Two men serving prison sentences for unrelated, high profile crimes from the past two decades in Great Bend are again eligible for parole hearings.
Terrill L. Schinstock and Melvin E. Bryant Jr. will both come before the Kansas Department of Corrections’ Prisoner Revue Board in March. If granted parole, their earlier possible release date would be April 1.
Schinstock, 47, was arrested in February of 1992, after hiring Gene Horyna to kill his wife Tammy Schinstock, who was 27 years old and eight months pregnant at the time. Horyna was also supposed to burn down the house to destroy evidence, so after beating the woman in multiple parts of the house and repeatedly zapping her with a stun gun, he turned on the gas and lit a candle before leaving. But the house did not explode as planned and the victim, who survived, was able to identify her attacker, although she did not know him. She later gave birth to a healthy baby.
Terrill Schinstock was convicted of attempted and conspired first degree murder, and attempted and conspired aggravated arson. Horyna, who was convicted of similar charges, was released from prison in 2007.
Schinstock was eligible for a parole hearing last July, when he was at the Winfield Correctional Facility in a minimum security area. Since then, he has been moved to the Wichita Work-Release Center.
Bryant, 39, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter after a gun battle that occurred May 9, 2003, and claimed the life of 23-year-old Jessie Bittner. He is housed at El Dorado Correctional Facility and his custody level is high-medium.
On May 9, 2003, Bryant and accomplices Gregory D. Washington and Richard Ruffus drove to Great Bend from Larned and broke into Bittner’s mobile home at 219 East Third St. Bittner knew the men and reached for a weapon; he died in a gun battle in which Bryant and Washington were wounded. Bittner’s 16-year-old brother was held at gunpoint but escaped after a struggle with the assailants.
Washington, now 31, was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and burglary. He was released on parole to Sedgwick County in January 2011.
Ruffus, 38, was convicted of voluntary manslaughter, kidnapping the teenage boy in the commission of a crime, and battery. He is housed at Lansing Correctional Facility in a minimum custody level. He will not be eligible for parole until March 2014.
The Kansas Parole Board will hold public hearings this month, concerning all inmates who are eligible for parole hearings in March. The public hearings will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Feb. 21 at the Finney State Office Building in Wichita; 8:30-10:30 a.m. on Feb. 22 at the Landon State Office Building in Topeka; and 10 a.m. to noon on Feb. 27 at City Hall in Kansas City. Written comments may be mailed to Kansas Parole Board; Landon State Office Building; 900 SW Jackson St., Room 452 S; Topeka, KS 66612-1220.