Kansas AG: Oklahoma PI’s Death Not A Murder

Monday, October 8th 2007, 11:42 am
By: News On 6

GALENA, Kan. (AP) _ A private investigator whose death has been the subject of several investigations was not murdered, the Kansas attorney general's office has ruled.

Jim Potts, of Wyandotte, Okla., was investigating the Galena police department when he was found dead with a gunshot wound to the head beside a road outside of Galena on August 26, 2003.

Potts' widow and a lawyer for whom he was working are convinced he didn't commit suicide, which is what authorities ruled soon after Potts' body was discovered.

A recent investigation by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation resulted in the latest ruling that Potts was not murdered.

``Based upon our review of their investigation, there is no credible evidence to support a theory of homicide,'' Nola Wright, assistant attorney general, wrote in an August 28 letter to Potts' widow, Carolyn Potts.

Jim Potts was found dead next to his car on Kansas 26 near Galena. A .38-caliber revolver was near his left foot and his Oklahoma driver license was near his left hand.

Roger Johnson, a Joplin, Mo., attorney, had hired Potts to investigate the Galena Police Department and then-police Chief Cameron Arthur on behalf of a client whose arm was broken by a Galena officer during an arrest.

Arthur was fired in November 2003, after three years of controversy over complaints including police brutality and unauthorized sale of police patches on the Internet. But he was never charged with any violation related to his job.

Potts had been contacted by other Galena residents who wanted him to investigate complaints against the police chief.

``Roger, I just wanted to let you know about this in case I disappear. ha!'' Potts wrote in an August 5, 2003, e-mail to Johnson about a phone conversation with a Galena resident. Johnson said he didn't think Potts was in any danger when he received the e-mail.

The Cherokee County Sheriff's Department led the first investigation into Potts' death and quickly ruled it a suicide. The sheriff's deputy in charge of the investigation was working part time for the Galena Police Department.

Former Cherokee County Sheriff Bob Creech asked the KBI to investigate the case in mid-2004 after several stories about the death had appeared in The Joplin Globe, primarily focusing on the way the death was investigated. A grand jury also was convened in Cherokee County to investigate the death in 2005, but no indictments resulted.

The FBI launched an investigation into the death in 2005 for the civil-rights division of the U.S. Justice Department. The federal agency concluded in January that there was no evidence of a civil-rights violation.