Fifth victim in KC trail case was less than a half block from home when slain

Steven Gibbons was returning home from the grocery store when a killer crept up and shot him in the back of the head Aug. 13 in Kansas City.

According to police, Gibbons, of Kansas City, never saw the gunman approach. He died a day and a half later after family members had him removed from life support at a hospital.

Prosecutors charged Fredrick Demond Scott in the killings of Gibbons, 57, and John Palmer, 54, after connecting him to the victims through DNA evidence. Scott is charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in each case.

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said Scott is also a suspect in three other killings along the Indian Creek and Blue River trail systems.

Gibbons, whose death was not among four unsolved killings previously linked by police, represented a fifth victim in the case. He was shot shortly after noon Aug. 13 in the 1100 block of East 67th Street, less than a block from his life-long residence.

On Tuesday, Gibbons’ mother, Delores, recounted the horror of that fateful afternoon.

“He was almost home,” she said.

Delores Gibbons, 80, said Steven routinely walked to a grocery store near Meyer and Troost, but would return home by bus.

Police found surveillance video showing Scott follow Gibbons off a KCATA bus before Gibbons was found shot. Detectives later linked Scott to the scene with DNA from a iced tea bottle and a cigarette butt.

“He took the same route every time,” Delores Gibbons said. “He would leave the house everyday, go down to Aldi’s (at Meyer and Troost), get what he needed to get, and then catch the bus back up the hill (to 67th Street) and walk down. He did that everyday.”

Gibbons’ sister, Donna, said she heard what she thought was a firecracker around the time her brother was shot.

“Little did I know it was a gunshot,” she said.

Still, Donna Gibbons said, she never thought Steven was on the ground gravely wounded.

“I think I’m still in shock to this day,” Donna Gibbons, 59, said. “I still can’t believe it. I mean, he almost made it back here. He was three houses from home.”

Delores Gibbons went into what she called “mom speak” to describe Steven Gibbons. She said he wasn’t able to work due to physical limitations, but was always willing to lend a hand.

“Anybody that knew him would tell you that he would give you the shirt off his back if he could,” Delores said. “He didn’t have much money or anything like that, but he would help anybody that asked.

“That’s what makes it so bad because he never did a bad thing to anybody that I ever knew.”

Steven Gibbons’ body was cremated, Delores said. She plans to write a small obituary on Friday now that charges have been filed against Steven’s suspected killer.

Gibbons leaves behind two daughters, ages 39 and 34, in addition to Delores and Donna.

Toriano Porter: 816-234-4779, @torianoporter