An average of two people every week were killed this year in Kansas City, Missouri. The city's body count stood at 113 as of press time, with four days remaining in 2011. That's seven more than last year's total, a number that surpasses the homicide totals in 2009, 2007, 2004, 2003 and 2002.
This wasn't a surprise, unfortunately. In the three years that The Pitch has tracked the city's slayings with the Killa City project, the numbing statistic has hit triple digits. In 2009, KC saw 110 homicides; last year, the number was 106. There have been more than 100 homicides each year since 2005 with the exception of 2007, when there were 94.
The darkest moments of the year appeared to be a 10-hour span on the weekend of November 11, when Kansas City police opened investigations on six new homicides. One crime scene was a triple homicide that claimed, as one of its victims, a friend of newly sworn-in police chief Darryl Forté's. That Saturday morning, Forté announced that he had dispatched additional police officers throughout the city. It was a savage 10 hours.
The following look back at another hard year in Killa City reveals many equally staggering moments. The list is incomplete, but not because some killings touched fewer people or had less power to shock. These are the cases that, when we set out to compile the statistics below, made us angry all over again.
Killer Tags Gang Name at Crime Scene
Earthy Huff Jr.'s killer didn't try to cover his tracks. The shooter spray-painted the words "12th ST F1 WAS HER(E) 5ACE2" on the snow-covered concrete driveway at 3523 Garfield where 55-year-old Huff was mortally wounded January 18.
A family member of Huff's told detectives that "F1" was a Five Ace Deuce gang member who used the nickname "Knuckles." Behind all the nicknames, they say, is 18-year-old Jerrim Johnson, who has "F1" tattooed on his neck. The family member told detectives that Johnson and Huff's son were engaged in an ongoing feud.
Detectives were just a quick Google search from finding a website with photos of Johnson calling himself "F1" and "Knuckles." The Pitch also found the info on blackplanet.com, where the user writes that he's from "Killa City and clearly spells out his identity: '5AceDeuce knuckles A.K.A. F1 that's Me Frm 51street Euclid M.O.B. THE Boss OF 51street Gangs.' "
Authorities arrested Johnson at his parents' home and found a 9 mm handgun in his bed. The soles of his shoes matched footprints found near Huff's body and the graffiti. Johnson is charged with second-degree murder and armed criminal action.
Teen Killed Following Dance Party
Orlando Smith ran for his life in a parking lot after a teen dance party. Witnesses told police that they saw Bruce Cunningham and Roland Wayne Mitchell III chasing the 19-year-old and firing a handgun.
Smith's body was found in a parking lot near 15th Street and Holmes around 1 a.m. January 17.
As many as 200 people were at the party. Witnesses said a confrontation involving four black males led to the killing, and they identified Cunningham and Mitchell as the shooters. After Smith's shooting, Cunningham and Mitchell met up with a group of people at IHOP in Grandview, court records say.
Cunningham and Mitchell are both charged with second-degree murder and armed criminal action.
Did Yuri Ives Meet His Killer on Craigslist?
Court records are discreet and don't reveal what Yuri Ives and the teen charged with his slaying, 17-year-old Ali Cubba, discussed after meeting on Craigslist, but they do say Cubba's intentions weren't pure.
Ives, a 48-year-old realtor, was found dead inside his renovated Northeast-neighborhood mansion February 28. He had died from multiple gunshot wounds and cuts. Court documents say a second suspect, 18-year-old Zachary Kimbrell, admitted driving Cubba to Ives' home so that Cubba could rob him. Kimbrell told police that he knew Cubba was armed with a knife. And when Cubba came back to Kimbrell's vehicle, he was "covered in blood and carrying a gun." Cubba allegedly told Kimbrell that he had stabbed Ives but ended up cutting his own hand.
The plan, according to Kimbrell, was to sell Ives' handgun.
Detectives investigating the scene found a knife sheath near a fence and a knife with blood on it. Ives' cell phone, wallet and silver revolver were missing. But detectives found a cell phone at the crime scene and checked the last number called, which went to a number belonging to Cubba. Detectives checked Ives' computer and found e-mails between Ives and Cubba, agreeing to meet at Ives' home on the night of the killing.
Police searched Cubba's home March 2 and found a silver .44-caliber revolver in his bedroom.
Cubba and Kimbrell are charged with second-degree murder, first-degree robbery and two felony counts of armed criminal action.
