The Kansas Prisoner Review Board has denied a parole request from John Henry Horton, the former SM East janitor convicted of killing a 13-year-old Prairie Village girl in 1974.
Lizabeth Wilson left the Prairie Village pool one afternoon in July and was never seen alive again. Her remains were discovered in a vacant field in Lenexa half a year later.
Horton was an early suspect in the case, but investigators could not gather enough evidence to file charges. It wasn’t until Prairie Village Police Det. Kyle Shipps re-opened the case in the early 2000s that the district attorney was able to file charges in the killing. Horton was charged and arrested in 2003 — nearly three decades after the murder. He was found guilty of the killing, but that initial conviction was reversed on appeal. Horton was immediately re-arrested, though, and tried again and found guilty in 2008. He has been in prison ever since and is carrying a life sentence.
However, under the laws in place at the time of his arrest, he was eligible for a parole hearing 15 years after the date he was first arrested and taken into custody. He will be eligible for another parole hearing in 2023.
Prairie Village City Administrator Wes Jordan, who moved into city administration after serving as the city’s chief of police, was Shipps’ supervisor at the time the detective lobbied to reopen the case. Jordan credits Shipps with a dogged determination to see Horton face justice.
“There was no give up in Kyle’s quest to find this evidence or track down detectives…and reinterviewing everyone involved,” Jordan wrote in a message to city staff about the parole hearing. “Kyle has since retired, but continues to stay in touch with the PD and recently testified at John Horton’s parole hearing. Thankfully, John Horton’s parole was denied, and he will have to wait until 2023 for another opportunity. Kyle already has that date on his calendar.”