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Tuesday, Jul. 29, 2008

Post family pleads with parole board to keep killer in prison

kwright@theolathenews.com

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Although 28 years have passed since six members of the 11-member Post family were killed, the memories of those lost still evoke deep emotions in the surviving members.

“Our lives were forever changed that day,” said Michael Post, trying to hold back tears.

Robert Post, 51; his wife, Norma Jeanne Post, 47; sons Richard Post, 21, and James “Bobo” Post, 10; and daughters Diane Post Crump, 19, and Susan Post, 20, were killed Sept. 20, 1980, when a bomb ripped apart their house at 910 Van Mar Drive in Olathe.

The bomb — contained in a package placed on the hood of a car at the home by Diane’s former husband, Danny Crump, then 27 — included 10 sticks of dynamite hooked up to a motorcycle battery rigged to explode when someone opened the package.

David Post, who was 18 then, climbed out of the rubble. Randy Post, Diane’s 4-month-old son, was thrown from the house, and a neighbor revived him.

Michael Post was at work, and Joe Post was stationed at Whiteman Air Force Base and brought back to Olathe after the explosion occurred.

Cindy Post Foster lived a block away with her husband, Jim Foster, and their 3-year-old son. She also was four months pregnant with their daughter.

Lori Post Joray, who was 7 years old, was outside playing. She remembers little about the explosion, and although her parents and siblings are now vague childhood memories, “nothing will fill the hole in my heart,” she said.

The surviving Post family members and their children and friends shared these emotions Monday with the Kansas Parole Board, which is set to decide whether to parole Crump. He was convicted on six counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to six consecutive life terms.

If Crump had committed the crime under today’s sentencing guidelines, he would be an inmate on death row or die from old age in prison while serving 240 years for six consecutive life sentences. Crump, however, committed his crime when Kansas sentencing guidelines were more lenient, and he first became eligible for parole after serving 15 years. That first parole hearing, in 1995, caught surviving family members by surprise. The family quickly mobilized support and went before the parole board. Board members denied Crump’s parole and gave him the maximum extension of three years before he would become eligible for parole again.

The Post family didn’t let the three years go to waste. Working with former state legislators John Ballou and John Toplikar, the family got a bill signed into law that would allow the parole board to extend the time between an inmate’s parole hearings to up to 10 years. The Posts sought and received those 10 years when Crump was eligible for parole again in 1998.

But time passes quickly, and the family members found themselves before the board again Monday at Kansas City, Kan., City Hall. The family, however, was prepared, and their numbers have grown to include grandchildren and even great-grandchildren.

“The choices Danny Crump made, made choices for our whole family,” Chrystal Post Doleshal told board.

Doleshal talked about living life without knowing her grandparents or her aunts and uncles. Crump’s actions changed the family’s world, she said.

David Post said that serving 28 years for six deaths is not long enough.

“It should be at least 30 more years before this creep is eligible for parole,” he said.

Diane Post married Danny Crump in October 1979. The couple got a divorce the next year, but Diane had given birth to Randy in that short time. That ignited a custody dispute between them. The bomb, prosecutors contended, was meant as revenge against Diane but also as a way to gain custody of Randy.

Congressman Dennis Moore, who prosecuted the case as Johnson County district attorney, described Crump’s actions as brutal and vicious and asked the parole board to pass over Crump for another 10 years.

Law enforcement officers who attended Monday’s hearing agreed that Crump should remain behind bars.

Larry Griffin, who was a detective on the case and has since retired from the Olathe Police Department, said Crump never has taken responsibility or shown remorse for his crime.

Griffin was a Vietnam War combat veteran, and he said he never had seen something so horrific as the Post bombing. Griffin said that Crump was “cold and calculated,” and that the bomb was “designed to kill.”

When Griffin and Moore interviewed Crump in prison almost a decade after the killings, Crump blamed his conviction on a crooked district attorney’s office and a crooked judge. He also claimed his friends framed him.

“He never would take responsibility,” Griffin said.

“I believe him to be cold, calculated and cowardly,” Griffin later added.

The irony of the crime, retired Capt. Phil Patterson said, was that Crump almost killed Randy.

“The man interested in getting custody of this child had almost killed him,” Patterson said.

Moore said this crime had two sets of victims: the Post family and survivors, who were the direct victims, and Crump’s family members, who were the indirect victims. Crump had four children besides Randy, and two of his children, Daniel and Diane, asked the board to release their father. They had grown up without him and would like to have him back in their life, they said.

The support for Crump’s release, however, was small compared with the 50-plus Post family members and friends who attended the hearing.

Many wore shirts that read, “Justice For Six.” The shirts had the six deceased family members’ photographs surrounding a cross underneath the words.

This solidarity among the family will continue to give them strength as they fight to keep Crump behind bars, David Post said.

The family knows not everything about the tragedy can be explained, and the family draws comfort from each other.

The mother, Norma Jeanne Post, drew comfort in difficult times from the Serenity Prayer, which was printed on the back of the shirts: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the differences.”

Crump will go before the parole board Aug. 11, and the board then will render a decision four to six weeks after that.

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