As her parents slept elsewhere in the home, 16-year-old Fawn Cox was molested in her second-story bedroom.
On the morning of July 26, 1989, Fawn’s alarm went off as she had set it, but the girl wasn’t alive to turn it off. Her mother entered the room as the clock blared. She found Fawn’s body in the bed, clad in a nightshirt.
It’s a cold case that haunts Kansas City Sgt. Benjamin Caldwell as much as any in his career. Updated DNA testing of evidence from the crime scene — and now available 24/7 on national databases — ought to turn up a suspect when that person is charged with a felony, Caldwell said.
“Whoever killed her either has never been charged with a felony or is no longer alive,” he said. “People don’t start killing and then quit and stay out of trouble, as if they fell off the face of the earth.”
Investigators could only presume that Fawn’s killer, or killers, entered her room through an open window at the home at 4640 E. Ninth St. He may have climbed atop a pickup truck parked behind the house to get up there.
Fawn had spoken with her parents the night before, after her cashier’s shift at Worlds of Fun, and retired to bed around 11 p.m. She was the only family member sleeping on the second floor, according to news accounts.
Since it was a muggy night, her attacker may have been aided by the noise of room air conditioners on the main floor, where at least one of Fawn’s sisters slept to stay cool.
Some electronic devices were taken from Fawn’s bedroom. A junior at Northeast High School, she was not known to use drugs and her father praised her dedication to serving at Sheffield Assembly of God Church.
“By all accounts she was a good kid,” Caldwell said. “Every death we see is tragic, but it’s especially tragic when it happens to a child who thinks she’s in the safety of her own home.”
Within a month of the slaying three male teens, two of them juveniles, were arrested for questioning. Police appeared to be moving toward a theory that the girl died in a botched robbery.
Eventually all three suspects were charged on various counts of murder and sexual assault in Fawn’s death. But investigators were never able to place any of the youths at the crime scene, and at least one man was released after serving eight months in jail. In his case DNA tests failed to link him to the crimes.
Prosecutors ultimately saw the case unravel, and Fawn Cox’s murder stood as an early example of DNA testing that produced inconclusive if not faulty results.
In their absence of answers, Fawn’s parents took solace in her devotion to church and Christian youth activities. “That’s the only thing that’s holding us together,” father John Cox would say in the hours after the crime, “knowing that I’ll be able to spend the rest of eternity with her some day.”
Name: Fawn M. Cox
Circumstances of the crime: In the early hours of July 26, 1989, Fawn was attacked in her bedroom on the second floor of the Cox family home at 4640 E. Ninth St. An intruder may have entered through an upstairs window to commit burglary.
Suspect information: Three male teenagers were arrested in the weeks after the crime, but no evidence — including DNA testing of hair and semen samples — could place any of them at the scene. Prosecutors dropped the charges.
Anyone with information is asked to call: The KCPD’s Cold Case Squad at 816-234-5136.