A homicide scene tells a story, and the one at the Noland Road insurance office told Detective Keith Rosewaren: Randy Stone likely knew and trusted his killer.
Nowhere, in any of the offices, could police detect signs of a struggle. Not even a hint.
Stone appeared to have been ambushed shot in the head while he had his back turned.
The location argued against the killing being opportunistic random violence. Its highly unusual for someone to be gunned down during the day in a business on Noland Road, one of Independences busiest commercial streets.
And forget robbery. Detectives found $151 in cash sitting on a desk. Plus, Randys wallet remained in his back pocket.
But other questions emerged.
Police hadnt found the murder weapon but recovered a .40-caliber shell casing from the floor near Randys feet.
It didnt match the only firearm theyd found at the office, a .380 Ruger sitting in a drawer.
And then there was the birthday note, ripped into nine pieces and discarded in an office trash can.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LOVE!
You are so very precious to my heart. I care for you more than anyone on Earth .
Im not in control of things yet, but when we are fully together your birthday will always be exciting, full of surprises, romantic and all about loving you! You are the center of my world. I praise you. I adore you. Im blessed by you. I need you. I love you.
As police combed the office for more clues, detectives Steve Schmidli and Jerry Stewart conducted Teresa Stones first interview at police headquarters.
They learned the couple had been about to go through some financial strains because of business changes they had planned. But, despite some recent stress, the marriage was strong, Teresa insisted.
We were very much in love, she told them.
The detectives asked her about a large handgun, a Glock, that one of Randys police-officer friends had seen him with.
Teresa remembered only the little .380, guessing that Randy must have sold the bigger pistol about a year earlier.
I dont think he had that one any more cause this little one is the only one Ive seen for a very (long) while, she said.
Schmidli brought up the birthday letter.
It was at the bottom of your trash can, he said.
Teresa didnt recall it.
Schmidli and Stewart hustled out to see if crime scene techs had returned with a photo of it.
Alone in the interview room, but monitored by a hidden camera, Teresa agonized.
Oh, great, she whispered to herself. I forgot about that.
When the detectives returned, she conjured a story about an unknown secret admirer who left the note on her car years before.
Though Teresa could appear casual and fun, she knew that keeping secrets was serious business.
And the detectives questions already had nicked a dark spot one she steadfastly refused to reveal: a forbidden relationship with David Love, her pastor at New Hope Baptist Church.
About a year after Pastor Love arrived, he invited her into his office.
The birthday note cheerfully recalled the moment:
I remember nine years ago telling you I had something for you in my office. It was me. I wanted to give you me. That kiss you took and then you gave me one back. I felt like it was my birthday.
The spontaneous and passionate affair began slowly, with weekly meetings wherever the opportunity presented.
Sometimes, when she knew her husband would be away from the insurance business for at least an hour, Teresa called Pastor Love. Their meetings increased to three times a week, and then to even one or two times a day.
Teresa also had to fulfill her husbands need for affection.
It wore me out, she reflected later.
In 2005 Teresa became pregnant with Davids child, a condition she could not hide from Randy, who had undergone a vasectomy. The news shocked Randy, but he had seen other couples conceive after vasectomies, so the idea of a physiological malfunction wasnt completely alien to him.
The issue faded after Teresa miscarried. In Teresas mind, God spared her that day.
Yet gossip occasionally spilled through the church.
In 2008, Randy told a church staffer he soon would leave New Hope because he suspected his wife was having an affair with the pastor.
Randy, thats ridiculous, the staffer said. You need to be careful of the accusations you make when it comes to those kinds of things because thats a life-changing accusation for a pastor.
Randy stuck with his wife and minister, even submitting to weekly counseling with David after Teresa caught him watching pornography.
The porn troubled Teresa, and she responded by falling more deeply into her pastors arms. And he responded in sometimes reckless ways.
David posed in front of a digital camera for 30 profoundly intimate photographs, which he sent to Teresa and then deleted from his computer.
In January 2009, Pastor Love tapped out a series of fervent emails to Teresa.