Man Killed at 5-Year-Old's Birthday Party
DeAnthony Clemons was shooting hoops with friends at a 5-year-old's birthday party April 8. Someone sneaked up beside the home, near 114th Street and Delmar, and started shooting. Clemons, 17, tried to run but was struck. He died at the scene. Police are still looking for his killer.
Teen Killed After High School Graduation
Hours after he graduated from Paseo Academy, Cortez Williams was shot and killed.
Williams, 18, was found slumped over the wheel of a green Honda Passport at 4828 East 40th Terrace around 8:27 p.m. May 22. He was rushed to a hospital, where he later died.
Terry Smith, 19, told detectives that he believed he was responsible for Williams' death. Smith explained that a dispute over a stolen gun led him to fire shots into a black SUV. He said he kept firing as the Honda driven by Williams passed into his line of fire. Smith said he didn't know that he had shot anyone when he fled the scene. He's charged with second-degree murder, unlawful use of a weapon and armed criminal action.
Child Killed By Stray Bullet on Independence Day
Blair Shanahan Lane, 11 years old, was celebrating the Fourth of July at her uncle's home, near 43rd Street and Pittman, when she was struck in the neck and killed by a stray bullet.
The bullet was fired by 50-year-old Aaron Sullivan, who was a security guard at the Whispering Lakes Apartment Complex. Sullivan pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter December 1, admitting that he fired the gun and also allowed three friends to shoot it. His sentencing is slated for February 3.
Lane's killing has led Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker to ask Missouri lawmakers to pass Blair's Law, making it a felony (with a few exceptions) to fire a gun within city limits.
Killing Outside Chubby's
A double shooting outside Chubby's restaurant, at 3756 Broadway, left one person dead and another in critical condition July 21. Police received reports of the shooting at 2:34 a.m. Anthony Hill, 30, was found shot to death in the midtown diner's parking lot. Witnesses reported seeing an argument and hearing several gunshots.
Man Killed Five Days After Getting Married
Ron James had married his longtime girlfriend five days before he was shot in the head and killed in the afternoon of August 3. James, 35, was driving near 58th Street and Euclid when, according to witnesses, someone in a gold Chevy Impala opened fire on James' vehicle, which crashed into a tree. James died behind the wheel.
Lloyd Houston was found naked, bloody and covered in feces in an upstairs bedroom of his home August 8. The 93-year-old was confused and disoriented. Two handguns and a large amount of cash were missing from his home.
Houston was taken to a hospital and later transferred to an extended-care facility. His condition improved, but he experienced breathing problems August 29 and died a day later.
The Jackson County Medical Examiner's Office ruled Houston's death a homicide due to a head injury with complications.
A month later, a witness told police that 41-year-old Lisa Wilson had admitted stealing guns and money from Houston. In an interview with police, Wilson told a sordid tale of sex for money and betrayal. Wilson said she saw Houston sitting on his porch. Three times before, she had traded sex for money. On this day, Houston agreed to pay $60 for sex. Wilson said they went inside Houston's home, and she went into a bathroom. When she came out, Houston was holding a handgun and demanding his money back.
Wilson said she gave Houston the money. She said he told her to take off her clothes, and he set down the handgun. Wilson ran. Houston, naked but unarmed, chased her. Wilson reached the front door but hit Houston with a lamp. She wasn't sure how many times she hit him, but it was more than once. Wilson admitted running upstairs and taking Houston's guns and an envelope with $700-$800 inside. She is charged with second-degree murder and armed criminal action.
Stray Bullet Kills Bystander Trying to Protect Children
Samir Clark, 19, was in the wrong place at the wrong time on August 16, when someone opened fire near his cousin's apartment, in the 6400 block of Northeast 43rd Street. Two men were arguing outside the building around 11 p.m. The situation escalated, and Clark and his cousin, who weren't involved in the dispute, went inside the apartment. Soon they heard a knock on the door and a woman saying, "Let my kids in." Clark and his cousin rushed the woman and her children into a bathroom when shots were fired. A bullet struck Clark in the neck.
Clark was a 2010 graduate of University Academy, where he was a standout athlete and an Eagle Scout. He also played football at Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa. He was preparing to transfer to Tennessee State University to play football and study for a degree in physical therapy.
Man Kills Mother-in-Law
Michael Tittone told detectives that he shot his mother-in-law, Pamela Graves, in the abdomen August 22 after the 52-year-old woman punched him. Graves' body was found in the kitchen of a home in the 3500 block of St. John. She was rushed to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Tittone, 27, was charged with second-degree murder and armed criminal action.
