The 98-year-old co-owner of the Marion County Record collapsed last Saturday and died, just one day after police raided her home and the newspaper’s office, CBS News reported.
The Marion County Record said Joan Meyer had been “stressed” and “overwhelmed” by “shock and grief” over the raid.
During the August 11 search, Marion Police seized Meyer’s computer and router from her home while officers who raided the newspaper’s office seized cell phones, computers, a server, and other equipment.
The search warrant used in the raid suggests that police were investigating identity theft and computer crimes. The warrant also indicated that Marion Police were looking for records and documents pertaining to Kari Newell, a local restauranteur.
CBS News reported on Sunday that the three affidavits that were used as a basis for the searches were not filed until Monday, August 14.
The affidavits, signed by Marion Police Chief Gideon Cody, were filed for the Marion County Record, the homes of the publisher, and Marion Councilwoman Ruth Herbel.
According to the affidavits, Chief Cody alleged that Record reporter Phyllis Zorn obtained the driving records of Kari Newell illegally. Cody alleged that he was told by the Department of Revenue that the information had been downloaded by Zorn and someone claiming to be Kari Newell. However, Newell did not authorize anyone to download the information, and “someone obviously stole her identity,” Cody wrote.
Cody concluded that the information was accessed either by “impersonating” Newell or by “lying about the reasons” the record was sought.
Bernie Rhodes, the attorney for the Marion County Record said the way Zorn accessed the records was legal both under federal and state law. He maintained that Zorn did not engage in identity theft or “unauthorized computer access.”
Since the August 11 raid, Marion County Attorney Joel Ensey said a review of the seizures found that there is “insufficient evidence” establishing a “legally sufficient nexus” between the alleged crime and the locations searched or items seized.
The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is now leading the investigation into whether the Marion County Record broke state laws.