If you witness a crime, here’s what to do
One young woman’s face was battered so viciously with a hatchet that investigators found bone fragments at the homicide scene along the Platte River last spring.
Another young woman awoke in her Ferrelview apartment the morning after Christmas following a night of drinking with someone she thought was a friend to discover she had been disemboweled with a razor. Clutching her intestines, she desperately sought help from a neighbor across the hall.
On Saturday, prosecutors charged Quintin Phillip O’Dell, 22, of Platte City, in both incidents. He faces a first-degree murder charge in the May 31 death of Alissa F. Shippert, 22, and first-degree assault in the razor attack on the 21-year-old woman.
Platte County Prosecutor Eric G. Zahnd said O’Dell, an Eagle Scout and co-worker of Shippert at a Platte County convenience store, could face the death penalty for the murder charge, saying he believed the hatchet assault was deliberate. Zahnd plans to confer with state officials before deciding.
At a morning press conference attended by family and friends of the victims, including Landis Shippert, Alissa’s father, and the parents of the woman who survived the assault, Platte County Sheriff Richard Anderson read the gruesome details of the alleged crimes.
The 2 ½-page probable cause statement was based on an interview O’Dell gave detectives Friday and the recollection of the woman who survived the post-Christmas attack.
Pausing briefly for a cup of water, Anderson first addressed the May 31 afternoon Shippert decied to go fishing alone at a boat ramp in the Platte Falls Conservation area.
The next day, sheriff’s deputies responded to a call of a woman’s body downstream from the ramp. Clad only in a bikini top, the body was face down with severe head injuries. A large amount of blood and bone fragments were nearby on the river bank.
More information came from the statement Anderson said O’Dell gave deputies Friday.
O’Dell said he was living with his mother in Platte City at the time, and left home on what he described as a sunny warm day. He began wading barefoot up the river. At one point, while passing beneath the Interstate 29 bridge, he found an old hatchet on the bank and took it.
He then discovered Shippert and for two hours sat and talked to her while she fished. At one point, her line was snagged on branches in the river, which was running high, and O’Dell went into the water to free it. He told deputies he lost his footing and slipped under water. After resurfacing downstream, he walked back.
He found Shippert standing in the water screaming, apparently believing he had drowned. She accused him of trying to frighten her and began shouting and slapping him, he said. He grabbed her in a bear hug from behind to control her, he said.
After she stopped, O’Dell said he released her, but she began slapping him again, he told the deputies.
“O’Dell claims that both he and Shippert reached for his hatchet on his canteen belt,” Anderson read from the court statement. “O’Dell pulled the hatchet away from Shippert and remembered striking her in the back of the head with the hatchet blade.”
She collapsed on the bank bleeding and crying.
“O’Dell stated he decided to end her suffering, got on his knees besides her body and repeatedly struck her in the face with the hatchet until she was no longer crying or breathing,” Anderson read.
O’Dell told deputies he sat for 15 or 20 minutes before deciding to drown himself. As he entered the river, he lost his footing and slipped.
“O’Dell reached for something on the bank to stop his fall and grabbed Shippert’s body, pulling her body into the river with him,” Anderson read.
O’Dell told detectives he released his grasp on the body and dropped the hatchet. He returned home by floating down the river. He then showered and went to sleep.
About six months later, at about 4 a.m. Dec. 26, Platte County deputies responded to the report of a stabbing at an apartment in Ferrelview.
They found a young woman, unconscious on the hallway floor, with her chest and abdomen slashed and her intestines exposed. It would be several days before she regained consciousness at the hospital.
A man described by deputies as the victim’s recent boyfriend called the sheriff’s department Dec. 26 saying he had spoken with her about 1:30 a.m. and she had told him that O’Dell was at her apartment.
In his statement to investigators, O’Dell said he called the woman Christmas night and asked if he could “hang out.” She agreed and he arrived after 11 p.m. with a six-pack of beer and a bottle of tequila. O’Dell said the woman drank two or three beers, a tequila mixed-drink and two or three shots of her own vodka.
O’Dell said he left after the woman became sick and talked about inviting someone else to her apartment.
After regaining consciousness at the hospital Dec. 30, the victim told sheriff’s deputies she recalled passing out fully clothed while O’Dell was the only other person in her apartment, court records said.
“She later woke up because she thought she was having a menstrual cramp,” Anderson read from the court document. “She went into the bathroom of her apartment and saw herself cut open in the mirror. She could see she was holding her intestines and panicked, falling into the bathtub.
“She ran out of her bathroom to get help by knocking on the neighbor’s door across the hall.”
Friday morning, five days after the razor victim’s statement, O’Dell voluntarily agreed to accompany sheriff’s deputies to their office for an interview, Anderson said. There, he told deputies his version of events.
O’Dell said he became “enraged” after listening to the victim arguing on the phone with her recent boyfriend about the future of their relationship. He grabbed a razor that he had seen earlier on her kitchen counter.
“O’Dell then showed detectives the motion he used to cut open (the victim), which was consistent with the injuries she sustained,” Anderson read. “O’Dell recalled seeing her intestines fall out of her abdomen on the living room floor of her apartment.”
He collected the beer bottles and left no later than 3 a.m. He woke up at home later to discover dried blood on his hands and shirt. He threw away the shirt and the bottles, the court records said.
Zahnd declined to say whether O’Dell had been considered a suspect in Shippert’s killing before the Dec. 26 assault.
When asked whether the razor attack victim’s statement had been the key to making an arrest, Anderson replied, “obviously, when you get eye-witness testimony, it’s very helpful.”
O’Dell is scheduled to be arraigned Monday in Platte County Circuit Court. He is being held in jail in lieu of $750,000 cash bail. O’Dell did not have an attorney as of Saturday, Zahnd said.
Both Zahnd and Anderson called the viciousness of the alleged crimes rare in Platte County.
“In my over nine years as a Platte County prosecuting attorney, we’ve only had the occasion to consider the death penalty in three cases and this is one,” Zahnd said.
Anderson said the razor attack victim is expected to recover.
“She was essentially disemboweled and she’s fortunate to be alive,” he said.