THE AUGUSTA CHRONICLE
APRIL 30, 2002
VICTIM'S PARENTS GET CHILD CUSTODY:
Four days after an Augusta woman was picked up by Texas police who suspect she took part in the slaying of her estranged husband, the victim's parents were granted temporary custody of the couple's child.
Tyshee Prokop, 23, is being held in the Richmond County jail for authorities in Killeen, Texas, said Maj. Ken Autry of the Richmond County Sheriff's Office. She was picked up Thursday afternoon at her Augusta Apartment.
A Bell County, Texas, grand jury issued indictments Wednesday accusing Ms. Prokop and three others of capital murder in the June 25, 1998, shooting death of Spc. Gary T. Prokop, 22, A fourth suspect was charged with tampering with evidence in connection with the disposal of the weapon allegedly used in the killing.
On Monday afternoon, Stanley and Maria Prokop petitioned the Richmond County Juvenile Court for temporary custody of their granddaughter Kalani, who is now 4.
"We're so happy, and we appreciate the judge's ruling. Kalani will finally meet her father's family, who has been cut off from her..."the victims's stepmother said.
The Prokops intend to take Kalani back to their home in San Diego to live. They brought clothes and toys to Augusta for the child they haven't been able to see since she was a baby, Mrs. Prokop said.
Two aunts, an uncle and a large extended family await the child in California, Mrs. Prokop said.
Kalani's father was within two weeks of being discharged from the Army when he was killed. He intended to move back home to San Diego and pursue a degree in architecture, his parents wrote in a petition for child custody.
According to a report in the Killen Daily Herald, investigations in Killeen say Spc. Prokop was a victim of a murder-for-hire. Officers contend Ms. Prokop wanted to collect on his $200,000 military life insurance.
The Texas newspaper report that the Prokops had been married for 18 months and were getting a divorce at the time of the killing. Police said Spc. Prokop's wife and baby were at home when he answered a knock at the door and was shot in the head.
According to Sgt. Patrick Turck of the Killeen Police department, authorities had identified and interviewed the suspects on "day one" but could not compile enough evidence to bring charges.
Sgt. Turck told the Daily Herald that police received a significant break in the case during summer 2001 when an informant's tip led them to Newport News, Va., where new information was gained.
Since then, police have recovered from a Killeen residence an assault rifle they supect was used in the killing. Suspects now are in custody in Texas, Missouri, Virginia and Georgia.
Mr. Prokop has not been scheduled yet for an extradition hearing in Augusta. A $100,000 bond was set for her in Bell County.
KILLEEN DAILY HERALD
Ortiz absorbs hope from previous cases. Gary Thomas Prokop, 22 died of a single gunshot wound to the head on June 15, 1998.
He broke the dead-end case in 2001 when he interviewed Reuben James Salgado at an out-of-state jail. Salgado led police to the murder weapon and the case unfolded from there.
Prokop's wife, Tyshee Manik Prokop received life prison after she pleaded guilty. The shooter, Charles Turnbull III, also received a life sentence. Two others were sentenced in the conspiracy.
Prokop's father, Stanley Prokop, in San Diego at the time, called Ortiz every week like clockwork before the case was solved.
Ortiz counseled him to stay hopeful and assured Prokop on day they would meet. They met when Ortiz broke the case.
A plaque given by Prokop father rests on Oritz' wall.
"This makes it all worthwhile. This will beat any award," Oritz said. "That's the result I want to see with all cases. Get justices for the families."
Brother, Jason Prokop
Grandmother: Edna Prokop
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