Jackson County prosecutors on Friday accused an 18-year-old man of fatally shooting a motel clerk in the head during an apparent botched robbery in June.
Dayqwaun M. Sykes of Kansas City was charged with second-degree murder and armed criminal action in the June 10 killing of Kassandra S. Peters, 24, at the Travelers Inn at 6006 E. 31st St.
Peters had worked at the motel for about a year and lived there. But the job was supposed to be temporary. She had received her certification as a nursing assistant and was looking for a job and considering nursing school, her mother said.
Police arrested Sykes on Thursday, which brought some peace to Peters’ mother, Virginia, who didn’t want her full name published out of concern for her safety.
“I don’t think I’ll ever have a lot of closure because I miss her every day,” she said. “But I do have some peace of mind that they’re not out walking the street.”
Court records said two men drove Sykes to the motel just before 1 a.m. The driver stayed in the car, the passenger held the motel door open and Sykes allegedly walked up to an employee and asked about renting a room. The employee referred the man to Peters, who was working behind the front desk. The employee walked a short distance away, where he could not see the front desk. He then heard a gunshot and saw the two men running away. He also saw a white car peeling out of the parking lot in reverse.
A police officer responding to the shooting passed the speeding white car and turned around to chase it. The officer talked to the two occupants, who said they were at the motel but heard a gunshot, so they left. The officer took down their names before releasing them.
Detectives later talked to the passenger, who said they had taken Sykes to the motel so Sykes could get marijuana from his drug supplier. He and the driver heard a gunshot, so they fled, leaving Sykes behind, they told police, according to court records.
Police also talked to a man who encountered three young men at a bus stop about 51/2 hours after the shooting. One of the young men said he had two guns in a plastic bag he was trying to sell because they were “dirty,” according to court records. The young man said they had done something messed up and added, “You will see it on the news.”
Police said their investigation was ongoing.
Peters grew up in Oklahoma but moved to Kansas City in 2009 to take care of her mother after she had brain surgery. Peters decided to stay for a while but probably would have eventually moved back to Oklahoma, her mother said.
“She always wanted to support herself,” Virginia said. “She got her first job at age 13. … She’s always been a go-getter.”
The murder was the second at the motel this year. In March, a man was beaten to death in a hallway. But Peters never shared any fears about her job with her mother.
“I asked her, ‘Is this place safe?’ And she was like, ‘Mom.’” Virginia said. “She may not have wanted me to worry. She’s a strong girl, but you can’t block a bullet.”