On the last day of Detective Brad Lancaster’s life, he was still following leads in a 2015 homicide case in which a father is accused of feeding his son’s body to pigs.
A detective for three years with the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department, Lancaster, 39, worked relentlessly on the case, putting in his own time and following every tip that came in. He had thrown himself into the investigation from the time the 7-year-old’s remains were found in November.
“Brad was going to give everything he could to this Adrian Jones case,” said Scott Kirkpatrick, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 4. “He didn’t want anything more than to bring justice to that child.”
On Monday, while on duty, Lancaster heard a radio call for help just after 12:15 p.m. Someone from the Hollywood Casino had called about a suspicious person. When officers arrived, the man had run off.
In Lancaster’s last call for service, he responded to help with the pursuit. The man reportedly ran down a hill and fired several shots at Lancaster, who died later at a hospital.
“We’re struggling over it, we’re struggling with it,” said Kansas City, Kan., Police Chief Terry Zeigler in a meeting with reporters Tuesday afternoon. “I just keep saying, ‘We’re going to be OK. We’re going to check on each other, check on his family.’ ”
Lancaster grew up in Weston in Platte County. So did his wife, Jamie. The two went to school together and attended Weston Christian Church.
“They grew up on the same street, a block apart,” said the Rev. Mary Bolan, who spent time with Jamie on Tuesday morning. “In high school, they ran in the same group of friends.”
It wasn’t until after Brad had gone off to the Air Force and come home from his first deployment overseas that they started dating and eventually married, Bolan said. Their daughters are 9 and 10 years old.
The news of Lancaster’s death is “hitting everybody,” Bolan said. “Weston is alive with this news. … The ties are deep here.”
The women’s ministry at the church asked for prayers Tuesday morning through its Facebook page, The Rose Vine: “Activating The Rose Vine! Prayers for Jamie Berry Lancaster and family.”
Neighbors in Kansas City, Kan., can’t think about Brad Lancaster without seeing an image of him outside with his daughters. He’d listen to music and they’d play together, the girls often dancing around. In the evenings, he loved to barbecue.
In the last week, neighbors saw the dad outside with his daughters on a sunny day spraying them with a hose.
“He was in his glory when he was outside with his two girls,” said neighbor Helen Coniglio, who with her husband, Paul, has known the family for more than six years. “He was a family man, and anytime he had the time off duty, he was with his family.”
Lancaster also helped in the neighborhood. When he noticed that Helen Coniglio had a cast on her foot and was using a cane, he called to see if there was anything he could do.
In the past few days, they had been texting each other about a time when Lancaster would mow their lawn.
And before neighbor Wanda Hooks’ husband — a retired KCK police officer — died in 2014, Lancaster would come over anytime she needed him.
“Sometimes my husband fell and couldn’t get back up,” Hooks said. “Brad always came over and helped us. When we called an ambulance, (Brad and Jamie) were just right there with us.”
Jamie and the girls went home Monday evening to grab some things. By then, Paul Coniglio was putting the flag outside at half-staff.
“She saw my husband do that and they walked over,” Helen Coniglio said as she started to cry over the phone. “They came on the porch and hugged us and cried. She thanked us for honoring her husband that way.”
Tuesday morning, Coniglio and Hooks said they couldn’t understand the senseless death.
“The first thing when I woke up this morning and saw the sun shining and it was going to be a beautiful day, I thought, ‘Boy, if Brad was home, he’d be outside with his girls and probably barbecuing tonight,’ ” Coniglio said. “It’s really sad around here now knowing what has happened.”
A similar sadness hangs over the police department. Lancaster had been on the force for nine years, earning 13 commendations. He spent several years on patrol before he was promoted to detective.
He previously worked in the Platte County sheriff’s office for nine years, in both the detention and patrol divisions.
The Air Force veteran had a strong commitment to public service, friends and colleagues said. He was a regular at FOP meetings, never missing one.
“Back row, left-hand side of me,” Kirkpatrick said, smiling. “He always had something to say back there.”
The detective was known for his humor and quick wit. As Kirkpatrick put it: “He knew what he was going to say before you finished your sentence.”
Counselors have been brought in to talk with officers if needed. Members of the force were notified Tuesday afternoon that they could wear a Kansas City Royals cap with their uniform until Lancaster’s funeral on Saturday at Children’s Mercy Park.
A fitting tribute to their friend, an avid fan who’d wear a Royals cap any chance he got.
“You can’t find the words to be able to console everybody in the organization,” Zeigler said. “It’s going to change us. Anytime you lose a co-worker, especially in these circumstances when he’s murdered, I think it has an impact.”
The chief knows the impact it will have in the detective division, where Lancaster spent his last six months trying to piece together what happened to one child.
“To honor Brad’s memory, I’m sure the Adrian Jones case will not miss a beat,” Zeigler said. “We’ll have a lot of guys pitching in to make sure justice is brought to that little boy.”
A memorial fund has been established for Lancaster’s family. Contributions can be made at any branch of the Greater KC Public Safety Credit Union or at Kansas City, Kan., Police Headquarters at Seventh Street and Minnesota Avenue.
Services for slain detective announced
A public funeral for Detective Brad Lancaster will be held Saturday at 11 a.m. at Children’s Mercy Park, home of the Sporting Kansas City soccer team, at 1 Sporting Way in Kansas City, Kan.
A visitation will be held at 4 p.m. Friday at Trinity Community Church at 5010 Parallel Parkway.
Ian Cummings, firstname.lastname@example.org