Crime

Raytown mom called cops on ex, was killed hours later. Did police do enough to help?

On a March evening, 44-year-old Rita Moore-Edmond ordered pizza for her teenage son who just came home from track practice.

Her plan was to relax and spend the evening with her son and her boyfriend at their Raytown apartment. A mother of three and a grandmother of four, Moore-Edmond cherished family time, especially now.

She was looking forward to her son’s high school graduation, which was just a little more than two months away.

With her two other grown children out of the house, he would be the last to leave. He talked about going to college. Whatever path he chooses, she won’t be there to see it.

Around the time the family’s pizza was to be delivered, there was a knock at the door.

The teenage son answered, coming face-to-face with a man he knew as his mother’s ex-boyfriend, Clifton Jack.

Jack forced his way in — upset, a police report said, that Moore-Edmond was seeing someone else.

Moore-Edmond called 911.

Jack left the apartment before police arrived. Instead of seeking him out, police called Jack, ordering him not to return — a move family members say wasn’t enough to deter the man who had been harassing their mother since he got out of jail and was placed on probation.

The police officers explained to Moore-Edmond steps to obtain a protection order.

Then they left — 16 minutes after they had arrived.

Within hours, Jack returned, this time with a gun, shooting Moore-Edmond and her boyfriend to death and then turning the gun on himself, police say.

Moore-Edmond’s older children can’t help but wonder if things could have turned out differently if police had caught their mother’s suspected abuser the night before the killings.

“If they were really looking into it, they should have looked at the background on him and my mother,” said Asiaunna Hopkins, Moore-Edmond’s 21-year-old daughter.

Jack had a history of harassing and threatening Moore-Edmond — once with a gun, she said.

One expert in intimate partner violence suggests police could have stopped Jack that night had they focused on him, but “because it was a domestic and because our expectation is it is her responsibility” — as well as other victims’ responsibility — to take charge of their safety, police “didn’t do anything.”

“I’m not blaming the officers. It’s not that they were bad people and they dismissed her,” said David Kennedy, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. “It’s just the way people think about this stuff.”

The Raytown Police Department declined to participate in an interview about the case and its domestic violence policy, issuing a short statement by email:

“Our condolences go out to the families of the victims of this senseless act perpetrated by the charged individual. Because those particular homicides are still being investigated and charges have been filed, we are unable to discuss any circumstances surrounding the incident or anyone involved.”

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Rita Moore-Edmond and Rodney Brundige. Courtesy of the family

History of violence

For a little while, it was just the four of them: Moore-Edmond and her three kids.

More than a decade ago, Moore-Edmond had picked up her life and moved away from her childhood home in rural southeastern Missouri — the Bootheel. She lived in the Kansas City area for a year by herself first before making the decision to pick up the kids from her parents’ place in Homestown and bring them with her.

“She just wanted to try something different and get away from everybody,” DaJuan Blackman, Moore-Edmond’s 24-year-old son recalled. “We’re the only ones up here as far as our family goes. Just us and our mom and that was it.”

Blackman and Hopkins don’t remember how their mother met Jack, but the two knew each other for 13 or 14 years. The children knew he was a Marine veteran who worked on cars. Trouble started in the first few years of the relationship.

Moore-Edmond called Raytown police on July 14, 2010, after, she said, Jack pointed a handgun at her, according to police records.

Blackman, a teenager at the time, said he remembers hearing his mother arguing with Jack through the walls late that night. He said he left his room to see what was going on, opened the couple’s bedroom door and saw Jack “had the gun to my momma’s face.” He went into another room with his sister and his grandmother, locked the door and the police were called.

Jack left the home but police records indicate he tried to return.

Raytown police were called again Dec. 29, 2011, after Jack had “grabbed” Blackman the night before, records said. Blackman said Jack tried to choke him during an argument.

Moore-Edmond and her son left the house afterward. She told police she went back to get some clothes but Jack “changed the locks and slammed the door.” At the time, Moore-Edmond told police Jack had pulled a gun on her in the past.

A police officer, in a conversation with Moore-Edmond, brought up the idea of getting a protection order, records show.

“I talked with her for a while about an ex-parte and how that could vastly help her situation and help us deal with future issues,” the officer wrote in an activity log in 2011.

“I gave her step-by-step instructions and where to go to apply for one. She said she would try that.”

No charges were filed following those incidents.

A review of Jack’s criminal history shows he’s been convicted of multiple traffic-related felonies in Jackson County between 2014 and 2018: leaving the scene of a crash, tampering with a vehicle and three counts of driving while intoxicated.