I long for the touch of your hand as you walk by, and the twinkle in your pretty blue eyes as you smile at me. You are my doll. Your encouragement is all that keeps me going.
Thank you for being so wonderful, beautiful, sexy and smart. I live to please you. I am so totally in love with you.
The couple imagined what it would be like to be married.
I cannot wait to watch you walk to me knowing that we are officially about to be married publicly, David wrote in January 2009. I love your ideas. I love your plans. I think you can collect wedding info and file it as if you are planning for your daughter.
Teresa responded that she would love an outdoor wedding.
Maybe a rose garden or something like that. My dress, I am not sure. When I find the perfect dress you will be the first to see it.
As they sought to understand their love, David Love reminded Teresa Stone of the biblical King David, Israels warrior king who demonstrated that no mans depravity was beyond Gods forgiveness.
He was not even above murder, the pastor observed. King David, for example, orchestrated the death of Bathshebas husband, Uriah, so he could take her as his wife.
And God still blessed him, David told Teresa.
Teresa tried to dissuade her own David from extremes.
If God wants us to be together, God will make it happen, she said.
But Pastor Love spoke as if he were an instrument of Gods will.
Its the warrior in me.
The investigation at the insurance office slowed that night when police determined theyd need a warrant before conducting a more thorough search.
After the medical examiners office removed Randys body, detectives sealed the office and posted a guard.
Rosewaren, with 23 years on the force, already had classified the case as a whodunit.
Investigators would scrutinize everyone close to Stone to see who had the means, motive and opportunity to commit the crime.
Rosewarens bosses ordered crime analysts and detectives from other units to drop everything and move onto the case.
Within days, more than two dozen detectives, officers, analysts and specialists would be assisting.
Keep your eyes open, Rosewaren told other detectives.
Rosewaren had plenty of leads to chase.
Someone out there had to know these people and understand how they thought.
One of them lived hundreds of miles to the east, in West Virginia.
Like a River Glorious!
Coming the day after a murder, that wasnt the answer that Pastor David Trump had expected.
In an afternoon phone call, Trump had asked David Love how he was doing, given that someone had gunned down a prominent member of his church the previous afternoon.
Pastor Love responded with a happy quotation from a 19th century hymn that celebrated being perfectly at peace with God.
Like a River Glorious! he said with a cheerful swagger in his voice before changing the subject to the NCAA basketball tournament.
Trump, pastor of a Baptist church in Beckley, W.Va., had known David Love and his wife since 1990, though he hadnt spoken with them for years.
Earlier that morning, Teresa Stone, another distant friend he hadnt heard from in a while, called to announce that her husband, Randy, had been shot the previous day. She followed that with a quick accounting of her activities for the day and rang off after about 10 minutes.
Trump immediately called David Love to confirm that this wasnt a cruel April Fools joke, it being April 1.
After David Love returned the call, Trump steered the conversation from college basketball and back to Randy Stone.
David Love responded much like Teresa, with a detailed description of his day, mentioning a funeral service he had performed in Gladstone in the early afternoon, a stop for a sandwich and a hospital visit he had made in south Kansas City much later in the afternoon.
Do you think youll be questioned? Trump asked.
I could be, and if I am I have a stack of dirt on (Randy Stone), Love responded.
The pastors spoke briefly about Loves plans for Randys funeral and ended the conversation.
After hanging up, Trump thought about an earlier discussion that now troubled him on a number of levels.
In 2002, when the Stones visited Trump in West Virginia, Randy had confided that hed found a letter from Teresa, brimming with sexual fantasies and written to someone named David. Randy advised that hed confronted Teresa, who responded that shed read that staging an affair letter might improve (Randy and Teresas) sexual relationship.
Randy never again raised the subject with Trump.
Now Randy was dead. And within hours Teresa Stone and David Love each had shared their complete alibis for the day Randy had been killed.
Trump felt uneasy and resolved to contact police in Missouri. But he held off, thinking his suspicions too implausible.
Have I been watching too much TV? he asked himself.
Tomorrow: The breakthrough.