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Detective, county’s only female deputy, is leaving

Staff writer

Marion County’s only female law enforcement officer, sheriff’s investigator Wilma Mueller, is moving after 6 ½ years to be closer to family members in Colorado.

Her last day on duty will be Aug. 2.

Previous experience as a social worker gave her insight into child abuse and neglect and sexual assault cases as a deputy.

She had worked on Marion County cases previously while with the Kansas Department of Children and Family Services.

“My primary caseload was working with Marion County families,” she said.

Hired as a detective, she’s done road patrol and investigations of burglaries, assaults, and abuse cases — the gamut of what a deputy does.

After she applied to become a sheriff’s investigator here, the county sent her to Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center to get law enforcement credentials.

Her first year, she grew frustrated because she wasn’t solving cases as quickly as she wanted.

“Then one tip led to solving three burglaries,” Mueller said.

Any case that requires long-term monitoring has gone to her desk.

A recent case gave her special satisfaction. It was resolving a multi-state crime spree that included $94,000 in stolen and damaged property at the home of county residents Merle and Michelle Flaming on Christmas day.

When Allen Dean Washburn, 35, of Kingman, Arizona, was arrested on suspicion of this and several other crimes, Mueller got to call the Flamings.

“I remember calling Mr. and Mrs. Flaming that night and saying, ‘You can rest easy; the suspect has been arrested,’” Mueller said.

Another recent case that gives her satisfaction is resolving a March hay bale and field fire near Lost Springs. The suspect, Ramona Fire Chief Alan Bentz, was formally charged with arson this month.

Handling sexual assault and abuse cases also has been satisfying.

“That’s one of the things I was trained well for with DCF,” Mueller said.

She is moving to Ignacio, Colorado, where she will be a case manager with the Southern Ute tribe.

The job will bring her closer to her younger son and her daughter.

“I’ll have six of the seven youngest grandchildren,” she said.

Mueller has a total of 15 grandchildren.

Her new salary will be sufficient that her husband, Dan, will be able to retire from his job in the maintenance department of Presbyterian Manor at Newton, but that doesn’t make the transition easy.

“Giving up this job has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” she said. “I never thought I’d leave Marion County.”

Last modified July 26, 2017

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