Jack was placed on probation after pleading guilty last year to two counts of DWI. As part of the special conditions of his probation, a Jackson County judge ordered Jack in October not to possess or drink alcohol, not to drive, and to serve 120 days “shock time” in the county jail.

A driving record obtained through the Missouri Department of Revenue lists Jack’s status as “revoked” and details traffic violations that go back 10 years, including DWI and driving while suspended or revoked.

‘Get away’

Jack’s legal woes in part led to Moore-Edmond leaving after their years-long, on-again-off-again relationship.

Tired of Jack’s stints in jail, Moore-Edmond left him. Her son Blackman said he was relieved.

Soon after, she moved into an apartment in Raytown with a man she was dating, Rodney Brundige, whom she met through her job as a vendor with a merchandising company.

The apartment was temporary, and Moore-Edmond had plans of her own, the son said.

She just wanted to get away, pack up and go back home to the Bootheel of Missouri after her youngest son graduated high school, she told her older son.

But trouble began again in the days prior to her death.

On March 10, Moore-Edmond changed her number to keep Jack from contacting her, and she bought a new cellphone, replacing one that contained “threatening” messages, court records said.

But Jack continued to reach out through her children.

The next day, Jack offered to give Marvin Hopkins, Moore-Edmond’s teenage son, a ride home from track practice at Raytown South High School.

The teen said he accepted, and Jack dropped him off outside The Park at Westridge Apartments where Marvin and his mother lived.

Jack wouldn’t have known which apartment Moore-Edmond lived in, but Blackman thinks it’s possible Jack waited and watched where the teen went.

Marvin told police he got home and his mother ordered pizza for dinner.

About half an hour later, Jack showed up at the door, making his way inside and prompting Moore-Edmond to call the police.

Jack wasn’t at the apartment by the time police arrived.

The officers learned that Jack, a revoked driver, was driving a red 1999 Chevrolet pickup truck with “Marine” stickers on the back window.

One officer reached Jack by phone. Jack talked of wanting money Moore-Edmond “owed” him, and at one point told the officer, “I’m not afraid of going to jail,” court records said.

Moore-Edmond told police Jack had been harassing her since they split up last September.

The officers explained to her the steps of obtaining a protection order, and they left.

Then the messages came.

Jack soon sent texts to two of Moore-Edmond’s children. The messages talked of wanting “payback for everything.”

“Tell your mom and him I coming for them,” one message read, according to court records.

Surrounded by her children that night, Moore-Edmond promised she would get off work — maybe even leave earlier than usual — to go downtown and request a protection order. It would have been the next in a long line of steps she took to try to protect herself.

Less than 11 hours later, before 6 a.m. on March 12, Jack’s truck was parked outside a plumbing business within a half-mile of Moore-Edmond’s apartment.

Someone exited from the driver’s seat and walked in the direction of the apartment, surveillance video obtained by police showed.

Marvin Hopkins woke up to the sound of glass breaking. Jack had broken into the apartment through a sliding door, Blackman later said.

The teen heard one gunshot.

He opened his bedroom door and saw Jack standing in the hallway with a rifle, shooting Brundige, he would later tell police.

Jack then turned the gun on himself and pulled the trigger.

The teen called 911.

Inside, police found Moore-Edmond and 49-year-old Brundige lying on their bedroom floor with gunshot wounds. Moore-Edmond had been shot in the arm. Brundige was shot in the back. Both died.

Located next to Moore-Edmond was 45-year-old Jack, who responded to police officers’ questions. Court records said Jack told police he had shot himself.

A flawed system for victims?

A national expert in intimate partner violence suggests the killings could have been prevented had police focused on Jack and not Moore-Edmond.

Kennedy, the John Jay College professor and director of the National Network for Safe Communities, developed a program Jackson County is looking to imitate, aiming to reduce intimate partner violence.

Kennedy says abusers who become persistent and dangerous have “a very strong tendency to be chronic offenders,” not only when it comes to domestic violence but also in other types of crime.

Kennedy says victims are held responsible for their own safety and the criminal justice system “overwhelmingly” relies on victims to take action, which “in the case of these most dangerous abusers, very often exposes her to further risk.

“We want her to call the police, we want her to cooperate with prosecutors, we want her to come in and testify, we want her to take out restraining orders, we want her to do more, and for these most dangerous abusers, those things do not work,” Kennedy said.

And the consequences are deadly.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, citing crime data in the United States, reports that “over 40% of female homicide victims in the U.S. are killed by an intimate partner.”

According to the Raytown Police Department’s domestic violence policy, officers are required to provide information regarding protection orders and safety options “in all cases of domestic abuse.”

