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Kansas man charged with murder of nursing student in 1980

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GRANDBEND, Kan. — A Kansas man has been charged in the 1980 shooting death of a 23-year-old neighbor after investigators reviewing his death found new evidence, authorities said.

Kansas Bureau of Investigation officers arrested Steven Hanks, 68, of Burden on Thursday, charged with second-degree murder in the death of Mary Robin Walter, who was a wife, mother and nursing school student when she was killed, Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir said at a news conference Friday. He is being held on $500,000 bail and has no attorney, according to court records.

Bellendir said Detective Sgt. Adam Hales decided in April to reopen the investigation into the January 24, 1980 murder, which occurred at a trailer park near the airport in Great Bend, a town of about 15,000 people in central Kansas.

“After taking another look at the case, it became apparent that some information was initially ignored and some was added later,” the sheriff said. “This was unknown to the original investigators.”

Bellendir has ordered two additional officers to join the investigation. In October, new evidence was uncovered, though authorities refused to release it.

Bellendir said Hanks was investigated as a suspect immediately after the shooting, “but the case went cold.” He did not reveal a possible motive for the murder.

Hanks spent time in jail for another crime. He was arrested in 1981 and charged with rape, assault, robbery and burglary. He was convicted in 1983 and released in 1993, according to Kansas Department of Corrections online records.

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ABC News

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