Man Shot 22 Times at Car Wash
Jose Jenkins was shot 22 times at a car wash at 42nd Street and Prospect September 25. Jackson County prosecutors charged 34-year-old Timothy McClendon with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in Jenkins' death. Court records say surveillance cameras captured Jenkins initiating a gunfight with McClendon, who returned fire and hit Jenkins.
Jenkins, wounded, couldn't get to his feet. Police say McClendon walked to his tan Subaru, reloaded his gun and fired multiple shots at Jenkins. McClendon is accused of then getting in his vehicle, driving up to Jenkins' body and firing again. McClendon then allegedly backed up the car and fired more shots before finally driving off.
According to court records, McClendon didn't know who was shooting at him, but he admitted returning fire.
Friend of New Police Chief's Killed in Triple Homicide
A month after Kansas City Police Chief Darryl Forté was sworn in, the chief's best friend was killed in a triple homicide November 11 near 24th Street and Lister.
Police say Derek Hubbard killed his estranged girlfriend, Stephanie Brown, along with Anthony Richardson and Richardson's wife, Mary. According to statements, Hubbard argued with Brown and Anthony Richardson inside the Richardsons' home while trying to force Brown to leave with him. Richardson came to Brown's defense, and a fight ensued. Richardson's son told police that he saw Hubbard shoot his father twice in the chest, shoot Brown twice in the head at close range, and shoot his mother once in the mouth.
Hubbard, 46, turned himself in. Asked why he was surrendering, Hubbard replied, "For whatever." He's charged with first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder, three counts of armed criminal action and a count of first-degree robbery.
Crackhead "Put Out of His Misery"
Bronson Joyce told detectives that he committed a double homicide for two reasons: (1) One of the victims was infected with AIDS and was spreading the disease to multiple partners, and (2) the other victim was a crack user.
Joyce, 19, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the double homicide of 42-year-old Alphonso Nicholson and 61-year-old Claude Carson, who were found shot to death inside an apartment near East 25th Street and Benton November 12.
A witness told police that Joyce sold crack cocaine to Nicholson and an unidentified woman. Court records say Joyce shot the woman in the left arm and shot Nicholson six times in the chest. Joyce then went inside the apartment and shot Carson three times.
Joyce admitted to detectives that he had planned for more than a month to kill Nicholson. He explained that Nicholson had AIDS and was having unprotected sex with multiple partners. Joyce added that he killed Carson because he was a witness, couldn't be trusted and was a crack-cocaine user. "I had to put him out of his misery," Joyce told police.
Joyce is also charged with three counts of armed criminal action and one count of first-degree assault.
Joseph Jackson worked at Barbershop 67 to support his brother, who has a mental disability. Jackson, 53, was fatally shot November 16 during a robbery at the shop, near East 34th Street and Troost. He was found bleeding on the shop's floor next to money and spent shell casings around 6:10 p.m.
Security cameras led police to a nearby apartment complex. They followed drops of blood to an upstairs apartment, where they found 19-year-old Georgio White and 22-year-old David Waters. White and Waters had been seen in the video trying to clean up the blood, court records say.
White told detectives that he and Waters waited until the last customer left the shop, then went in and asked for haircuts. White then demanded money from Jackson, who took out his cash but grabbed White's left arm. Police say White pulled a gun, shot Jackson and accidentally shot himself in the arm.
Prosecutors charged White and Waters with second-degree murder, first-degree attempted robbery and two counts of armed criminal action.
Convicted Killer Turned Anti-Violence Counselor Slain
Terrance Jackson joined Aim4Peace in March. The 43-year-old had spent nearly 21 years in prison after a conviction for killing a 17-year-old in a 1988 drive-by shooting. The Kansas City Star reported that Jackson converted to Islam in prison. He was paroled in September 2010 and joined the anti-violence group to work as a gang mediator. Jackson was shot to death November 18 in the parking lot of the Epicurean Lounge, at 75th Street and Troost. His killing remains unsolved.
Homicide Victim No. 100
On November 19, Rickey King became Kansas City, Missouri's 100th homicide victim of 2011. King, 17, was killed at Blue Hills Park at 53rd Street and Brooklyn. King was with three friends when someone with an assault rifle opened fire on them around 10:15 p.m. King and another person were struck. A backseat passenger steered the car, which crashed into a fire hydrant at 53rd and Prospect.
