Brianna Ibarra, a 13-year-old girl from Wichita, Kansas, died on Saturday, February 6 after being dragged while trying to escape from her family’s SUV that had been stolen while she was still inside. According to a press release from the Wichita Police Department, 34-year-old Kevin Palmer of Wichita, who authorities said stole the vehicle, was arrested after the incident and charged with felony murder.
The press release stated that Ibarra’s family parked the Ford Escape at a restaurant just before noon on February 6 and went inside to pick up their food, leaving the vehicle running and Ibarra in the back seat on the driver’s side. Palmer then jumped into the driver’s seat and fled the scene.
Ibarra became entangled in the seatbelt on the outside of the door when she attempted to flee the moving vehicle and was dragged for “several miles,” the Wichita Police Department’s press release indicated.
Authorities Were Called by a Witness Who Followed the Vehicle & They Later Said Palmer Has Multiple Prior Convictions
The Wichita Police Department said they first received a call from a witness who said a grey Ford Escape was “traveling westbound on Kellogg at Meridian dragging a female.” They said the witness called 911 and followed the vehicle.
Officers who responded to the scene said Palmer stopped the vehicle at Kellogg and West Street and fled on foot before he was caught and arrested. Responding officers also found the Ford Escape “with a 13-year-old female caught on the outside of the vehicle and pronounced deceased.”
Police Chief Gordon Ramsay said, “This is one of the saddest cases I have been associated with in my over 28 years of law enforcement. WPD sends its thoughts and prayers to family, friends, and others affected by this tragic incident.” The investigation is ongoing and authorities have also revealed that Palmer has multiple prior convictions for felony crimes. He is currently in custody at the Sedgwick County Jail on several charges, including first-degree murder, public records show.
Ibarra Was Remembered by Her Family as a ‘Beautiful Soul’ Who Was ‘Full of Life’
Ibarra’s family spoke to KAKE TV and described their loss as “a tragedy that no family should have to go through.” Her older sister Marissa Ibarra said the 13-year-old was “Weird in her own way that made her a beautiful soul.” She said Ibarra “loved to create” and was “easy and fun to be around. She was bright, carefree, straightforward, family-oriented, strong, would do anything for (her) family, affectionate.”
Her parents explained that she was “full of life” and she “always made everybody laugh, loved her family (and) was always up for any adventure.” They said the community has been extremely supportive of the grieving family and a GoFundMe account set up by family friends and shared by KAKE TV has already raised over $35,000.
It states, “A close friend suffered the loss of a child, very unexpectedly. We are fundraising to assist with various expenses associated with the funeral, burial, and any other expenses needed until this family can get back on their feet and back to work.”