Those were new white cushions on Charles Wofford's patio furniture, neatly arrayed. His sister could tell: He was readying his house for Memorial Day weekend fun.
But then again, most weekends were fun at "Chucky's" house.
"He'd be getting his big-screen TV out there," Ella Strong said. NBA playoffs with his friends — and then the usual pool games in his basement. Men having fun.
But the mystery begins in the front of his Kansas City home on this block of wide lawns and rolling streets in east Kansas City's Sheraton Estates.
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Two neat rows of cut grass show he had started mowing his yard Saturday in the 5200 block of Lawn Avenue. But Wofford was nowhere to be seen when his friend John Clay pulled up at the house around 3:30 p.m.
Clay said he regularly stopped by on his way to a convenience store, seeing if Wofford wanted him to play some lottery numbers for him. But Wofford didn't emerge when Clay honked.
He walked past the uncut grass, up the driveway and stepped inside an unlocked door, calling, "Chuck?"
Wofford was lying in a hallway, shot dead.
There lay the man who went by many nicknames, Clay said — "Champ," "Shot-Blocker" and, in reference to the way he would "cut and slice" his competition at the pool table, "the Surgeon Specialist."
"I don't know how someone could walk into that house and do that to him," Clay said. "I'd never seen him have a problem with anybody."
The 57-year-old Wofford had lots of friends. He knew lots of people, his sister said. Whatever his plans were with his friends at his house, he had promised he would come by her house to drop in on the family's holiday barbecue Monday, she said.
"He loved his family," Strong said.
Wofford was the fifth of six siblings — the baby brother — she said. He went to Seven Oaks Elementary School, then Central Middle and Central High School. He had jobs with Hallmark and as a steelworker; was formerly married, and had a daughter who lives in Los Angeles.
He liked to win at everything, be it pool or basketball (when his knees were good), dominoes or ping-pong.
But while he showed little mercy in games, kindness and generosity marked his friendships, Clay said.
The two men met in a show of kindness, Clay said.
Clay and his wife had moved to Kansas City from Long Beach, California, to help care for aging parents. Clay had never driven on snow before his first Midwest winter in 2010. Wofford stepped over to Clay, a stranger in a car, with driving advice when Clay was spinning all wrong trying to crest one of the many hills in his neighborhood.
"We've been friends ever since," Clay said.
Wofford often wore a ball cap that said "God's Team," Clay said. And when pool games got intense and one of the players would swear, Wofford would typically place a hand on his shoulder and say, "Excuse him, Lord."
It rubbed off on his friends, Clay said. "Anytime you see someone making an effort to be right, in turn you want to follow," he said. "Goodness was in his heart."
This week, as his family and friends in his old neighborhood at 37th and Bales Avenue piece together their memories, they lament that it was "Chucky" who had the best memory of all.
"He remembered everything," said Willie Mosley, who knew Wofford since they were children at what he called "the Boys' Club," now the Boys and Girls Club of America at 43rd Street and Cleveland Avenue.
Nothing prepared the family for what has happened, his sister, Strong, said.
"He wasn't sick," she said. "What's so hard is you get a call that he's gone, and then you go over and it's an investigation of murder homicide."
They had to watch Saturday night from outside the strings of yellow police tape. Then they returned Sunday to look through the house that he had been readying for guests.
"We're praying to God they find who did it," Strong said.
"There were six of us," she said, counting the siblings. "Now the chain is broken. One is gone."
Anyone with information is asked to call the Crime Stoppers Hotline, 816-474-TIPS (8477).