Local news

Murder defendant, described as aspiring serial killer, pronounced dead

Updated: 2013-04-12T11:37:12Z

By TONY RIZZO and CHRISTINE VENDEL

The Kansas City Star

When Derek Richardson was arrested earlier this year and charged with killing two area women, police said they were convinced he would have killed again.

But in the end the only other life Richardson would take was his own.

Clay County officials announced that the 27-year-old Kansas City, North, man died at 4:42 p.m. Thursday at a hospital where he was taken Sunday after a jail cell suicide attempt.

Richardson, the married father of a young son, was described by authorities as an aspiring serial killer. He had been on life support since deputies discovered him in his cell Sunday morning.

Officials on Thursday would not say how Richardson had injured himself pending a report from the medical examiner. Richardson’s organs were to be harvested before releasing the body to the examiner.

Richardson had been in the Clay County jail since his arrest Feb. 16.

He was charged in the killings of Tamara R. Sparks, 40, and Nicoleone M. Reed, 24. The women were killed during sex acts, and their bodies were left along gravel roads in October 2011 and last August.

Teresa Wicks, mother of Nikki Reed, said she felt cheated by Richardson in life and now, in death. She had wanted to face him at his trial.

“He stole my daughter from me,” she said, sobbing. “Now he stole this from me.”

Wicks had already planned out what she wanted to say to him.

“She wasn’t just some hooker. She was my daughter,” Wicks said. “She was trying to get clean. ... No one knew what she went through. He didn’t have the right to pick up people off the street and do that.”

But now, Wicks won’t get her day in court.

“He doesn’t have to face me. He doesn’t have to hear me,” she said. “That’s why this hurts so badly. He’ll never hear me.”

Police said that Richardson confessed to the crimes.

“We absolutely stopped someone who was going to kill again,” Kansas City Police Sgt. Doug Niemeier said at the time of his arrest.

A bicyclist found the body of Sparks on Oct. 4, 2011, on Northeast 120th Street just east of North Eastern Avenue.

On Aug. 21, a farmer discovered Reed’s body lying next to a gravel road near a dead end at 134th and Scott Avenue in Kearney.

Police said that both women were last seen in northeast Kansas City, where they worked as prostitutes. Their bodies were both found with shirts pushed up and pants pulled down and had bleach poured on them.

On Feb. 8, investigators made a public plea for tips in the case and released information about a shoe that had been recovered at one of the crime scenes.

That plea generated calls from several tipsters who led police to Richardson.

According to court documents, one witness said Richardson told him about killing one woman and pouring bleach on her body to destroy evidence. Richardson told the witness that he was infatuated with serial killers and showed him an article with the picture of Reed, according to the documents.

A second witness told police that Richardson had asked her what she would think if he told her he was a serial killer, the documents said. He then smiled as he told her he was one.

That witness also told police that Richardson had owned a pair of shoes like the one left at the crime scene.

Clay County Prosecutor Daniel White said Thursday that Richardson’s death saved taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars and maybe more.

“Derek Richardson’s suicide may have been an attempt to escape justice but the fact is he imposed upon himself the most severe punishment available and did so in a way impossible to appeal,” White said in a written statement.

The Star’s Matt Campbell contributed to this report. To reach Tony Rizzo, call 816-234-4435 or send email to trizzo@kctar.com. To reach Christine Vendel, call 816-234-4438 or send email to cvendel@kcstar.com.

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