King was a Boy Scout on the verge of receiving several new badges. He was on track to graduate in May from Southwest Early College Campus, where he was involved in ROTC. He played sports and tutored junior high school students. He had talked about joining the Navy after graduation and returning to Kansas City after his service to become a police officer.
Thanksgiving Triple Homicide
Jerry Petty is suspected of killing his wife and two other people on Thanksgiving Day before Kansas City police fatally shot him. Loretta Petty, 53, and Deja Davis, her 16-year-old goddaughter, were found dead in the Pettys' home, near 66th Street and Bellefontaine.
Davis' mother sent her son to check on Davis, who had missed dinner and hadn't been heard from all day. The Kansas City Star reported that when Davis' brother arrived at the Pettys' home, Jerry Petty, 64, was inside (apparently attempting to make the killings look like a burglary gone awry). Davis' brother called police after seeing a broken window.
Police encountered Jerry Petty inside the home. Petty opened fire on officers, who returned fire and killed Petty.
Deja Davis was a junior at Ruskin High School, where she was on the debate team. She was visiting Loretta Petty to help her cook.
Jerry Petty is also believed to have killed 56-year-old Denise Hall, who was found dead at 2916 East 69th Street on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, while robbing her for money to buy crack, according to the Star. Police believe Hall was killed a couple of days before the discovery of her body. She was an acquaintance of Petty's.
ELSEWHERE IN THE METRO
Red Roof Inn Triple Homicide
Armin Hamidovic was sitting next to Isaac Perdomo-Paz's ex-girlfriend on a bed at a Red Roof Inn February 26. This didn't go over well with Perdomo-Paz, 18. He argued with Hamidovic, lifted his shirt, pulled a black handgun from his waistband and pointed it at Hamidovic.
Perdomo-Paz allegedly shot Hamidovic in the head before also killing Dejan Joksimovic and Delfino Elizondo, who were also shot in the head.
The three homicide victims had been partying in Independence before moving to the Northland Red Roof Inn. Police were called to the hotel room at 3:19 a.m., where they found Hamidovic, 18, next to the door to the room. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.
Joksimovic, 18, was dead at the scene. His body was slumped over in a chair next to a bed. Elizondo, 22, was lying on another bed in the room. He was taken to a hospital; the father of two was removed from life support early the next day.
Five .380-caliber automatic shell casings were found in the room. Clay County authorities charged Perdomo-Paz with three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of armed criminal action.
Skateboarding Feud Ends With Death of Teen
Ryder Spillman was looking for a fight April 23. Spillman, 16, went alone to Thomas A. Edison Elementary School in Kansas City, Kansas. He was there to meet Stephen and Shane Reed. The Reed cousins were waiting in a vehicle when they spotted Spillman.
Stephen, 17, says he believed that Spillman was armed. Shane handed Stephen a gun, and Stephen fired at Spillman, who was running toward their vehicle. Spillman wasn't armed. The bullet struck Spillman in the heart, killing him. His body was found the next day.
In August, Shane Reed was sentenced to 18 months in a juvenile correctional facility for his role in the killing. He had previously pleaded guilty to aiding a felon and to possession of a firearm by a juvenile.
In September, a Wyandotte County jury convicted Stephen Reed of second-degree murder for killing Spillman. He was sentenced to more than 13 years in prison.
Theresa Reed, Stephen's mother, told KSHB Channel 41 that her son told her the killing was an accident. She explained that the Reed boys were members of a group of Shawnee Mission East High School students called "the new mafia" who weren't on friendly terms with Spillman, who was a member of a rival group of skateboarders from Shawnee Mission North High School who called themselves "Ro-Po." The two groups had clashed at skate parks in Roeland Park and Prairie Village.
Husband of 16-Year-Old Girl Says He Killed Her Lover
Justin Cannon told detectives that he killed Michael Griggs because he believed that Griggs had been sleeping with his 16-year-old wife while he was serving in the U.S. Army.
Cannon's wife, Amber, was found dead in a Grandview motel room July 27. The Jackson County Medical examiner ruled that Amber's death was caused by acute drug intoxication. Her family believes that she overdosed on a drug called "blueberry." Amber's parents told KCTV Channel 5 that they didn't believe Amber had been sleeping with Griggs.
Amber married Cannon in March, the month that she turned 16. She would have been a junior at Belton High School in the fall. Cannon, 21, was stationed in Italy and returned to the Kansas City area for Amber's funeral.
