Last week’s vicious attacks in a south Kansas City cul-de-sac have taken the lives of two more victims, making it the city’s worst multiple killing case in perhaps 15 years.
The family of Ann Taylor, 86, and her 80-year-old husband, George Taylor, said Tuesday in a written statement released by a hospital that they had died.
The Taylors had been hospitalized since the Sept. 2 assault that left three other people dead.
“George and Ann died peacefully, and we are blessed that they left this Earth together,” the family said in their statement. “They were married more than 40 years and loved each other dearly. They lived life fully, and while many might say they were old, they were healthy, vibrant, independent and extremely active in the community — a community they loved and gave back to generously.”
Kansas City police responding to a reported shooting on Woodbridge Lane just east of Wornall Road last Tuesday afternoon found the Taylors unconscious and gravely injured inside their home.
Nearby, police found their neighbors Susan Choucroun, 69, and Lorene Hurst, 88, shot to death. Hurst’s 63-year-old son, Darrel Hurst of Leawood, who was visiting his mother, was also killed.
A 34-year-old Kansas City man, Brandon B. Howell, was arrested later that night and the next day was charged with three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of first-degree assault for the injuries suffered by the Taylors.
The Jackson County prosecutor’s office said Tuesday it is now reassessing the charges previously filed in what it termed “the tragedy on Woodbridge last week.”
“Our office is evaluating potential changes in criminal charges facing Brandon Howell,” the prosecutor’s office said in a written statement. “Be assured that at the appropriate time, today’s sad news of the Taylors’ passing will be reflected in the state’s case against the defendant.”
With five homicide victims, the crime on Woodbridge is believed to be the city’s first quintuple murder case since 1999, when Gary Beach was charged with killing five men whose bodies were found inside his Westport-area rental home.
Beach, 72, is serving a sentence of life in prison without parole.
Retired Kansas City homicide Sgt. David Bernard said killings involving multiple victims are “extremely tragic,” not just because of the number of victims but because of their “utter senselessness.”
“It would seem that many times these truly innocent victims were killed for no other reason than they had the misfortune of crossing paths with the perpetrator and witnessing the commission of a crime,” Bernard said.
Kansas City police are continuing to investigate the circumstances that allegedly brought Howell to the neighborhood as well as the sequence of events in the crime.
In an affidavit filed in Jackson County Circuit Court to support charges against Howell, police say he burglarized the Taylors’ home and then shot the other three victims outside their homes before he fled the area in the Taylors’ Toyota Highlander.
The Taylors may have been attacked first, and the Hursts apparently were shot after they had just returned from a trip to the grocery store. The sound of those shots prompted others to look out, and one witness reported seeing a man get out of the Highlander, walk up to Choucroun and shoot her. He then got back in the vehicle and drove away.
A few hours later, three people were assaulted at a Kansas City, North, motel and officers searching for the assailant found the abandoned Highlander several blocks away.
Victims of the motel incident identified Howell as the assailant, according to court records, and later that night police acting on a tip from the public stopped Howell walking along the shoulder of Interstate 29.
He allegedly had the keys to the Highlander in his pocket and a shotgun concealed in his pants leg.
George Taylor was a military veteran and a retired stone mason. His wife was an entrepreneur and member of the Red Hat Society, an international social organization for women over 50.
In their public statement Tuesday, the Taylor family had a message for the entire community:
“While we are devastated to have lost George and Ann today, we want something good to come out of this tragedy and send this message: Love one another; hold your family close; have faith and live life fully — just as they did.”
“We deeply appreciate the community’s support and their outpouring of love, and thank the Kansas City Police Department, first responders and hospital staff for their excellent care and compassion.
“They were wonderful parents, loving grandparents, the best friends you could ask for, kind and caring neighbors and took pride in helping others. We are all better human beings for knowing and loving them.”
Howell, who had spent more than a decade in prison for a 1999 home invasion robbery in Johnson County before he was paroled in 2011, was previously charged with the murder of two Johnson County teenagers, but a Jackson County jury in 2009 found him not guilty of the charges.
He is now being held in the Jackson County jail without bond.
To reach Tony Rizzo, call 816-234-4435 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.