homicide

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

"Mr. Townsend...you couldn't find a better person than that person," says Lola Madrigal, remembering her friend Jimmy Townsend, the late owner of the Green Duck Lounge in Kansas City.

Madrigal joined a big group of Townsend's friends and family across the street from his club on Saturday to celebrate his birthday by carrying on one of his favorite traditions.

"For three days, as long as I can remember, forty years or more. Just fed everybody, anybody who would come through — free. Three days, every year for his birthday," says Abel Titsworth, a close friend of Townsend. 

Tex Texin / Wikimedia -- CC

Kansas City’s murder rate is getting a lot of attention.

The number of lives lost to murder in Kansas City, Missouri, spiked 40 percent between 2014 and 2015.  And that put the murder rate at 23 per 100,000 residents — among the nation’s leaders, according to FBI data released last month.  

Since becoming a Kansas City, Missouri police officer in the 1950s, Alvin Brooks has spent a lifetime working to reduce crime and injustice in his city. Even as we look back at all he’s already done, we ask the equal rights activist what Kansas City still needs to do.

On Tuesday, Alvin Brooks was awarded at lifetime achievement award from the South Kansas City Alliance. He is also this year's recipient of the Truman Public Service Award.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The father of a toddler who died last week after accidentally shooting herself with his gun has been charged with second degree murder, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker announced Wednesday.

Courtenay Block, 24, told police he was sleeping when his 2-year-old daughter shot herself in the head April 21.

“Children are not responsible for their own safety,” Baker said at a news conference. “That’s our job. Your job and mine.”

Courtesy

The Wyandotte County District Attorney’s office announced Thursday that it had filed charges in a case that has stumped authorities for 27 years.

Melvin Shields, 48, of Wichita, was charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of Steve Ray, 33, and Jolene Jones, 27.

Ray and Jones, who were described as long-time friends who had a daughter together, went to lunch on April 27, 1988 and their bodies were found at 19th and Argentine streets the next day.

Montgomery County Jail

U.S. Reps. Kevin Yoder and Blaine Luetkemeyer want answers after a Mexican man allegedly murdered five people in Kansas and Missouri last week.

Pablo Serrano-Vitorino, 40, is accused of killing four people in Kansas City, Kansas, March 7 before leading law enforcement on a cross-state manhunt that ended after a fifth murder in Montgomery County, Missouri.

“Mistakes were certainly made on a variety of levels,” says Yoder. “You have immigration and customs officials having multiple opportunities to detain this man and not being able to do so.”

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Wyandotte County District Attorney Jerry Gorman wants first crack at prosecuting Pablo Serrano-Vitorino, the Mexican man accused of killing four people in Kansas City, Kansas, Monday night.

Kansas City, Kansas, police found Michael Capps, 41; Jeremy Waters, 36; Clint Harter, 27; and Austin Harter, 29, at a home on South 36th Street in what Gorman described as a “rural” location.

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

Frustrations ran high at the Citizen Task Force on Violence's first listening session Saturday morning, as several dozen Kansas Citians spoke out on how to curb violence in the city.

William Thomas, a probation officer in Johnson County, summed up what many of the attendees want out of the task force: a concerted effort before its self-imposed November deadline.

Kansas City’s new Citizen Task Force on Violence is up and rolling as it confronts the difficult question of why there’s so much violence in the metro. The committee had its first meeting last week, amid another spike in homicides in recent weeks.

Guests:

KMBC

Kansas City Police Chief Darryl Forté is starting the year with his hands full, after another streak of violent crime.

So far, the city has seen eight homicides in the first ten days of January. This, following a particularly deadly end of 2015.

“I’ve been concerned (about violence) my entire life as a young male growing up in Kansas City," Forté told host Steve Kraske on Up to Date. "I stay awake at night I think, ‘Darryl what else can you do?’” 

Dan Verbeck / KCUR

None of the houses Kansas City Councilwoman Alissia Canady lived in growing up east of Troost are occupied.

Most of the schools she attended have closed.

“When you look at the areas where violent crime is occurring, you see vacant and abandoned houses, high concentrations of poverty, lack of basic resources and poor education,” Canady said Tuesday at the first meeting of the Citizens Task Force Against Violence. “It’s almost like it’s the formula for violence.”

Canady grew up in the Third District and now represents the Fifth.

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

Dozens of families who've suffered loss due to homicide came to the Lucile Bluford branch of the Kansas City Public Library for gifts, food and support Saturday. 

The AdHoc Group Against Crime and Laura E. Mason Foundation organized the Toys for Tots event to help children suffering after the death of loved ones. Organizer Nae-na Oliver has personal experience dealing with homicide and the influence it can have on kids.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Kansas City Mayor Sly James recited a list of wins for the city at a press conference Wednesday.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker describes the Kansas City No Violence Alliance not as a program, but as a “mission shift” for how the city tackles violence.

“We don’t expect 40 years of violence to recede in one year or two years or three years,” Peters Baker says.

Peters Baker, along with Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Sly James and several of NoVA’s partners will testify before the U.S. Senate Law Enforcement Caucus in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

The Jackson County Prosecutor has charged a 22-year-old Kansas City man in last week’s triple homicide.

Jean Peters Baker says multiple witnesses linked Joseph L. Nelson to the Sept. 8 murders of Bianca Fletcher, her 1-year-old son and boyfriend, Shannon Rollins.

Kansas City police are investigating a shooting that took the lives of three people Tuesday night in south Kansas City, one of them an infant. This is the fourth deadly shooting in the city in the past week.

Cody Newill / KCUR

Activists and LGBT community members held a memorial service for Tamara Dominguez, a 36-year-old transgender, Latina woman who was brutally run over three times in a parking lot Aug. 15. 

Dozens showed up to the service in Westport, which was organized by the Kansas City Anti-Violence Project and Una Lucha KC. Many placed red roses, a favorite of Dominguez's, on a pedestal next to an alter covered in candles and pictures.

Cody Newill / KCUR

Kris Wade remembers 33-year-old Jasmine Collins, as a "young person, out there, struggling to survive on her own." 

Collins, a transgender woman, was stabbed to death in June.

Wade had known Collins for about a year as part of the Justice Project, a non-profit that provides advocacy and services to transgender women in poverty, among others.

Kansas Department of Health and Environment has received a federal grant of almost $1 million to help the CDC develop strategies to reduce the number of violent deaths, and the state will share homicide and suicide data with the National Violent Death Reporting System for five years.

The system delves into not just how these deaths happen, but why. It collects data on homicides such as the relationship between the victim and the suspect. In cases of suicide, it gathers details on depression, financial stress, and relationship problems.

An Independence, Missouri woman and a Kansas City, Kansas man have become the third and fourth people charged in a triple murder during an Independence home invasion.

Google Earth

Two men and a woman have been murdered in an Independence, Missouri home invasion and police have a partial description of the killers, saying that a surviving victim was able to describe the attackers.

The Kansas City (Missouri) Police Department searched far and wide for a new chief last year. Finally, they chose from within its ranks: Darryl Forté.

Tuesday on Up to Date, Steve Kraske welcomed Chief Forté to talk about Kansas City's consistently-high homicide rate, community policing, and his background.