Furthermore, the policy says officers are required to prepare a complaint against the suspect if they have probable cause for an arrest. And if the suspect has left the scene by the time police arrive, officers are supposed to mail a “general ordinance summons” to the suspect.

While it’s unknown if police planned to prepare a complaint or mail a summons after the disturbance at Moore-Edmond’s apartment, court records said two police officers explained to Moore-Edmond how to obtain a protection order after she called for help on March 11.

But Kennedy suggests that, when someone is hurting or terrorizing another person, “we should make him stop, not look at her. When we know the things that we do to make him stop won’t work, we need to think of something else.”

Kennedy points to his program, Intimate Partner Violence Intervention, which focuses on deterring abusers by setting up communities to watch for repeat, dangerous offenders.

The Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office announced in April it would be launching a collaborative initiative modeled after the program in an effort to prevent domestic violence-related homicides. While still in development, the prosecutor’s office shared with The Star some strategies it was considering, including having authorities “identify unrelated crimes committed by an offender as a way to put them in jail” and requiring offenders “to attend ‘call-in’ meetings” with law enforcement.

In the case of Moore-Edmond, police knew Jack: He was on probation, Kennedy points out.

“This could have been really easy … He could have been picked up and held if people had put the facts together and cared enough to do it. What that means in practice is you have to be looking for these guys,” Kennedy said.

“It’s probably very difficult for patrol officers to show up at a scene, look at what’s in front of them and make a judgment that of all the incidents that they and their department are responding to, this is the one that really matters. You need more than that snapshot.”

‘Stick together’

Jack survived a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest, was taken to a hospital and later was charged with two counts of first-degree murder and armed criminal action in Jackson County Circuit Court. He is accused of gunning down Moore-Edmond and Brundige. An arraignment is scheduled June 13.

A public defender assigned to represent Jack in the case declined to comment on the charges. A letter sent to Jack, who remains in jail, went unanswered.

“With this happening, I just don’t understand. You were seeing other people,” Asiaunna Hopkins said of Jack. “But you didn’t want my momma with no one else.

“It’s just something you never would have thought of. I never would have thought that he would have did this to my mom, even after all the times he did what he did. I just never would have thought.”

The siblings can’t get their mother off their minds some days. Her smile. Her laugh. Her goofiness.

They remember Moore-Edmond as the parent who rooted for her sons at their football games and track meets.

She became a proud grandmother when Hopkins had her first child at the age of 17. “She was upset because I was so young, but she was happy at the same time,” Hopkins recalled.

They think of Brundige, who they had just become acquainted with last fall. A “standup guy,” they said, a man who made their mother laugh.

Blackman says their mother spent every other day — at least every Sunday — with her children and grandchildren, cooking dinner, going out or watching football games.

Feelings of loneliness set in.

“Lately, I’ve been going out in public and I’ve been seeing people with their momma and that used to be me, and it’s not a jealousy thing,” Hopkins said. “but it’s weird. Just weird.”

The family says police officers who initially responded to their mother’s home should have located Jack before he had the chance to come back and kill their mother and her boyfriend.

“He should have been sought out or they should have made some type of physical contact with him, and they didn’t,” Blackman said. “I feel like if they would have, the outcome would have been different.”

Days after the killings, the family held onto each other before sunset outside Moore-Edmond’s apartment as friends released dozens of purple — the color signifying domestic violence awareness — and black balloons.

Leading the vigil, Shanta Blackman called her mother-in-law one of her best friends. Their families became even closer when Shanta Blackman married Moore-Edmond’s oldest son, DaJuan, in January.

The daughter-in-law said Moore-Edmond loved her children and her grandchildren “unconditionally,” and always brought with her “good energy.”

Moore-Edmond was happy, Shanta Blackman said, she had moved on with her life, “and he (Jack) couldn’t take it.”

“At the end of the day, he still broke into her house. At the end of the day, you (police) could have went searching for that man because he still broke in her house, he was not supposed to be there,” Shanta Blackman said at the vigil. “Now the fact that she’s gone, now what?”

They aren’t sure what comes next, but one thing is certain: Moore-Edmond’s children need each other.

Hopkins says her mother always reminded them: “Stick together, no matter what happens.”

“Now that she’s gone, that’s kind of speaking with me,” Hopkins said. “We’re all we got, so we all just have to stick together.”

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Kaitlyn Schwers covers breaking news and crime at night for The Kansas City Star. Originally from Willard, Mo., she spent nearly three years reporting in Arkansas and Illinois before returning to Missouri and joining The Star in 2017.
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