Missing Overland Park teen Mikayla Norris may have been killed for her car by a man who was enraged over a broken relationship and was determined to kill his ex-girlfriend and her mother.
Bryanna Spencer told The Star Wednesday that her ex-boyfriend, Kareem McCoy-Lee, used Norris’ car the day before to chase Spencer — shooting at her as she was driving to a job interview in Liberty — before apparently taking his own life about a mile away. Not long after, police found Norris’ body at an address that McCoy-Lee, 22, posted on Facebook.
Spencer escaped with the help of a worker who happened to be nearby and said Wednesday that she felt burdened by the knowledge that McCoy-Lee’s plot against her claimed the life of 18-year-old Norris. She told a Star reporter about her ordeal, with her mother, DaVona Kirkwood, supplying additional details.
“I just feel guilty because she honestly had nothing to do with it,” Spencer said. “She was just innocent.”
The disappearance of Norris on Sunday, the search for the man driving her car, the attack on Spencer Tuesday followed by the discovery of two bodies and the revelation that they were connected — it all played out on Facebook in almost real time, with witnesses posting clues and photos while members of the two families connected the dots hour by hour.
Norris’ father, Mike Norris, wrote a Facebook post crediting the many social media users for helping police in the case.
“We 100% believe the fb (Facebook) mob everyone created led to her abductor taking his own life and post out on social media so our baby girl’s body could be found in a timely manner!” he wrote.
Police think the deaths of Norris and McCoy-Lee were a murder and a suicide.
Spencer, who said she did not know Norris, had been in a relationship with McCoy-Lee for about six months. The relationship became physically abusive, Spencer said. She became alarmed by his anger and violence.
She said McCoy-Lee’s mother had been killed in a domestic violence incident when he was 5 years old and that his father was in prison.
Two weeks ago, Spencer broke contact with McCoy-Lee after a violent incident. On Dec. 6 at McCoy-Lee’s home, he threatened her with a gun and a knife before beating her with a dumbbell, Spencer said. The gun turned out to be fake, she said, but the beating left a cut on her forehead that required stitches. She fled his home without her coat and shoes.
“I asked him to leave me alone,” Spencer said. “I blocked him on everything. And the fact that I didn’t want to be with him anymore, it really bothered him. And he felt like I was being disloyal and I deserved to die for the disrespect. And that’s what led to the incident yesterday.”
Tuesday, Spencer left home for a job interview in Liberty. McCoy-Lee apparently was parked in the cul-de-sac outside her home, staking out the house. He followed Spencer when she drove off, according to Kirkwood, her mother.
Kirkwood saw the car go by, but she didn’t know at the time it was McCoy-Lee.
While Spencer was driving in Liberty, McCoy-Lee pulled up beside her and started shooting.
“He shot at me, shot right through the window, shot right at my face,” she said. “The bullet went straight in front of my face.”
The car took two bullet holes.
She tried to speed away, but he gave chase. The area appeared deserted and Spencer feared she would be killed with no one to help her. Then she saw two workers changing light bulbs on a billboard near Stewart Road and Wilshire Boulevard.
One of them, Cody McDole, was standing at the base of the billboard while his partner was above working on the sign.
McDole said he watched the car chase unfold, thinking at first he was witnessing a road rage incident.
He saw Spencer crash her car into a tree, get out and run toward him, shouting, “Help me please, he’s trying to kill me,” as McCoy-Lee continued shooting.
McDole realized something more was happening, he said. “It was definitely an attempted murder.”
He let Spencer into his work truck and started backing it away from McCoy-Lee while calling police. McCoy-Lee left the area.
Police came, took their report and had Spencer’s car towed. While at a police station, Spencer and her family were alerted by an out-of-state relative that McCoy-Lee had posted on Facebook about the location of Norris’ body.
Facebook users following the developing situation Tuesday captured the post by “Kareem Getbig Lee” saying, “Body across from 8503 hillcrest rd, damn gun got jammed.”
