Kansas Police Chief’s Investigation Over Sex Claims Preceded Raid on Small-Town Newspaper

Journalists in America were left shocked when news broke of a small town police force raiding the offices of “The Marion County Record” last Friday.

Kari Newell, who owns Kari’s Kitchen in Marion, Kansas, reportedly prompted the town police to take action against the local newspaper, accusing its reporters of illegally obtaining her DUI record.

Magistrate Laura Viar granted a warrant request from the town’s police chief, Gideon Cody, allowing the raid on the newspaper’s office to confiscate files and computers.

Having served Marion County since 1869, the weekly newspaper boasts around 4,000 subscribers. The publication asserts that the unprecedented raid of the home of its 98-year-old publisher led to her demise.

During the operation, police entered the residence of co-publisher Joan Meyer, confiscating computers, phones, and personal items, including the router connecting her Alexa speakers.

“This is the type of stuff that, you know, Vladimir Putin does, that Third World dictators do,” Eric Meyer, 69, told the Associated Press. “This is Gestapo tactics from World War II.”

“These are Hitler tactics and something has to be done,” Mrs. Meyer told Wichita Eagle reporter Dion Lefler.

“The Hitler remark ultimately became one of her final statements,” Lefler penned. “On Friday, when she spoke with us, Mrs. Meyer conveyed her distress and tension due to the intrusion into her home.”

The co-proprietor of the newspaper, she suffered such severe trauma from the police’s home raid that she found herself unable to eat or sleep, as reported by the Kansas City Star.

“Stressed beyond her limits and overwhelmed by hours of shock and grief after an illegal police raid on her home and the Marion County Record newspaper office Friday,” her paper reported, “98-year-old newspaper owner Joan Meyer, otherwise in good health for her age, collapsed Saturday afternoon and died at her home.”

The police raid on The Marion County Record received condemnation from over 30 news media organizations, as well as The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

In a show of support, the Society of Professional Journalists committed $20,000 to assist in covering the newspaper’s legal defense, as stated by the Associated Press.

The New York Post characterized Chief Cody and his officers’ actions as reminiscent of a “Gestapo-style” raid on the small-town newspaper. The publication suggested that Chief Cody might have been motivated by a desire for revenge against the paper.

It came to light that The Marion County Record had initiated an investigation into Chief Cody, 54, following numerous calls alleging that he had left his previous police position to evade demotion due to sexual misconduct allegations.

Before joining Marion County’s PD, Chief Cody retired from the Kansas City, Missouri police force after 24 years of service, having held the rank of captain, according to The Post.

Co-Publisher Eric Meyer revealed that former colleagues of Chief Cody had contacted The Record and disclosed the claims of sexual misconduct. However, since the six-plus anonymous sources did not agree to speak on record and reporters couldn’t access Cody’s personnel file, no reports regarding the allegations were published prior to the raid.

Any attempt by Ms. Newell to conceal a drunk driving conviction appeared to have failed spectacularly, just as Chief Cody’s attempts to suppress reports of alleged official misconduct against him.

Chief Cody defended the legality of the newspaper raid, while Jared Smith, a lifelong Marion resident, expressed support for it, citing a report that had negatively impacted his wife’s day spa business.

The authorities seemed ill-prepared for the backlash the raids incited, with some agencies declining to comment on Monday, while others defended the police’s investigative abilities.

While reporting news should not be criminalized, The Marion County Record may now find itself questioning whether it’s still in Kansas, much like Dorothy.