Francis Donald Nemechek (1 Viewer)


Francis Donald Nemechek

Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Abduction - Rape
Number of victims: 5
Date of murders: 1974 / 1976
Date of birth: June 29, 1950
Victims profile: Cheryl Young, 21, her son, Guy 3, and Diane Lovette, 19 / Carla Baker, 20 / Paula Fabrizius, 16
Method of murder: Shooting - Abandonment (froze to death) - Stabbing with knife
Location: Graham/Trego, Kansas, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison on March 7, 1977

Don Nemechek

On Dec. 13, 1974, Francis "Don" Nemechek shot out the tire of a car traveling on Interstate Highway 70 west of Hays. He then abducted the occupants of the car, two women and a 2-year-old boy. He shot and killed the women and left the boy, who wandered away and froze to death.

On June 30, 1976, Nemechek abducted and killed a 20-year-old Hays woman who was riding a bicycle.

On Aug. 21, 1976, Nemechek abducted a 16-year-old rangerette from Cedar Bluff Reservoir in western Kansas and stabbed her to death.

In February 1977, in a trial held in Salina under a judge's change of venue order, a jury found Nemechek guilty of first-degree murder in all five deaths. He was sentenced to five life prison terms. Twice the Kansas Parole Board turned down Nemechek's attempts at parole. Nemechek, who is now held in the Lansing Correctional Facility, will be eligible again in 2007.

Francis Donald Nemechek

Tuesday - February 8, 1977

The confession of Francis Donald Nemechek, charged with the killings of four women and a 3 year-old boy, was read into the record Tuesday during the 2nd day of testimony at his trial in Saline County District Court.

Leonard Pruter, Norton, a Kansas Bureau of Investigation Special Agent, told of how the confession was obtained and then proceeded to read it.

Pruter said Nemechek, 26, Wakeeney, gave the confession October 7, 1976 during a conference at the Ellis County Law Enforcement Center, in which Pruter, the defendant, both his attorneys and the County Attorneys of Graham, Ellis, and Trego counties were present.

Initial testimony in the trial has concerned the death of Carla Baker, 20, Hays. Former County Attorney Simon Roth, Jr., who is serving as special prosecutor in the trial, asked Pruter to read the portion of the confession concerning Miss Baker. Then, on cross examination, Defense Attorney Robert Earnest, Russell, had Pruter read the rest of the confession.

Nemechek's confession as read by Pruter related the following tales:

On the day of the Baker killing, Nemechek drove to Hays, depressed because he couldn't find any friends with whom to go out. He said he passed a girl (Carla Baker) on a bicycle, stopped his pickup truck and exposed himself to her, Nemechek said the girl, rode by and said, "You stupid bastard, you think you are funny?" The defendant said the girl's response angered him and prompted him to grab her and push her into his truck. He then drove her to the south side of Cedar Bluff Reservoir some 50 miles away.

Nemechek said he forced the girl to the back of his truck where they struggled. Nemechek said he tore off some of the girl's clothes, intending to rape her, whereupon the girl kicked him between the legs.

"When she kicked me, I told her she would not kick anyone else again," Pruter quoted from Nemechek's confession. Nemechek commented in the confession that his wife had once kicked him between the legs and he retaliated by giving her two black eyes.

Nemechek said he went to the front of the truck and got a knife, prompting Miss Baker to flee, The accused killer said he caught "Miss Baker after she ran away and stabbed her.

At that point in the testimony, Roth concluded his questioning and Attorney Earnest cross examined Pruter, asking him to read the remaining portion of the confession.

Pruter began with the portion concerning the Lovette-Young killings. Pruter quoted the confession as saying that in December, 1974, Nemechek was depressed because of a visitation problem involving his child and ex-wife. He got in his pickup and began to drive, the confession said.

Nemechek said he was driving on Interstate 70 when he came upon a car with a flat tire. Nemechek said he stopped to help the occupants of the car, later determined to be Cheryl Young, 21, her son, Guy 3, and Diane Lovette, 19 all of Fort Madison, Iowa.

Nemechek said the shorter woman (Miss Lovette), "who reminded me of my wife", declined his help and began to curse him. Miss Lovette's cursing angered Nemechek, the confession said, and he forced all three of the victims into his pickup at the point of an unloaded shotgun.

"I decided to go out to the old place on the farm," Nemechek said, referring to a farm southwest of Hill City, owned by Joe Faulkner, where where he was employed at the time.