Spencer and her mother alerted police at the station, who said they would make sure some officers went to check the area. That evening, after an extensive search by land and air, police found Norris’ body in a wooded area near the Hillcrest Road address.
Another McCoy-Lee Facebook post seemed to say he killed Norris only because he needed a car. He didn’t name Norris.
“White girl was just a pond (sic) for the car,” the post read.
Facebook posts — from a now-deleted page — suggested that McCoy-Lee blamed Spencer, saying “bryanna played with my emotions” and that “I was gone kill her and her momma.”
McCoy-Lee’s apparent Facebook post expressed anger at white people. “White people been … us up for years so just put it on the tab,” he wrote.
He was angry at Spencer and said a person “shouldn’t be able to play with your love and emotions without consequences, yeah a ‘innocent’ person got hurt but my main plan was to kill her (Spencer) for that unloyal sucka s---.”
When McCoy-Lee was found dead in Norris’ car about 10 p.m. Tuesday, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, it was behind the Academy Sports near Kansas Street and Interstate 35 in Liberty — about a mile away from the billboard.
McCoy-Lee’s grandmother, Marla Davis, helped raise him and said Wednesday she was heartbroken by the news.
“I’m very sad,” she said. “I’m sad not only for my grandson and my family — I’m sad for Mikayla’s family.
“I know he was having a hard time,” the grandmother continued. “He wasn’t the monster the Facebook people have made him out to be. … He just started escalating.”
Mike Norris said he hopes everyone says a prayer for the killer’s family.
“Even though what he did is non-redeeming through the eyes of the Lord. We must remind ourselves that he had friends and family as well and they are grieving for him. So, I will pray for strength for his family and friends.”
The Norris family and others had pushed the search for the missing teen aggressively on Facebook, posting information about her and imploring others to share. Hundreds did, while many more offered clues, hopes and later, condolences.
Norris thanked the many who responded. “Well friends and family, I can’t even begin to thank ALL OF YOU out there pulling and praying for the safe return of our baby girl.”
All the messages, calls, social media posts, shares, news reports and searches were appreciated and the family was thankful for everyone’s love and attention, he wrote.
What happened between the time Norris was last seen Sunday night and the events of Tuesday is unclear.
Overland Park police said on Tuesday they were searching for a “person of interest” after a man was seen driving Norris’ car — a 2007 black four door Toyota Camry with Kansas license tag of 566 FSB.
The man, who appears to be McCoy-Lee, was captured in surveillance camera photo in Gladstone earlier Tuesday.
About 1 p.m. Tuesday, a family member of Norris’ posted to Facebook that a friend had spotted Norris’ car at the QuikTrip at Northeast 72nd Street and North Prospect Avenue in Gladstone.
The friend who spotted the car snapped a quick picture of the man at a gas pump outside the car. He apparently noticed her taking the picture and pulled out a gun, according to Facebook posts.
As the friend called the police, the car sped away, heading the wrong way on Prospect, which is also known as Missouri 1.
The friend said Norris was not seen inside the car.
During the time she was missing, Norris’ family believed that she was in danger because it was unusual to not hear from her. She had last been seen around 8:30 p.m. Sunday in the 9500 block of Metcalf Avenue at her workplace, Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue.
Case Dorman, president of the barbecue restaurant, said Norris had worked there part-time as a hostess for about nine months.
“She had a lot of close friendships on our team and she was a part of our family here,” Dorman said.
Asked how her co-workers were taking the news, Dorman said, “It’s crushing. … What we know is she’s a sweet young lady who had friendships here and a lot of people who cared about her and we’re devastated.
“We pray for her family.”
As news of the two deaths and their connections spread, through Facebook and otherwise, families of Spencer and Norris connected.
Members of the two families began speaking by phone Wednesday. Spencer’s family said they hoped, when the time was right, to visit the Norris family in person, and perhaps attend Mikayla Norris’ memorial service.