cases that could happen to anybody," Bennett says. "A child walking down the street and getting abducted is every parent's worst nightmare."

Bennett says if the crime against Nancy Shoemaker happened today, Wacker would be looking at a capital murder conviction or a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

The fight to keep Wacker in prison is an effort that now spans across the U.S. Wednesday, family and friends presented the nearly 15,000 signatures in hopes that Wacker will stay locked up and at least for now, Nancy Shoemaker's family can have some closure.

Bennett says Wednesday's hearing in Derby also included about one hour of people supportive of Shoemaker's family "speaking from the heart."

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Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019

The state's prisoner review board in Derby Wednesday morning will take comments from the public on whether a man convicted of kidnapping Nancy Shoemaker in the summer of 1990 should stay in prison.

Donald Wacker is currently serving a life sentence in Shoemaker's case. He helped Doil Lane, the man who sexually assaulted and killed the 9-year-old girl, kidnap her.

Wacker's fifth parole hearing is set for Dec. 1.

In Dec. 2017, the Prisoner Review Board denied Wacker's fourth bid at parole due to the serious nature/circumstances of the crime and that Wacker denied responsibility and objections.

The board hears public comments ahead of the parole hearing. Wednesday's public-comment session in Derby is the second of three in Wacker's case, leading up to the Dec. 1 parole hearing. The first happened in Kansas City last Monday (Oct. 7). The final chance for public comment ahead of the hearing is set for Friday in Topeka.

Ahead of the public-comment sessions and hearing to follow, an organized effort in the form of a petition seeks to make sure Wacker actually does spend the rest of his life in prison. As of Tuesday (Oct. 16). signatures collected in Kansas and Florida approached 10,000 on the petition.

The petition doesn't formally serve a purpose with parole hearings, but it does demonstrate public support for Shoemaker's family and keeping Wacker in prison. Now living in Pensacola, Fla., Nancy's father, Bo Shoemaker and stepmother, Julie Shoemaker, returned to the Wichita area ahead of Wednesday's public-comment session in Derby.

"We've gone through this quite a few times and it's something I wish we didn't have to go through every few years," Bo Shoemaker says.

Wednesday's session goes from 10 a.m. to noon at the Derby Police and Courts building, 229 N. Baltimore Avenue, in Derby.

The Shoemakers say the support they receive on their return to Wichita helps ease some of the pain associated with the trip and its connection with what happened to Nancy 29 years ago.

"It's very heartwarming for us to come back into town and so many people want to help us," Julie Shoemaker says. "We've had people even thank us for allowing them to help."