Crime

Slain Liberty man found after fire is recalled as a friend, a father and a pastor

Yvette and Darron Washington both died in tragic circumstances. Yvette was killed in a 2011 traffic accident and Darron’s body was found outside a Liberty apartment building during an investigation into a fire.
Yvette and Darron Washington both died in tragic circumstances. Yvette was killed in a 2011 traffic accident and Darron’s body was found outside a Liberty apartment building during an investigation into a fire. Courtesy of the family

Since 2006, Darron Washington maintained a strict weekly routine.

The 49-year-old widower and father of four worked the day shift from Monday through Thursday at the Ford Claycomo plant. Each Friday he would make the 250-mile drive from his Liberty apartment to St. Louis so he could be in the pulpit of his church Sunday morning.

“He loved doing it. He may have gotten tried of the driving, but never the routine,” his youngest daughter, Darnisha Washington, said Friday.

Police found Darron Washington’s body outside an apartment building in the 200 block of Wilshire Boulevard early Tuesday after firefighters extinguished a blaze that investigators said was set intentionally.

“It was really devastating,” Darnisha Washington said. “We would like to know: Why did this happen to our dad? He was a very good person.”

No arrests have been made. Police are continuing their investigation, Capt. Andy Hedrick said Friday.

Someone took Darron Washington’s red 2013 Ford Fusion from the apartment complex. The St. Louis Police Department found the vehicle, unoccupied, later Tuesday in west St. Louis.

Washington, who worked for Ford more than 28 years, agreed to transfer from St. Louis to the Claycomo plant. There were other job offers at plants in Chicago and Kentucky, but the Kansas City assignment allowed Washington the flexibility of weekly visits back to his native St. Louis.

“He would arrive home every Friday around 6 p.m.,” said daughter Latricia Washington. “He would drive straight through and only stop for gas. He was truly dedicated to his family and to his church.”

Washington graduated from Beaumont High School in St. Louis before briefly attending college. Ordained a minister in 1997, he was the senior pastor of the New St. Louis Park Baptist Church.

“He was a friend and a pastor,” said Wilmer Strong, a church member since 1991. “Our lives have turned upside down since this happened.”

Washington mentored young men in his community, including one who recently asked Washington if he could stay briefly with him at his Liberty apartment. Latricia Washington said her father didn’t hesitate, offering the young man a place to stay.

In 2011, Washington’s wife, Yvette Marie Washington, died while riding in a vehicle driven by a woman who had been drinking. They crashed into a light pole.

With Darron Washington’s death Tuesday, the children have lost both parents tragically.

“We have been raised in the church and we look at it that it was God’s will and that it was his time,” said Latricia Washington. “But back to reality, it is messing us up. He was all we had.”

To reach Glenn E. Rice, call 816-234-4341 or send email to grice@kcstar.com.

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