A Neodesha man arrested after a 23-hour standoff with Parsons police is facing criminal charges.
Bradley J. Berkstresser, 35, Neodesha, is charged in Labette County District Court with two counts of aggravated endangering a child, both low-level felonies. The complaint alleges he did this by keeping two children in an abandoned home with no heat source when the temperature fell below freezing. He’s also charged with contributing to a child’s misconduct by causing a child to become or remain a child in need of care and criminal trespass at 2904 Crawford, both misdemeanors.
Berkstresser was arrested Jan. 29 and has yet to be in front of a judge, according to court records. He remains in the Labette County Jail on a $25,000 bond.
The house on Crawford had been red-tagged by the city. The red tag means the house failed an exterior inspection that graded the existence and quality of windows, doors, air conditioning, plumbing and other factors. The placard also allows police to remove trespassers because of the condition of the homes. The house had no utilities.
Neodesha authorities issued a notice that Berkstresser’s family was looking for him and his sons, ages 13 and 10. Family last saw them Jan. 21 and Berkstresser was seen at an ATM in Parsons on Jan. 24. Parsons Police Chief Robert Spinks said police received a report that Berkstresser was in town and searched several vacant homes looking for him. On Jan. 28, a family member came to Parsons to look for Berkstresser and found his 10-year-old son wandering in the 2600 block of Main near Dollar General. Berkstresser had sent the child out for peanut butter and bread, Spinks said. The child led the family member and police to where Berkstresser was staying. Berkstresser refused to come out and police were concerned he had a weapon so they evacuated homes close to where Berkstresser was staying. Police continued negotiations. Around 3 p.m. Jan. 29, police served an arrest warrant on Berkstresser by forcing their way into the back of the house after setting up a distraction.
In other cases:
— Wendell R. Martin Jr., 40, formerly of 716 S. 16th, pleaded no contest to an amended distribution of hydrocodone charge from an incident June 26, 2017. The amended charge reflects that he distributed fewer than 10 units rather than more than 10 but less than 100. The amended charge is a level four drug felony, which is less serious than the original charge. Martin will return to court April 12 for sentencing. Martin is serving a prison term now for convictions in Sedgwick and Neosho counties and will be parole eligible in December in those cases. The plea agreement includes a recommendation for a concurrent sentence in this drug case, meaning Martin could still be parole eligible in or near December.
— Daniel A. Smith, born in 1982, Altamont, waived his right to a preliminary hearing in a felony possession of methamphetamine case. He will return to court on March 29 for arraignment. He’s also facing a probation revocation for a 2017 case.
— Madison R. Witchley, born in 1996, Iola, pleaded no contest to possession of meth, a low-level drug felony. The recommendation at sentencing is for probation and drug treatment. She was arrested on Nov. 14, 2020, after Parsons police investigated a dispute between her and Joshua E. Lohff, born in 1990, Iola, at the Holiday Inn Express and found meth. Lohff is also charged with possession of meth. Witchley will be sentenced March 15. Lohff will appear in court Friday.
— Zane A. Craft, born 1998, 2008 N. 21st, is charged with aggravated endangering a child, a low-level felony. The complaint alleges that on Dec. 1, 2020, Craft placed a child, born in 2019, in situation where his or her life or health could be impacted by living in a home with no utilities and by heating the dwelling with an open fire and poor ventilation. He also faces two misdemeanor counts. Craft will return to court on Friday.