Christina “Chrissy” Cunningham told her mother she would come by and dye her hair Saturday after meeting a friend north of the river. When she failed to show, her parents didn’t worry.
That was just Chrissy’s M.O., her father, Kevin Brown, said Tuesday.
And there were no concerns Saturday evening when phone calls from Cunningham’s mother went unanswered and unreturned. Her parents knew they’d hear from her eventually.
But when Kansas City homicide detectives knocked on the couple’s door after they came home from Sunday church, a wave of dread quickly took over.
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The detectives told Brown and his wife that a Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper found their 23-year-old daughter Saturday evening with gunshot wounds on Interstate 29 near Northwest 56th Street, near an abandoned car. Cunningham was left mortally wounded near a car on the south entrance ramp.
Cunningham was taken to a hospital but later died. She was the city’s 14th homicide of 2017.
“For what purpose would someone have had to have taken my child’s life?” Brown wondered. “It leaves a void because you just don’t know why.”
The trooper pulled over to check on what was thought to be a stranded motorist but did not see anyone inside the car. After looking around, the trooper found Cunningham sprawled on the ground.
Investigators think Cunningham was shot while she was inside the vehicle, likely by another passenger.
Anyone with information should call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS (8477).
“It leaves a void because you don’t know who your child was dealing with,” Brown said. “You ask yourself, ‘Was there a side to her that we didn’t know about?’ ”
Cunningham grew up in Kansas City, Kan., and graduated from Washington High School in 2011. Brown said his daughter was an exceptional student who participated in the school’s ROTC program. She also enjoyed soccer and an array of other activities.
Brown said Cunningham was a quiet child who usually kept to herself. She went to school, and her parents made sure she focused on her studies and completed her chores.
After graduation, Cunningham made plans to enlist in the military, but instead she took classes at Kansas City, Kan., Community College. She later attended Donnelly College and worked various jobs.
Most recently, Cunningham worked at a hotel at the Legends Outlets near the Kansas Speedway. Like many young people, Brown said, his daughter was trying to earn a living, dealing with life’s challenges while still trying to figure out her career choice.
Brown said his daughter told him she was going to meet someone north of the Missouri River, possibly in Gladstone, but she never made it.
The family now ponders what happened and what clues they can offer investigators to help bring them closure.
“It is a grave loss, it was my child,” Brown said. “It is a loss that is unimaginable, but this house stands on having Jesus Christ in our lives. I know my daughter is in a better place right now.
“The tears that I cried on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday are now tears of joy because I know that she is in a better place than what she was dealing with down here,” he said.