Homicide Investigation in Cowley County


COWLEY COUNTY – The Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI), and the Cowley County Sheriff’s Office are investigating a homicide that took place Wednesday night at the Cowley State Fishing Lake.

The Cowley County Sheriff’s Office requested KBI assistance at approximately 8:15 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 22. KBI agents and the Crime Scene Response Team responded to investigate.

Just after 6 p.m. Wednesday night, the Cowley County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call reporting a shooting at the Cowley State Fishing Lake. Deputies responded to the Lake and conducted an extensive search with the reporting party in order to locate the victim.

At approximately 8 p.m., they discovered 37-year-old Joel Leon-Santos, of Arkansas City, who was suffering from gunshot wounds. Sheriff’s deputies and troopers from the Kansas Highway Patrol attempted life-saving measures but Leon-Santos died from his injuries. The coroner pronounced him dead at the scene.

Anyone with information related to this case is urged to call the KBI at 1-800-KS-CRIME. Tips can also be submitted anonymously online at:

Also assisting with this case is the Winfield Police Department and the Arkansas City Police Department.

An autopsy is scheduled. The investigation is ongoing.

Nothing further will be released at this time.

Derek Nester
Derek Nester
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2021 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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