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Man Surrenders in ’79 Kansas Death

September 25, 1998

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) _ For almost two decades, police had kept open the case of a slain 19-year-old woman. No arrests were made. Detectives periodically reviewed the case.

During that time, Daniel Leroy Crocker led what some considered an exemplary life. He had two children. He managed a warehouse in Chantilly, Va. He was never suspected in the 1979 death of Tracy Fresquez.

``Had he not come forward, we would have not solved this case,″ said Johnson County District Attorney Paul Morrison. ``In the 18 years I’ve been a prosecutor, I’ve never seen a case unfold this way.″

Crocker, 38, turned himself in to Kansas City authorities on Tuesday. He was charged Wednesday with first-degree murder and is facing a sentence of life in prison, the penalty that was in place in 1979, without chance of parole for at least 15 years. Kansas reinstated the death penalty in 1994.

The Rev. Al Lawrence helped arrange Crocker’s surrender.

Lawrence said a friend from church brought Crocker to the minister last Thursday. At Crocker’s behest, Lawrence called Johnson County, Kan., authorities.

Crocker left behind his wife, Nicolette, and two children. He quit his job and took care of family business before surrendering, authorities said.

Mrs. Crocker stood resolutely behind her husband’s decision, Lawrence said.

``She was a very encouraging spirit,″ said Lawrence, who works for Reston, Va.-based Prison Fellowship Ministries, the group founded by Watergate figure Charles W. Colson.

Calls by The Associated Press on Thursday to the couple’s home rang unanswered.

Morrison said Thursday he believes the Crockers had lived in Virginia for a dozen years. Morrison has found no evidence that Crocker had a criminal record, he said.

Ms. Fresquez’ fiance found her strangled in her Shawnee apartment early on Oct. 6, 1979.

Officials’ believe Ms. Fresquez met Crocker, who was 19 at the time and living in Lenexa, Kan., at a convenience store just hours before her death. Morrison would not discuss evidence but said prosecutors are ``very comfortable″ they have enough to support the charge.

Crocker was held Thursday in the county jail on $100,000 bond. His next court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 1.

Authorities dropped an attempt to pursue rape and aggravated battery charges because the statute of limitations had expired.

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