KC police investigate Wayne Avenue fire death as homicide

“Everybody knew him in this neighborhood,” victim’s family says. Police think the fire was set intentionally.

04/18/2012 12:00 AM

05/16/2014 6:24 PM

George Graham always looked out for his neighbors.

Now his family is hoping some of them can help police, who are investigating what is believed to be an intentionally set fire that killed the 78-year-old Graham in his central Kansas City home Wednesday morning.

Kansas City police are investigating his death in the 4100 block of Wayne Avenue as a possible homicide.

“Everybody knew him in this neighborhood,” said his son, Jeffrey Graham. “If anybody knows anything or saw anything, please come forward and help the police.”

The fire was reported shortly before 5 a.m., and the first firefighters on the scene found the front of the house engulfed in flames.

As firefighters looked for a second way into the house, they passed a window and saw Graham sitting in a chair, said Battalion Chief Lew Hendricks, a Kansas City Fire Department spokesman.

They pulled him from the house and rushed him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, according to Kansas City police.

“We followed the ambulance to the hospital, but they told us he didn’t make it,” said Tasha Martin, the girlfriend of one of Graham’s sons.

Martin said Graham was a “phenomenal human being” who treated her like a daughter.

“He’s the only dad I’ve ever known,” she said.

Graham worked at the General Motors Fairfax plant for 33 years before he retired, according to Jeffrey Graham.

He was the father of six and had many grandchildren. Jeffrey Graham said his father was active in his church and in his neighborhood watch program.

“He would do whatever he could for his neighborhood,” Jeffrey Graham said.

George Graham was a “strong pillar” in his church, said the Rev. Rodney Williams, pastor of Swope Parkway United Christian Church.

Graham regularly took communion to the sick and shut-ins, drove the church van and served on the church’s deacon board, Williams said.

“He was a meek man with a great spirit,” Williams said. “We are going to miss him.”

Police ask anyone with information about the fire to call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-8477.

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