"I wanted to teach them a lesson," he said in the confession, referring to the cursing. At the house, Nemechek had the two women undress and he raped Miss Lovette. When he had finished Mrs. Young kicked him in the side. Nemechek then went to his truck, loaded his shotgun, and returned to shoot each woman one time. He said one of the women continued to curse him after being shot. Nemechek went back to his truck, reloaded his shotgun, returned upstairs and shot Mrs. Young a second time.

Apparently throughout the entire episode, Nemechek took no notice of the 3 year old boy, Guy Young, who was found frozen to death outside the farmhouse a month later.

"When they found the bodies at the house, I was just as surprised as Joe," Nemechek said in the confession.

Pruter then began reading the section of the confession concerning Paula Fabrizius, 16, Ellis. Nemechek said he had gone to the Cedar Bluff Reservoir looking for a friend. He stopped at Miss Fabrizius' Rangerette station to ask directions. She directed him to the boat ramp, but he returned when he failed to find his friend there. Nemechek said he asked Miss Fabrizius for a car permit, and after some discussion, he grabbed her and pulled her into his truck.

Nemechek said Miss Fabrizius didn't fight him, but kept pleading with him to let her go. Nemechek drove to a bluff in Gove County overlooking Castle Rock where he raped her.

After the rape, Miss Fabrizius told Nemechek, "My dad will get you for this." Nemechek said in the confession, "I got my knife and pushed it into her." He then threw her body and her clothes off the bluff.

One earlier witness at the trial Tuesday, Gary L. Dirks, Great Bend, a Kansas Bureau of Investigation forensic chemist, told of an examination he made of a carpet from the bed of Nemechek's pickup.

During questioning about the Baker killing, Dirks, said he found Type A blood in the rug and estimated three fourths of a pint had soaked into the rug. He also said he found on the rug a piece of cloth matching a shirt Miss Baker was wearing the night she disappeared.

After reading the confession court was recessed. When the trial was resumed, Graham County Sheriff Don Scott's testimony began the case of the Lovette-Young murders, with former Graham County Attorney Randall Weller, also acting as special prosecutor, taking over the questioning.

Scott told of being summoned January 13, 1975, to the abandoned farmhouse on Joe Faulkner's property where the body of Guy Young had been discovered. The house he said, had not been lived in since the 1930's.

Kansas man stalked and killed four women and a small boy

The Capital-Journal

Perched atop a bridge over Interstate 70 in western Kansas, a sniper pointed his rifle through the darkness toward a small car passing below.

He pulled the trigger.

The bullet punctured one of the car's tires.

It was Dec. 13, 1974, as gunman Francis Donald "Don" Nemechek climbed into his pickup truck and turned on the engine.

He pulled to a stop near the stranded motorists, two young women and a small boy.

Their lives were about to end.

Love and hate

Nemechek, then 24, was upset. He had just argued with his former wife, Cindy, about visitation rights with their young son, Kyle.

The couple had divorced that summer after a two-year marriage. A psychiatrist would testify he thought Nemechek had a "love-hate" relationship with his former wife and killed other women because he couldn't get away with killing her.

Nemechek's victims on Dec. 13, 1974, would be three people he had never met: Cheryl Young, 21, who was separated from her husband; her 19-year-old friend, blond-haired Diane Lovett; and Young's son, Guy Young, who was 2 years and 10 months old. The three had visited relatives in Colorado and were driving to Iowa, where Lovett lived.

Nemechek shot out their tire on I-70 near Ogallah, west of Hays. Authorities aren't sure what happened next.

A history of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, published by that agency in 1990, contends the women -- alone and in the dead of night -- saw Nemechek approach, got into their car, rolled up the windows and refused help. But Nemechek went back to his truck, got a shotgun, returned and forced them to go with him to his truck. One woman carried the child wrapped in a blanket.

Nemechek later would say in a confession that he intended to help the stranded motorists, but Lovett cursed at him. He said Lovett's cursing, and the fact she was relatively short, reminded him of his wife, so he abducted the women at gunpoint.

Nemechek drove his victims to a two-story stone farmhouse that had been vacant for 35 years. The house was on a little-used, dead-end road about 15 miles north of I-70. The site is about 15 miles northeast of WaKeeney.

"It was a really, really secluded area," Graham County Sheriff Don Scott recalled recently, describing the route to the building as more of a path than a road. Nemechek had worked for the landowner.

