Suspect arrested in investigation of fatal stabbing

Mar. 7—One of two men being sought in a robbery and fatal stabbing on State Line Road was taken into custody Wednesday afternoon following a vehicle pursuit west of Joplin.

Cherokee County, Kansas, deputies and Joplin police were involved in a pursuit over the noon hour Wednesday of a vehicle associated with one of the suspects in a robbery and slaying Saturday of Seth R. Langford, 36, of Carl Junction.

The pursuit ended when the fleeing suspect abandoned the vehicle behind a trailer home near West Seventh Street and Malang Road and fled on foot.

Jasper County deputies called to the scene at 12:15 p.m. set up a perimeter around the trailer and soon determined that no one was inside. Deputies then extended the search in the area and located Paul D. Phillips Jr., 36, of Seneca, at another residence nearby and placed him under arrest.

The sheriff's office had been looking for Phillips and Scott B. Burleson, 30, of Wyandotte, Oklahoma, as persons of interest in the robbery and stabbing.

Burleson, who remains at large, has been charged with second-degree murder in the slaying of Langford and also faces counts of first-degree robbery and armed criminal action.

A witness told investigators that Burleson stabbed Langford three or four times at the residence on State Line Road. Langford subsequently died following surgery at a local hospital.

The witness said that after the stabbing, Burleson pointed the knife at the witness and warned him not to call police. Burleson stole an ounce of marijuana and $7 from the witness as he left the address in a Chevrolet Silverado with two other occupants, according to the affidavit filed with Burleson's charges.

Charges of first-degree robbery, armed criminal action, unlawful use of a weapon, unlawful possession of a firearm and vehicle tampering were filed Thursday on Phillips, who remained in custody at the Jasper County Jail in Carthage on a no-bond warrant.

An accompanying probable-cause affidavit states that Phillips was identified as being at the scene of the crime through security camera footage and witness identification.

"It was also reported that (Phillips) was in possession of a firearm and had pointed it at witnesses and the victims," the affidavit reads.

The document further states that Phillips was known to have been driving a stolen Mercedes matching the description of the vehicle in the pursuit. A firearm was discovered by deputies in the driver's side door of the car.

According to the affidavit, Phillips admitted to investigators following his arrest that he was present when Langford was stabbed and that he had pulled out a gun and waved it about following the stabbing. He further stated that he had been holding the gun while Burleson threatened the witness and stole his marijuana and cash.

Phillips purportedly told investigators that he collected the cellphones of the others at the address as they were leaving and took them to Oklahoma, where he burned them.

The sheriff's office said in a news release that tips are still being sought regarding Burleson's whereabouts. The release warned that he should be regarded as armed and dangerous and that no one should try to apprehend him on their own.

Anyone with information on Burleson's location is being asked to call the sheriff's office dispatch center at 417-359-9100.