Leon Jordan

Courtesy of LaBudde Special Collections, UMKC.

Three years ago, Kansas City police re-opened one of the most vexing cold cases in local history. It was the 1970 murder of politician and civil rights leader Leon Jordan. The case was re-opened after an investigation by Kansas City Star reporters Mike McGraw and Glenn Rice.  McGraw told us what one of the original detectives told him about the 40-year-old case.

“'I can’t remember a case with less info, more blind alleys, more possible motives, and more possible suspects than the Leon Jordan murder,'” said McGraw, quoting detective Lloyd DeGraffenreid. 

Courtesy of LaBudde Special Collections, UMKC.

Kansas City has now had two African American mayors and black elected officials in city, county and state government. But this progress did not happen by chance. 

Kansas City, MO – For the past few months, KC Currents has been following the recently re-opened murder case of Leon Jordan. He helped found Kansas City's African American political organization Freedom, Incorporated. In his role at Freedom, he paved the way for the first African Americans to be elected to the city council and the Missouri State Assembly, himself becoming a representative in 1964. And Jordan was instrumental in the passage of a 1962 public accommodations ordinance, which outlawed segregation in Kansas City.

Kansas City, MO – This summer, Kansas City police re-opened an unsolved murder case from 1970. Leon Jordan was a pioneering local politician and civil rights leader. 40 years after he was gunned down outside the bar he owned, Jordan's murder remains one of the most vexing mysteries in Kansas City history.

Kansas City, MO – This summer, Kansas City Missouri police re-opened an unsolved murder case from 40 years ago. The victim was one of their own: former police lieutenant and state representative Leon Jordan. Jordan was gunned down outside his tavern on July 15, 1970.

Jordan was a key figure in the local civil rights movement, and helped consolidate black political power in Kansas City.

Over the years, there's been many theories about who killed Leon Jordan, and some concern that dredging up the case could tarnish his legacy.

photo courtesy aaregistry.com

The unsolved 1970 murder of Kansas City black political leader Leon Jordan is back in the hands of a detective squad. And KCUR has learned of new developments that might enhance chances of solving the murder after all these years. It revolves around crime lab science being done in Topeka. KCUR's Dan Verbeck has the story.