Candice Fisher and Christina Brandolese shared a desperate struggle with drug addiction and the grim life of young women working Kansas City’s streets.
On Memorial Day weekend, 1989, they shared something else — a violent death. And authorities believe they died at the hand of the same killer.
A number of possible suspects have been scrutinized in the 28 years since they were killed. The list of suspects included an infamous Johnson County serial killer convicted of murdering three other young women within weeks of when Fisher, 18, and Brandolese, 21, were killed.
But none of those leads tracked down by detectives has been enough to identify and prosecute the murderer of the two young women.
By all accounts, Fisher and Brandolese were both bright and sensitive souls.
Relatives said Fisher did high school level school work when she was in grade school. She had a daughter when she died.
Brandolese wrote poetry.
But both became dependent on drugs and in 1989, each was known to frequent streets known for prostitution.
They were on those streets on May 29 of that year when they were last seen alive.
Brandolese was seen about 2:30 a.m. near Independence and Garfield avenues. Later that day, around 4 p.m., Fisher was seen in the area of 37th and Main streets.
On May 30, Brandolese’s body was found in rural Johnson County at the end of a driveway in the 26000 block of West 199th Street, about a quarter-mile west of Cedar Niles Road.
Authorities at the time said her throat had been cut, and her body was partially burned.
The Metro Squad, made up of detectives from area police departments, was called in to investigate leads.
Then on June 2, Fisher’s body was found in a field in the 25500 block of West 191st Street, about a three-minute drive from the site where Brandolese was found.
Investigators quickly linked the two murders.
But after several weeks and nearly 200 leads, investigators said they had hit a dead end.
By then, much of the Johnson County law enforcement community was involved in the hunt for three other missing women and the suspect in their disappearances.
Eventually, Richard Grissom Jr. was arrested in Texas and was investigated in the cases of Brandolese and Fisher, who had reportedly known him.
But detectives never found any concrete evidence linking him to their deaths.
He was convicted of murder in the deaths of the three other women, whose bodies have never been found.
Despite the passage of time, detectives with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office have continued to follow up on any new leads in the deaths of Brandolese and Fisher.
Detective Lucky Smith has been assigned the case since 2009.
“I’m still hoping for the best,” Smith said of solving the case.
He has followed some additional leads as they have come in and said that improvements in forensic science since 1989 have increased the chances of solving the crime.
“In every one of these cases, somebody knows something,” he said. “All it takes is the right person to make that one phone call.”
Names: Candice Fisher of Grandview and Christina Brandolese of Houston Lake.
Ages: Fisher, 18; Brandolese, 21.
Circumstances of crime: Both women were last seen May 29, 1989, at different locations in Kansas City. Brandolese was found dead the next day in rural Johnson County. Fisher’s body was found in the same general area a few days later.
Suspect information: Unknown.
Anyone with information is asked to call: Detective Lucky Smith with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office at 913-715-5578 or the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS (8477).