HUMBOLDT, Kan. – When Carolyn Moore answered the light knock on her front door Sunday night, she was greeted by a boy wearing only burgundy underwear and holding a shotgun.
"There stood this poor, scared half-naked little boy saying 'Help me, help me. Hide me. They're after me,'" Moore said. "I could see the fear in his eye. He said, 'They're going to get me and spank me hard.'"
On Wednesday, Allen County authorities said the 10-year-old boy was charged with first-degree murder in the shotgun slaying of his father. Robert D. Hamlin (search), 43, was found dead Sunday night at his home near Humboldt.
"The child said, 'I done something really bad,'" Moore said, recalling their conversation. "And I said, `What did you do?'
"He said, 'I shot my dad.'"
The boy, whose name was not released, was charged as a juvenile and could be held until age 23 if convicted. A closed juvenile court hearing was conducted in the county seat of Iola, eight miles north of Humboldt, and a judge ordered the case sealed.
The father, according to Moore, "would do anything in the world for you. He was an extremely hard worker and took care of his family." She said he worked at a local factory.
Hamlin was sitting on the living-room couch when he was shot in the back of the head with a 20-gauge pump shotgun.
His wife, Debbie, and two younger children fled to another neighbor after the shooting. Two other children were coming out of the house when deputies arrived, Sheriff Tom Williams said. He said he did not know the other children's ages.
The boy then walked up the road to Moore's home, carrying the shotgun with one unfired shell, authorities said.
"We believe it to be the weapon and we'll be testing evidence to show conclusively that it was the shotgun," Williams said before the hearing Wednesday. "We are investigating this as a criminal offense. We are looking at anything that relates to motive."
The boy did not stand out at Humboldt Elementary School (search), according to School Superintendent Bob Heigele.
"He fit in well with our school and he didn't have any more problems than any other student in the fourth grade," Heigele said. "He was a typical boy. I saw him around and it appeared he was well-liked."
Until now, this town of nearly 2,000 was known mainly as the birthplace of pitching legend Walter "Big Train" Johnson, inducted in the National Baseball Hall of Fame (search) in 1936.
It's a quiet town where people have trouble remembering the last murder. Some say it was in the 1960s; other think it was earlier.
Many residents expressed sympathy for the boy, as well as the family.
"The little guy did something really wrong, but he needs help," said liquor store owner Janie Hutson. "He probably needs treatment more than he needs punishment."