"I don't want (people) to remember this bad thing," Tara Umbarger said of the killings. "It wasn't that she was a bad person — she just somehow ... got mixed up with him somehow."
More than 100 law enforcement officers, canine search teams and an aircraft from numerous agencies were involved in the search for the suspect, which quickly focused on Independence where he works at a roofing firm, Smith said.
Officers spotted Bennett walking along the street about a block from the local hospital and arrested him at gunpoint. His clothes were soaking wet and frozen when he was found in the frigid evening temperatures — a low of 18 degrees.
The Kansas attorney general's office has said it would prosecute any ensuing case.
Police learned Cami Umbarger was missing after co-workers called police Monday when she didn't show up for work, facility administrator Joanna Wilson told The Wichita Eagle. Umbarger was a licensed practical nurse who worked at the Good Samaritan Society, a nursing home in Parsons, a town of about 10,500 residents southeast of Wichita.
Parsons schools called in extra counselors to talk to students and staff about the deaths of the children, identified as 9-year-old Hollie Betts, 6-year-old Jaxon Betts and 4-year-old Averie Betts.
"Obviously everyone is deeply saddened and shocked by the news of the death of our students and their mother. In a town the size of Parsons, this affects everyone," district superintendent Shelly Martin said.
A candlelight vigil is planned for 7 p.m. Wednesday in Parsons.
Funeral services are scheduled for Monday in Thayer for Umbarger and her children.