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Kansas Hostage Standoff Ends

January 24, 1998

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ A gunman released his hostage and surrendered Saturday, ending a nearly two-day standoff with police. The hostage’s wife had been released earlier.

Kipling Johnson had been holding Ralph Leary, 59, at Leary’s rural home since a botched robbery attempt at another house on Thursday, police said.

Johnson, 32, of Lawrence, and Leary walked out of the farm house together shortly after 5 a.m., Douglas County Sheriff Loren Anderson said.

``We were able to get a resolution with no one being injured,″ the sheriff said. ``We feel very fortunate that we were able to close it out.″

Leary was reunited with his wife, Leila, 49, who had been freed Thursday night when a second man, David Cox, also surrendered. Both Cox and Johnson had been released on parole last month, the sheriff said.

``We are grateful we were not harmed in any way by David and Kip,″ Mrs. Leary said in a statement that was read to reporters. ``We know this is a difficult time for their family and we hope all of us will eventually put this behind us.″

Anderson said Johnson had made several requests but he would not elaborate. Johnson had broken off talks Thursday evening but reopened negotiations about 1 a.m. Saturday, the sheriff said.

The confrontation started Thursday morning when two men confronted a high school student as she went out to start her car at another rural home south of Lawrence. They tied her up and took her car.

The men were pursued by the young woman’s father, who had called police and tracked his daughter’s car to the Learys’ house.

About 40 law enforcement officers surrounded the Leary home.

The sheriff’s office said Johnson was still being interviewed by investigators Saturday afternoon and had not yet been booked on any counts.

Cox, 35, of Kansas City, Kan., was booked on three counts of kidnapping, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, theft, attempt to commit theft and a parole violation, Anderson said. Bail was set at $250,000.

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