The man arrested after 15-year-old Jessica Cheyanne Shearer died on July 4 has been formally charged with aggravated indecent liberties with a child, criminal sodomy with a child 14-16 years old and aggravated endangering a child.
Joseph Jeffery Rykiel, 30, made his first appearance Tuesday in Barton County District Court, before District Judge Hannelore Kitts. He waived his right to a preliminary hearing within 10 days, and the preliminary hearing was set for 9:30 a.m. on Aug. 25.
Attorney Robert Anderson was appointed to defend Rykiel, who listed himself as unemployed in court documents.
The complaint alleges that between July 1 and 4, Rykiel had intercourse and oral sex with a 15-year-old victim and on July 4 he caused or permitted a child under 18 years old to be placed in a situation in which the child’s life or bodily health was endangered.
Rykiel remains in custody at the Barton County Jail, where he has been since his July 5 arrest. The $100,000 bond first set by District Magistrate Judge Dale Urbanek remains unchanged. If he does make bail, Rykiel must attend a bond hearing before being released. He is also to have no contact with witnesses in the case.
Rykiel was staying at 2509 Walnut Drive on July 4 when, shortly after 5 p.m., an ambulance and police were dispatched to assist a 15-year-old girl at that address who had respiratory problems and was unresponsive. The Great Bend Police Department was also dispatched, but when they arrived the girl, Shearer, had died.
The cause of her death was not known at first. Authorities are reportedly awaiting final results of an autopsy that was conducted at the Regional Forensic Science Center in Wichita.
The Barton County Attorney’s Office reports the investigation into the girl’s death is continuing and other charges could be forthcoming.
The charges of aggravated indecent liberties with a child and criminal sodomy with a child are both level three person felonies, and the endangerment charge is a level 9 felony.