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Probe into girl's death continues
Man arrested as police investigate case
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A Great Bend man who was staying at the same address where 15-year-old Jessica Cheyanne Shearer died Monday has been arrested, although authorities won’t say if the charges are connected to the girl in any way.
Joseph Rykiel, 30, was arrested at 9:40 a.m. Tuesday in an apartment at 2507 11th St., and booked on suspicion of aggravated indecent liberties with a child. Bond was set at $100,000.
Meanwhile, the investigation continues, Great Bend Police Chief Dean Akings said Thursday morning. Formal charges are pending and will be determined by Barton County Attorney Douglas Matthews.
According to the police report, there was also a possible crime of second-degree murder. However, Akings said authorities are only pursuing the indecent liberties count at this time.
Authorities are still trying to learn more about Shearer’s death before deciding whether the case is a homicide. An autopsy was performed Tuesday, but Akings said the results will not be available for some time.
The report shows police seized the medication Ranitidine, commonly prescribed for heartburn, and took one oral DNA swab at the scene.
An ambulance was dispatched to 2509 Walnut Drive around 5:10 p.m. Monday to assist a female with respiratory problems. Rykiel also called the police, but when they arrived the girl had “passed away of unknown causes,” according to Lt. Bill Browne of the Great Bend Police Department.
Akings said the girl’s family has been contacted. Shearer is originally from Sublette, but had been living in Garden City.
The police report lists her address as that of Barton County Youth Care Inc.’s home for girls who are placed by various Kansas agencies.
According to the Kansas Department of Corrections, Rykiel has three drug-related convictions, one driving under the influence conviction and one aggravated robbery conviction, dating back to 2001. These came in Neosho, Crawford and Labette counties.
He had been in prison since September 2004 and was released Feb. 13 of this year.


Additional reporting by Dale Hogg