As much as anyone, the occupants of the small house at 2509 Walnut Drive want answers after a 15-year-old girl died in their home Monday afternoon.
"I’d love to know what happened," said a teary-eyed Mary Coker Wednesday. Neither Coker, 27, nor her fiance Jackie McHolland, 37, knew the girl’s name or what killed her.
"We feel so sorry for the family’s loss," McHolland said, referring to family of the victim.
Joseph Rykiel, the 30-year-old Great Bend man arrested Tuesday morning on suspicion of aggravated indecent liberties with a child, was a long-time friend of McHolland. However, "he pulled the wool over our eyes," McHolland said.
According to Coker, Rykiel, who was staying with Coker and McHolland temporarily, said he met the girl on the street. He asked if they would allow her to stay there.
"I said no," Coker said. "I didn’t know who she was." Rykiel gave conflicting ages for the girl to Coker and McHolland, telling one she was 18 and the other she was 20.
In the short time the girl was at the residence, "he made sure she stayed in the basement," Coker said of Rykiel.
Coker said she caught one glimpse of the girl and said she could hardly walk or hold up her head.
Coker and McHolland had left the house to visit family when the girl’s health problems occurred. They were called by the police to return home.
Rykiel called authorities to report the incident.