Kansas City police found a body in a dirt pile Wednesday morning while investigating the disappearance of a Hickman Mills Junior High School eighth-grader.
Police would not confirm that the body belonged to the missing 14-year-old, identified by his mother as Montee Ross Jr.
She last saw him Sunday and started her own investigation to try to find out what happened. She provided information Wednesday to police that led officers to the body in the 11500 block of Food Lane, just southwest of Longview Road and Food Lane, behind some townhomes.
Montee lives with his family in a house on the next block.
“Right now there’s no confirmation,” said his mother, Alicia Temple. “We’re still in the gray area. We’re hoping and praying for the best.”
Temple said she was getting ready for church Sunday when her daughter, her 12-year-old son and Montee walked to a store. The younger son later told her that a friend approached Montee and Montee left with the friend, telling his little brother that he was going to the friend’s home and he would meet up with him later.
But relatives did not see Montee again. He did not show up at school this week. Montee’s siblings did not know the name of Montee’s friend but said they later learned he was 19 years old and supposedly lived in one of the townhomes.
Temple reported Montee missing Monday, but she said police did not exert any effort to find him. She started her own missing-person campaign on social media sites. Meanwhile, her daughter started hearing rumors at school.
The information Temple received indicated that Montee had been shot accidentally inside one of the townhomes and buried nearby.
“The kids are scared,” Temple said. “There are kids who know what happened, but they don’t want to get in trouble or be in danger.”
Police began searching the area about 8:30 a.m. Wednesday and soon saw a hand exposed from a large dirt pile, one of several in a parking lot behind the townhomes. Neighbors said the dirt came from construction work on Longview Road. The body was found in a lot across from Ingels Elementary School.
Crime-scene investigators carefully sifted through the dirt for evidence before recovering the body. Detectives also got a search warrant for one of the townhomes, where they believe the victim may have been killed. They also detained some people from the townhome for questioning.
The large police presence drew neighbors and friends outside, including Kiondre Hill, a Hickman Mills ninth-grader.
“This is crazy,” he said. “Montee was just in my doorway two weeks ago. We were just talking.”
Temple described Montee as very outgoing, adventurous and inquisitive. She said he is technically savvy, enjoys making money and likes to “be the best dressed.”
He talked to her about becoming a veterinarian one day. He often rattled off facts about animals and insects that he picked up from television, she said.
“He loves that Animal Planet station,” she said. “He watched all those shows.”