The day after the father of her two children was killed, Charlena Trahan went knocking on doors. At one house after the other, no one would say they witnessed a fight or heard gunshots.
She finally circled back to where her search for witnesses started — the curbside at the corner of Sixth Street and Myrtle Avenue in northeast Kansas City.
That’s where Bobbie Bailey, 35, died the afternoon of Nov. 3. That’s where Trahan saw his blood still splattered. And that’s where Trahan fell to her knees and wept.
“I’m bawling,” she said. “Nobody knows nothing…”
Then a stranger stepped up.
The person said they should meet at a nearby restaurant. It wasn’t safe to talk there.
Bailey’s family and friends are trying to piece together what happened the afternoon he died. The details they are learning suggest he was shot in an argument over a wood stove that Bailey had given to another man on the block.
Bailey had no gun. Bailey’s mother and Trahan, his one-time fiancee — among others — have been sharing Facebook posts showing Bailey playing with his and Trahan’s 7- and 8-year-old daughters. He was recently released from prison for a sentence he served after a burglary conviction. He had just finished his first week on a construction job.
“It’s been a rough year,” Bailey posted a week before he died. “I lost everything I loved. I’m trying to pick up the pieces. … I don’t want to spend any more time in the past.”
On Nov. 4, the day after the killing, Kansas City Police put out a notice naming a “person of interest” they wanted for questioning in Bailey’s death. Later that day, the person turned himself in — 24-year-old Anthony “Tony” Nevels.
Nevels is free now, released from custody pending further investigation, police said.
He is back among his family, which, like Bailey’s family, has suffered through the death of sons and brothers.
Three months ago, Tony Nevels and one of his sisters, Tasha James, sat together on the front stoop where their brother, Freddie Nevels, died when people he’d been arguing with came back with guns. Freddie Nevels was shot barely 100 feet from where Bailey would die.
Tony Nevels and James pleaded for justice in the death of Freddie Nevels — whose death remains under investigation with no one yet charged.
Tony Nevels thought of his children that day, saying, “How do I explain to my kids that they’re not going to see their uncle again?”
The two deaths appear to be unrelated. But they are a reminder of how many of Kansas City’s homicides are interconnected through ties between victims and their loved ones.
At the Nevels’ house, another of Tony Nevels’ sisters said that her brother was OK. But no one wanted to comment any further.
Just as people who knew Freddie Nevels wanted him remembered, people who knew Bailey are rallying in his memory for justice.
Sunday night, two days after Bailey died, his friends gathered at the building that had been the elementary school in Lowry City, Mo., where he grew up.
About 30 people stood close to the wall and cupped their hands around their candles in a brittle wind, said Lisa Smith, whose 17-year-old son was Bobbie Bailey’s nephew.
Bobbie Bailey had his difficulties in life, Smith said, but he always wanted to help people, always shared a smile.
It’s no surprise, family said, that on the day he died, Bailey had been helping a friend who had no heat by leaving him a wood stove.
People held a vigil for Bailey in Kansas City, too, on the block where he died.
They want to keep the police’s attention on the investigation, Trahan said. Kansas City has seen 129 homicides so far in 2017. She wants it known that Bailey is not just “Homicide No. 123,” she said. “He didn’t deserve that at all.”
Bobbie Bailey had been the only son left to his mother, Pearl Reimer. Her other son, David Bailey, killed himself in May 2016.
She anguishes over Bobbie Bailey’s death.
“What were his last thoughts?” she said. “Did he think about his children? Did he feel alone? Did he feel loved? Did he know he was going to die?”
Bailey was No. 123 in Kansas City’s homicide list. Freddie Nevels was No. 83. Both died in gunfire.
The investigations go on, police said. Anyone with information is urged to call the TIPS hotline at 816-474-TIPS (8477).