Fort Scott man charged in 1992 Branson area cold case

FORT SCOTT, Kan. / TANEY COUNTY, Mo. – Thirty years later, prosecutors charge a southeast Kansas man in a 1992 Branson, Missouri area assault and rape case.

The Taney County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office filed the following charges against 61-year-old Tony Lee Wagner, of Fort Scott, on October 11, 2022:

  • Assault first-degree (2 counts)
  • kidnapping first-degree
  • forcible rape

The assault happened on August 15, 1992, in Henning State Park in Taney County, Missouri.

According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, “On August 14, 1992, two women traveled from Texas to vacation in the Branson, Missouri, area. On the afternoon of August 15, 1992, both women visited the Henning State Park on Missouri Highway 76 in Taney County to walk on the trails.”

While they were walking, they encountered an unknown man. Authorities say he started to assault both women.

The MSHP states, “One of the women was able to escape and summoned help from a passing motorist. Law enforcement officers quickly began a search of the park.”

Authorities found the second victim in the park in an area away from the original scene. Emergency personnel took both women to area hospitals.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol states that it and the Taney County Sheriff’s Department immediately launched a joint investigation. They didn’t identify any suspects during the initial investigation and the case went cold.

New Technology Helps Solve Cold Case

“Continued investigation efforts and advances in forensic science technology led to Wagner being identified as a suspect,” states the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Troop D Division of Drug and Crime Control Unit, the Missouri State Highway Patrol Crime Laboratory Division, Fort Scott (Kansas) Police Department, and Parabon Nanolabs worked together to solve the case.

The Taney County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office charged Wagner on October 11, 2022.

Fort Scott (Kansas) Police Department officers arrested Wagner. They are holding him without bond in the Bourbon County, Kansas, jail pending extradition to Missouri.

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