Nemechek took the women up a rickety staircase to the second floor, where he raped one or both, then killed them with blasts from his 12-gauge shotgun.

Guy Young was wearing slacks and a light T-shirt, but no shoes or coat. The KBI history says Nemechek ignored the child, who crawled from the building and froze to death in the cold night.

Scott said Nemechek admitted to killing both women, but denied that a child was involved.

"He never, ever would admit to taking the boy," Scott said. "It was just like that was a blank part in his mind."

After blasting the women to death with his 12-gauge, Nemechek felt he had done something wrong. He even vomited.

But after that, he said, he "never gave it much thought."

Sniper attack

Scott, who has been Graham County sheriff since 1973, felt little concern when the car that carried Lovett and the Youngs was found sitting with a flat tire along I-70. Abandoned cars on that stretch of highway were fairly common, and nothing about their car looked suspicious.

A month later, on Jan. 13, 1975, trappers found Guy Young's frozen body lying 10 to 15 feet from the abandoned farmhouse. Scott found the bodies of Lovett and Cheryl Young on the dimly lit second floor. Parts had been eaten away by rodents.

The KBI helped local authorities investigate without success.

Then, shortly before 1 a.m. on Jan. 1, 1976, a man driving a pickup truck with a topper started playing a vehicular game of "cat and mouse" with four members of a Denver family who were headed eastbound on I-70 east of WaKeeney.

The driver of the pickup drove ahead, stopped at I-70's Ogallah overpass and fired four .22-caliber bullets at the moving car. One bullet hit a hubcap, two struck the front driver's side door and another hit the rear driver's side door, lodging in the back seat.

The car's occupants weren't hit. They drove to Hays and reported the sniper attack, giving a detailed description of the truck. Authorities investigated and announced on Jan. 14, 1976, that they had charged Nemechek with firing the shots.

Nemechek was jailed, then set free on a $20,000 bond. His trial was set for September 1976.

Investigators found it curious that the sniper attack occurred at nearly the same place where Lovett and the Youngs disappeared. Though they were unable to link Nemechek with the triple murder, authorities would be keeping an eye on him.

More murder

Since his divorce, his father would say, Nemechek had done little but work in a welding shop, fish, drink beer and hunt coyotes.

Soon, however, he would kill again.

On the evening of June 30, 1976, 20-year-old Carla Baker, of Hays, went for a bike ride. Baker was a University of Kansas student at home visiting her parents.

Nemechek said in a confession he was outside his truck urinating alongside a country road west of Hays when Baker rode in his direction and he exposed himself to her. She scolded Nemechek, who grabbed her from her bike and forced her into his truck. Nemechek said he was unarmed as he drove Baker to an isolated area at Cedar Bluff Reservoir and tried to rape her.

"She kicked me in between the legs, so I went to get my knife," he said, recalling his wife once kicked him between the legs: "When I put in the blade, I remember calling her Cindy (his wife's name), and I thought, 'You will never do that again.' "

Baker's father -- Dr. Richard Baker, a professor of education at Fort Hays State College in Hays -- found her bike early the next morning lying in weeds alongside the country road. Her body remained unaccounted for.

A cheerleader

The next victim was 16-year-old Paula Fabrizius. She was a cheerleader at Ellis High School in Ellis, almost 20 miles east of WaKeeney and 20 miles north of Cedar Bluff Reservoir.

Fabrizius worked part-time as a rangerette at that reservoir, checking stickers on vehicles. Rangerettes were supposed to work in pairs, but a shortage of employees forced Fabrizius to work alone on Saturday, Aug. 21, 1976.

At about 6:30 p.m. that day, a male park ranger briefly left Fabrizius at her post on the south side of the reservoir to get her some bubble gum. Fabrizius was sitting in her car when Nemechek drove up to talk. He later said in a confession that he "snapped," opened her car door, grabbed Fabrizius and pulled her out.

Nemechek took the girl in his truck to a machine shed on land owned by his father near historic Castle Rock, a sandstone formation that rises high above the western Kansas plains at Quinter, almost 30 miles northwest of where she was abducted.

The shed was locked, so he took her to an area near Castle Rock and raped her.

Afterward, Nemechek said, Fabrizius insisted her dad would "get" him for what he had done, then hit him with a rock. Nemechek stabbed her at least eight times with a hunting knife, cutting her hands as she sought to defend herself. The fatal wound pierced her heart. An autopsy showed Fabrizius was stabbed in the groin area after she died. Nemechek threw her nude body off a 25-foot bluff.

