As Kansas City police investigate four unsolved homicides that they described as having “obvious similarities,” police officials are not close to calling the deaths the work of a serial killer.
The homicides all occurred in recent months; the victims were white males from 54 to 66 years old; one death was on the Blue River Trail and three were along the Indian Creek Trail in south Kansas City, and three of the four were walking their dogs.
Could a serial killer be at work?
“Not yet, we’re not there,” said Maj. Donna Greenwell, commander of the Kansas City Police Department’s violent crimes unit. “I won’t put that out. It’s not even on the radar yet.
“We have no witnesses, we have no video,” Greenwell said. “We have nothing other than our victim. At this point, anything we would say at this point would be guesses and speculation.”
Mike Darby, 61, co-owner of Coach’s Bar & Grill at 103rd Street and Wornall Road, was found sprawled on the trail about 6:30 a.m. Thursday near a medical office in the 300 block of West 101 Street Terrace, about half a mile from his restaurant. Police have not released Darby’s name, but he was identified by friends and co-workers as the slain victim.
The cause of death has not been released.
It’s the second time in three months that a dog-walker was found slain in the south Kansas City neighborhood.
Since then, police have increased patrols in the area.
“We just want to put it out that we’ve got an issue on that trail and make sure people on the trail are safe,” Greenwell said Monday.
David Lenox, 66, was found fatally shot just a few steps away from his front door at the Willow Creek Apartments near 99th and Walnut streets.
In August, a pedestrian alerted police after discovering the body of John Palmer, 54, of Kansas City.
Timothy S. Rice, 57, of Excelsior Springs, was found dead April 4 inside a shelter at Minor Park, near East Red Bridge Road and 110th Street.
Greenwell would not say how three of the victims were killed.
Police said they were treating each case as a separate investigation but were looking into “obvious similarities” among the deaths.
Darby was walking his two dogs on the trail early Thursday, which was part of a daily routine, his friends said.
Several people who have used the trail expressed concerns about their safety.
“I stay away from that section of the trail because it does not seem safe to me, although I have ridden my bike a couple of times from the QuikTrip on to Leawood Park and beyond,” said Mindy Werling. “I don’t plan to do that again until this is resolved.”