Teenagers charged in connection of cemetery homicide

bbashioum@demo-mo.comJune 9, 2014 

Two teens were charged this week in connection with the deadly shooting of 25-year-old Cass County man at a cemetery in rural Peculiar.
 
Mathew Volland, Raymore, was arrested on June 7 at the Cass County Sheriff’s Office, while Tyler Smallwood, Peculiar, was arrested the following day in Kansas.

Prosecutors have also charged the teens, who are both 18, with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in connection to the June 4 death of Forrest Fuller at a rural Peculiar cemetery.

The shooting apparently occurred over an argument between the three young men, who were at least acquaintances.
 
After Sheriff’s Office detectives investigated 98 leads in the case, the Cass County Prosecutor’s Office formally announced the charges against Volland and Smallwood on June 9, during a joint press conference in Harrisonville.
 
According to court documents, a witness called 911 at 2:30 p.m. on June 4 to report hearing the sound of gunfire coming from the area of Will’s Cemetery, located in the 21800 block of S. Thorngrove Road in rural Peculiar.
 
The calling party reported to dispatchers that he had looked in the direction of the cemetery and observed a vehicle, a tan-colored SUV, leaving from the area of the cemetery, north on Thorngrove Road, at a high rate of speed.
 
The caller then responded to the cemetery, where he discovered the victim laying on the ground next to his vehicle.
 
Upon deputies arriving to the scene, they discovered Fuller’s body with multiple gunshot wounds to his torso and arms.
 
A total of six .22 caliber spent casings and one live round ammunition were recovered by detectives at the cemetery.
 
On June 5, investigators called in additional law enforcement officers from the Kansas City Metro Squad, a special investigations team consisting of detectives from the surrounding area, to assist the deputies in the case.
 
 Ten teams of investigators gathered to follow up on information and evidence collected by detectives.
 
“We had 30 investigators and our staff investigating this incident,” Cass County Sheriff Dwight Diehl said.
 
As of June 9, Diehl said more than 1,200 hours of work has already gone into investigation through the work of 14 law enforcement agencies.
 
Investigators have also conducted 40 interviews and obtained a total of 17 “consent to search” warrants and subpoenas related to the case.
 
“While the Metro Squad is finished with their investigation, we still have a lot of work to do to finish this up,” Diehl added. “The investigation is still going on.”
 
The probable cause statement revealed that on June 6, Raymore police officers located Volland while he was driving the vehicle that was seen leaving the crime scene two days earlier. A 16-year-old girl who was with Volland in the vehicle was interviewed by police.
 
Upon investigation, the girl told police that between the hours of 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. on June 4, she observed Volland drive up to her residence and allowed Smallwood to exit the vehicle. Volland then drove away.
 
Smallwood then requested that she drive him home to his residence in Peculiar. She complied, and upon arrival to his home, Smallwood reportedly her details of an earlier altercation between him, Volland and Fuller at the cemetery.
 
The girl reported that Smallwood had told her that Fuller was at the cemetery when he and Volland had arrived.
 
As Volland exited his vehicle to approach Fuller to engage in a fight, he told police that he heard gunfire come from his vehicle, and within moments, observed Smallwood firing at the victim.
 
According to the girl, Smallwood said that while at the cemetery, he seated himself in a position of leaning out of the passenger’s window of the vehicle and began firing shots at the victim.
 
Investigators have not shared a motive for the nature of the crime.
 
Smallwood apparently told the girl that he had not intended to kill Fuler, but after firing the first shots, he realized Fuller would be able to act as a witness, he decided to continue shooting him until he was dead.
 
At one point during the shooting, Smallwoods’ weapon reportedly jammed, which required corrective action to clear so that he could continue to shoot Fuller.
 
The weapon, a .22 caliber Ruger 10-22 rifle, at some point, was then buried at an address in the 8800 block of E. 99th Street in Kansas City. Investigators recovered the weapon after receiving consent from the property owner.
 
Cass County Prosecutor Teresa Hensley said Volland was subsequently taken into custody at the Sheriff’s Office after he came in voluntarily for an interview.
 
During the interview, Volland admitted to his involvement in the murder, and corroborated information that Smallwood had fired shots that killed Fuller.
 
Volland and Smallwood are both being held in the Cass County Jail on $500,000 cash only bond.
 
Smallwood was initially arrested by Kansas law enforcement early in the morning on June 8 and was booked into the Ford County Sheriff's Office jail in Dodge City, Kan. On June 9, Smallwood waived extradition from Kansas and arrived at the Cass County Jail where he was taken into custody during the evening.
 
According the Cass County Sheriff’s Office inmate database, both suspects are scheduled to be arraigned in court at 9 a.m. June 19.

“I want to thank Dwight Diehl and the Cass County Sheriff’s Office, the Metro Squad, and all of the local law enforcement who are apart of the Metro Squad, for their hard work and their high-degree of professional that took place this weekend that was amazing,” Hensley said.
 
Other than two minor traffic violations on Smallwood's record, according to a Missouri Case Net search, neither suspects have a criminal history listed on the database. However, due to their age, any juvenile criminal history records may be unavailable to the public.

Upon the release of Fuller’s name as a victim in the crime, the Cass County Democrat Missourian also obtained court records from Case Net in reference to his legal history, including information about a third-degree assault charge and two protection orders, one dating back to 2008 and another from 2013.

Because the investigation of the murder is still ongoing, officials from the Sheriff’s Office would not comment if whether or not investigators feel Fuller's criminal past is relevant to the alleged crime that resulted in his death.

A visitation for Fuller is scheduled 6:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday, June 12, at the Dickey Funeral Home in Harrisonville. Family suggests contributions may be made back to the family.
 
Note: Initial information provided by the Cass County Sheriff’s Office listed Fuller as a Peculiar resident. However, the family wishes to share that the victim resided in Raymore with his mother, and also from Harrisonville, where his father resided.
 
This is a developing story. Please check www.demo-mo.com for the most up-to-date information on the investigation.

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