That night, a group of people searched the area at Cedar Bluff Reservoir trying to find Fabrizius. One searcher was Nemechek. They didn't find her.

The noose tightens

Fabrizius' body was found the next morning. Among the dozens of pieces of evidence collected at the scene was a warranty card for a citizen's band radio.

KBI agents, who were already suspicious of Nemechek, checked to see whether any of the evidence linked him to the killing of Fabrizius.

They hit paydirt.

A thumbprint on the CB radio warranty card was Nemechek's.

In addition, several people said they had seen Nemechek's truck at the reservoir or on the way to Castle Rock on the day Fabrizius died.

On Aug. 24, 1976, KBI agents questioned Nemechek. He admitted he had talked with Fabrizius the last day she was seen alive and that he had bought a new CB radio that day. Nemechek was quickly jailed in connection with the murder of Fabrizius.

"We knew we had the evidence we could convict with, and we didn't want to take any chances that he'd kill again," recalled Bob Clester, then a KBI supervisor. The KBI history published in 1990 described the Nemechek probe as one of the finest examples of investigative and laboratory work in the bureau's history.

The following month, Carla Baker's remains were found in a canyon on the south edge of Cedar Bluff Reservoir. An autopsy was unable to determine how she was killed.

Soon afterward, authorities learned from a fellow county jail inmate that Nemechek had admitted to killing Fabrizius, Baker, Lovett and Cheryl Young.

In October 1976, Nemechek confessed to investigators that he killed those women. He pleaded innocent by reason of insanity when he went to trial in February 1977 for the slayings of the four women and Guy Young.

Though the murders were committed in four different counties, the cases were combined. The trial was moved to Salina on a change of venue order after a judge ruled Nemechek couldn't get a fair trial in WaKeeney.

At trial, jurors heard conflicting testimony from psychiatrists about whether Nemechek was sane when he committed the murders.

A defense psychiatrist said Nemechek liked to dress in women's clothing in his late teens and seemed undecided about whether he rather would be a man -- in a world where he felt he couldn't compete -- or a woman. He said Nemechek became psychotic when the women reacted to him negatively before he killed them.

A prosecution psychiatrist countered Nemechek knew what he was doing and knew his actions were wrong. He said he thought Nemechek lied to him during testing in order to appear insane.

A special prosecutor challenged statements from Nemechek's confession. He said Nemechek admitted to a state psychologist that Lovett hadn't cursed at him before he killed her, and contended Nemechek already must have been carrying a knife when he grabbed Baker.

After nearly four hours of deliberation, a jury found Nemechek guilty on all five counts of first-degree murder. He was sentenced to five life prison terms. In another confession soon afterward, Nemechek told Scott and two other law enforcement officers further details of the killings, admitting he had shot out a tire of the car carrying Lovett and Cheryl Young before killing them.

The following month, March 1977, Nemechek insisted in media interviews that he had changed. He said that after years of not accepting religion, he had found God. Nemechek said his favorite reading materials were the Bible and hot rod magazines. He said he believed God meant for him to help other prisoners.

"I can't even go out and shoot a dog," he said. "The Don Nemechek who killed five people is dead."


Nemechek first became eligible for release from prison in 1991. Kansas Parole Board members decided to keep him behind bars and not consider him again for the maximum possible period of three years.

In 1994, they did that again.

In 1996, Kathleen Fabrizius, sister-in-law of Paula Fabrizius, was among people who testified before the Legislature in favor of a law that would give the parole board authority to refuse inmates parole and not consider them again for 10 years.

The law passed.

When Nemechek became parole-eligible again in 1997, Kathleen Fabrizius presented the parole board petitions containing signatures of more than 15,000 people. Those people asked that Nemechek be refused parole and not considered again for 10 years. Signatures had been gathered from 38 states and two foreign countries, though most were from Kansas.

Parole board members agreed not to see Nemechek for another 10 years. Now 53 years old, he is an inmate at Lansing Correctional Facility. He will be parole-eligible in 2007.


MO: Rape-slayer of females age 16-21; also killed three-year-old boy.

DISPOSITION: Five consecutiva life terms, 1977.

Francis "Don" Nemechek arrest

Francis Donald Nemechek prison photo

Francis Donald Nemechek prison photo


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