On July 30, at Truman Lake, he confronted Griggs, who was camping there. Cannon told detectives that he sneaked up on the 24-year-old the next morning when Griggs went to use the bathroom. Cannon said he hit Griggs in the back of the head with a rock and dumped Griggs' body in the lake to hide it. An hour later, he reportedly told fellow campers that Griggs was missing.
Prosecutors in St. Clair County charged Cannon with first-degree murder and armed criminal action.
Murder-Suicide at Overland Park Shooting Range
The Bullet Hole shooting range was the scene of a murder-suicide September 6. Police believe that Victor Ocampo, 42, killed Bambi Hilburn, 38, before turning the gun on himself.
Ocampo and Hilburn were a couple, according to Ocampo's Facebook page. They had reportedly met on a dating website and had been together for a couple of months. Hilburn was a mother of two daughters, ages 5 and 16.
The homicide was the first in Overland Park since 2009.
Man Who Beat Three Murder Charges Killed in Kansas City, Kansas
Markus Lee beat three murder raps in eight years. But on a Sunday evening in late October, the 27-year-old was found shot to death in the 1000 block of Ann Avenue in KCK. Authorities believe that Lee had strong ties to East Side gangs.
Profiled by The Pitch in November 2010, Lee admitted: "I'm not trying to tell you I have a halo and angel wings. I might have half a wing. I'm not disputing that I'm a street dude, but I'm not this monster they try to say I am. Does it make me a bad guy because I'm from where I'm from?"
In June, Lee was sentenced to 120 days of "shock time" for resisting arrest and leading police on a 10-minute chase in a Prius.
KILLA CITY CASES RESOLVED
Joseph Hendrix paid his older brother, Matthew Hendrix, an extra $20 from money stolen during the murder of Kansas City businessman Michael Tutera. Joseph Hendrix, 17, pleaded guilty in January to his role in the killing. He was sentenced to 14 years for second-degree murder, three years for armed criminal action and 12 years for burglary. The trigger man, Matthew Hendrix, received a 25-year sentence. His total take from the murder: $60.
Andrew Eli and Justin Budreau
Eria Doss asked a Kansas City police detective, who was questioning him about the homicides of Andrew Eli and Justin Budreau, "How long am I gonna be down here?" The answer: life times two.
Doss, 19, was sentenced in May to two consecutive life sentences for the April 2009 execution-style slayings in an apartment near 59th Street and Tracy. In February, a Jackson County jury convicted Doss of two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of first-degree robbery and four counts of armed criminal action.
Doss told investigators that he, Larry Marshall and Michael Gunn went to Eli's apartment because the "white boys" had good weed and wouldn't be armed. In a videotaped interview, Doss told a homicide detective that Gunn "wasn't supposed to kill 'em." Doss said Gunn ordered the men to lie facedown on the floor while Doss searched a bedroom for marijuana. He found a small sack and was on his way out of the bedroom when the sound of two gunshots made his ears ring. In December 2010, a jury convicted Gunn of two counts of second-degree murder, four counts of armed criminal action and two counts of first-degree robbery. He was sentenced to 50 years in prison. Marshall pleaded guilty in December 2010 to two counts of second-degree murder, two counts of first-degree robbery and four counts of armed criminal action. He received a 16-year sentence.
In September, a jury found Stanford Griswold not guilty of involuntary manslaughter for throwing the punch October 10, 2010, that killed Brian Euston in Westport. A drunk Euston — his blood-alcohol level was .387 — had tried to talk to Griswold and Griswold's girlfriend outside America's Pub around closing time. Griswold and his girlfriend told Euston multiple times to leave. Euston wouldn't go away. Griswold's girlfriend testified that she felt threatened by Euston, who asked Griswold, "Why do you want me to leave? Is it because I'm white?" Griswold punched Euston in the mouth, causing him to fall and hit his head on the pavement. Euston died October 12.
Former pastor David Love pleaded guilty in November to second-degree murder charges in the death of one of his parishioners, Randy Stone, and was sentenced to life in prison. Love won't be eligible for parole for more than 25 years. Stone, 42, was found shot to death in March 2010 inside his Farmers Insurance office. Stone's family members believed that his wife, Teresa, was having an affair with Love, who was the pastor of New Hope Baptist Church, where the Stones were members. Love had delivered the eulogy at Stone's funeral. A grand jury indicted Teresa Stone, 39, earlier this year on charges of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, alleging that she had conspired with Love to kill her husband.