Manhattan Man Sentenced for Involvement in Robbery, Deadly Arson

Frank Joseph Hanson, a 23-year-old Manhattan man, has been sentenced to 42 months behind bars for his involvement in the robbing of Dara’s Fast Lane in Manhattan, Kansas. The robbery took place on February 6, 2013 and was the first of several events that lead to a deadly arson in which a Kansas State University researcher lost her life.

Hanson admitted to robbing the convenience store, located at 1816 Claflin Road. As KMAN previously reported, Dennis Denzien, who was recently sentenced to 20 months for his involvement, drove Hanson to the store. Hanson, who was wearing a mask, robbed the store at gunpoint.

That same day two search warrants were issued for the residence where Denzien lived with another defendant, Patrick Scahill. The search yielded the finding of the mask, gloves, a backpack, and the firearm.

While officers worked to obtain the warrants, Hanson, Scahill, and defendant Virginia Griese, defendant Gavin Hairgrove, and another person met and discussed a plan to distract police before the unit would be able to search the residence.

Ultimately, the plan ended with Griese driving Scahill to Lee Crest Apartments at 820 Sunset Avenue. Scahill set a fire in a hallway, hoping to set focus to the complex, rather than Denzien’s residence, which was across the street. Complex resident and KSU researcher, Vasanta Pallem, was unable to exit to the building and died of smoke inhalation.

Scahill pleaded guilty to arson and has been sentenced to 360 months. Griese also pleaded guilty to arson and was sentenced to 240 months. Hairgrove awaits a trial, which is set for October 8.