Crime

Young mother bound with duct tape, shot in head with toddler nearby: Murder charge

Elizabeth K. Richards and her son are pictured in a 2018 GoFundMe page created by her family to raise money for funeral expenses. Richards was found shot and killed with her son nearby unharmed.
Elizabeth K. Richards and her son are pictured in a 2018 GoFundMe page created by her family to raise money for funeral expenses. Richards was found shot and killed with her son nearby unharmed.

A 23-year-old Kansas City man has been charged with murder, accused of shooting the mother of his 2-year-old son Saturday after binding her with duct tape at his home.

The mother, 19-year-old Elizabeth Richards, was found shot through the head, her wrists bound behind her back and naked from the waist down. Her son was found nearby but apparently unharmed, according to court documents.

Richards had brought the child to visit the father, Joseph Gonsalez, who shared custody and lived with his parents at their home in the 11100 block of College Avenue. Gonsalez’s parents returned home to find Richards’ body about 11 a.m. and called police.

Officers found Gonsalez about three miles away with a gunshot wound in his abdomen and wearing no pants or shoes, according to police. He was taken to a hospital where he remained Tuesday, pending transfer to the Jackson County jail.

Jackson County prosecutors have charged Gonsalez with first-degree murder, armed criminal action, attempted armed criminal action and endangering the welfare of a child.

According to court documents, Gonsalez had arranged for Richards to drop the child off to visit him Saturday morning. He asked his parents to leave the house, leaving him home alone when Richards arrived.

While Gonsalez’s parents were out, his mother called him and could hear Gonsalez and Richards arguing, as she later told police. Then she heard a gunshot followed by silence.

The parents rushed back to the house to discover that Gonsalez was gone and Richards’ body lay in the front room with the child nearby.

The mother removed a strip of gray duct tape that covered Richards’ mouth. Richards’ wrists were bound behind her back with duct tape, with more duct tape encircling her torso, trapping her arms at her sides. Detectives found her underwear, pants, socks and boots in a bedroom, along with a loaded .38-caliber revolver from which two shots had been fired.

Police found a spent bullet in a bathroom in the house, and a receipt for duct tape purchased the day before at a hardware store. Later, detectives went to the store, where surveillance video showed Gonsalez buying the duct tape.

Gonsalez’s mother told police that she knew Gonsalez had recently bought a gun but that he had acted secretively about it.

Investigators learned that when Gonsalez was found shot in the 7100 block of E. 112th Street, he had been driving a Jeep that belong to Richards’ father, who had lent it to Richards. Detectives found blood in the Jeep.

Richards’ brother, Matt Richards, has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money to pay for Richards’ funeral and to help provide for her son.

Gonsalez is being held on a $250,000 cash bond.

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