Man held over deaths of mother, 3 children has first court appearance but not yet charged

Charges haven't been filed yet against a 22-year-old man being held on $5 million bond in connection with the deaths of a southeast Kansas mother and her children.

Labette County District Judge Robert Fleming told David Cornell Bennett Jr. in court Monday that prosecutors have received additional time to file charges against him because of the Thanksgiving holiday and the complicated nature of the case, The Wichita Eagle reported.

The judge said he has found probable cause to continue holding Bennett in connection with the deaths of 29-year-old Cami Umbarger and her children, 9-year-old Hollie Betts, 6-year-old Jaxon Betts and 4-year-old Averie Betts. Their bodies were found in their Parsons home on Nov. 25, and authorities have not said how they died.

Fleming last week set a Dec. 10 deadline for filing charges but said in court Monday that they could come earlier. The Kansas attorney general's office is prosecuting the case, and spokesman Don Brown said in an email that "nothing beyond" the judge's deadline has been discussed.

Bennett, from Cherryvale, appeared Monday via a video feed from the jail in Oswego.

KWCH-TV reported that Bennett has filed paperwork to obtain a court-appointed attorney. He asked Fleming during the hearing whether he could be released on bond, but the judge reminded him of its size.

Bennett was arrested at gunpoint Nov. 26 in Independence, about 35 miles southwest of Parsons, where he worked a roofing job. Cherryvale is between the two communities.

A cousin told The Associated Press last week that Umbarger met Bennett in September and went out with him a couple of times.

During Monday's hearing, Bennett asked Fleming, "So I have a chance to present my case and so forth and have a fair chance like everyone else?"

Fleming told him he would, but he also advised Bennett not to discuss the substance of the case.

"This isn't the time for that," Fleming said.