Woman allegedly killed by suspected Indian Creek Trail serial killer was homeless

Karen Harmeyer
Karen Harmeyer

It’s been nearly three months since Karen Harmeyer was found dead in a patch of Grandview woods, but her body remains unclaimed at the county morgue.

Harmeyer was the victim of an alleged serial killer, a 22-year-old Kansas City man charged with two other murders and suspected in three more, four near Indian Creek Trail in south Kansas City.

The 64-year-old Harmeyer lived in a tent in a wooded area behind a church in the 12200 block of Blue Ridge Boulevard.

Her body was found July 19 with her feet protruding from the tent by several people who checked on her regularly, according to a Grandview police report.

The report does not state how she died.

But last week, Jackson County prosecutors announced that they had charged Fredrick Scott with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in Harmeyer’s death.

Scott was previously charged with killing two men in Kansas City in 2016 and 2017, and prosecutors said he is a suspect and being investigated in the killings of three other men.

Prosecutors have not released any details of what evidence allegedly links Scott to Harmeyer’s killing.

The two men he is charged with killing were both shot to death, as were the three other victims in the cases where Scott is a suspect.

Four of those six homicides occurred on or around the Indian Creek Trail in south Kansas City. Harmeyer was the only woman among the six homicide victims.

Charles Sexton was one of the people who called police after finding her body.

Sexton had known Harmeyer for about 10 years, and said she was an educated woman who was “living the life she wanted to live.”

“I would say she had a complex personality,” he said.

He believes she was originally from Wisconsin, but had been wandering around the country for years before coming to the Kansas City area.

Alcohol was her vice, though for the most part she was a “friendly drunk,” he said.

Sexton said that she wasn’t a “mooch,” and had turned down payment for giving plasma.

“She was very giving,” Sexton said. “A very sweet lady.”

Dennis Capra, pastor of Faith Ministries in Grandview, said Harmeyer had lived intermittently in the woods behind his church for several years.

For the most part she was pleasant and friendly, but could become verbally aggressive when she drank, he said.

He and some of the members of his congregation would give her food, a cup of coffee or provide other help when they could.

Harmeyer told people that she had once worked as a nurse, Capra said, but he didn’t know where or how long ago.

Bill Ginenthal knew Harmeyer through his wife, who had befriended her through the Grandview doughnut shop where she worked.

“She was a character,” Ginenthal said of Harmeyer.

Harmeyer would wash dishes or do other odd jobs around the doughnut shop for a few dollars, he said.

“She was a good lady, a nice person,” he said.

Officials at the Jackson County Medical Examiner’s Office have been unable to find any family members of Harmeyer to contact, a spokeswoman said.

Anyone with information about Harmeyer’s family call the medical examiner’s office at 816-881-6600.

Jackson County prosecutors on Tuesday filed murder charges against Fredrick Demond Scott, a 22-year-old Kansas City man in the shooting deaths of Steven Gibbons and John Palmer. Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker also named Scott as a sus

Tony Rizzo: 816-234-4435, @trizzkc