Crime

Man found dead in Northland home was Kansas School for the Deaf alum, just turned 35, mom says

Firefighters, police investigate body in burning house

Firefighters found a body in a burning home Sunday in the 5600 block of North Poe Street in Kansas City, North. Police initially responded to reports of a shooting there.
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Firefighters found a body in a burning home Sunday in the 5600 block of North Poe Street in Kansas City, North. Police initially responded to reports of a shooting there.

Matthew Calkins, a Johnson County man who was a 2002 graduate of the Kansas School for the Deaf, has been identified by police as the victim of a recent homicide in the Northland.

Kansas City police said Calkins’ body was found while firefighters were extinguishing a fire in the basement of a home on May 5.

Police have not said how Calkins died.

Diane Calkins-Scroggins, Calkins’ mother, said she last saw her son the day after his birthday, when she took him out to dinner. He turned 35 on April 23. A few days prior, he attended an Easter service at church with his family.

Since her son died, Calkins-Scroggins said she’s received several messages from people who knew him, describing him as “kind,” the type of person who “stood up” for others if they were getting picked on.

Calkins grew up in Tucson, Arizona, where he attended the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind for eight years, his mother said. She wanted her son to receive “a really good education” and was impressed with the graduation rate at the Kansas School for the Deaf, so the family sold their home and decided to move, she said. Calkins took some vocational classes after he graduated and remained in the Kansas City area.

Calkins was living in Gardner with his mother prior to his death.

Following his birthday dinner last month, Calkins-Scroggins recalled her son giving her “a big ol’ bear hug” and leaving to meet up with some friends.

Calkins-Scroggins said she had talked to her son a couple of times since the dinner. She asked when he would come home, but she never received a response, she said.

Police said they were called to a Northland home in the 5600 block of North Poe Street at about 5:30 p.m. May 5 after someone reported the sound of gunshots.

When police officers arrived, they saw a fire in the basement. Firefighters putting out the blaze found a body. On Friday, the body was identified by police as Calkins.

Calkins’ death is being investigated as a homicide. A suspect was taken into custody, police announced May 6, and charges are expected to be filed early next week.

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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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