Family and colleagues say farewell to crime scene investigator

Kansas City crime scene investigator Michael Chou showed kindness to everyone, including people he helped put in jail.

Chou, 29, plucked hairs from suspects, stuck cotton swabs in their mouths and confiscated their clothes as evidence.

“And then they’d say, ‘Thank you,’” said co-worker Robert Blehm. “That’s how likable he was.”

Blehm was among hundreds of mourners who exchanged hugs and stories about Chou at his memorial service Wednesday at the police training academy in the Northland. Chou died early Saturday after a suspected drunken driver who was speeding plowed into Chou’s car as he pulled out of the crime lab parking lot at 66th Street and Troost Avenue. He had just finished his night shift.

Jackson County prosecutors charged the driver, Larneal D. Davis, 28, a convicted drug dealer, with involuntary manslaughter.

It wasn’t the first time Davis has been accused of killing someone. Prosecutors charged him with murder in connection with a 2004 shooting death of an innocent bystander, but they dismissed the case in 2010 after witnesses — most of whom had homicide convictions — refused to testify, prosecutors said.

Working for the Police Department was a childhood dream for Chou, said his relatives, who spoke to reporters before the memorial service. Chou earned a bachelor’s in molecular and cellular biology, a master’s in forensic science advanced investigations and was working toward his doctorate.

With his education, drive and work ethic, crime lab director Linda Netzel said, “he could have been running the place in 10 years.”

Instead, police escorted his casket to a funeral home Wednesday, where his remains were cremated. His relatives planned to take his remains back to his hometown of Naperville, Ill.

Chou was born in Taiwan and came to the U.S. when he was 6, according to his father, Andrew Chou. He came to Kansas City two years ago for the job opening at the crime lab.

A quick learner with a knack for details, he loved the challenges and unpredictability of the job, co-workers said.

Other agencies tried to recruit him, but he was fiercely loyal to Kansas City and had made treasured friendships, said his sister, Katherine Chou.

Michael Chou came from a close-knit family. He announced a few years ago that he wanted them to vacation together annually. He drew up the plans, and they took their first trip to Egypt.

“That was our first and last,” his father said, breaking down in tears.

After Michael died, his relatives found a list he had made of places he wanted to visit.

He checked off a few places last year, his sister said. But many remain.

“The places he wasn’t able to go, we’re going to go for him,” Katherine Chou said.