Crime

Family reels after KC man — a free-spirited, self-described ‘hobo’ — dies in ax attack

Kevin Waters’ family remembers him as loving father, free-spirited man

Kevin Waters, 52, was near the Sheffield Family Life Center, a church in Kansas City’s northeast area when he was killed after being attacked with an ax.
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Kevin Waters, 52, was near the Sheffield Family Life Center, a church in Kansas City’s northeast area when he was killed after being attacked with an ax.

Those who knew Kevin Waters describe him as a free spirit who loved being outdoors, enjoying nature and hunting for arrowheads.

Waters frequently hit the road, choosing to sleep on the streets or in the woods when home life proved too confining, they said.

“He called himself a hobo,” Waters’ brother Tim Waters said this week. “He would say, ‘Tim, I know I have a family. I know I have a home but I want to be free.’”

Which is why his violent end was so devastating.

Waters, 52, was found early Aug. 6 in the parking lot behind the Sheffield Family Life Center, a church in Kansas City’s northeast area when he was killed after being attacked with an ax.

Police said Waters woke up as two men fought nearby.

Court documents tell this story: Michael McLin, 56, and Mario Markworth, 22, were struggling when Markworth allegedly picked up McLin and dropped him on the pavement, causing his head to strike Markworth’s ax on the ground.

Concerned that McLin would tell someone what happened, Markworth allegedly said he struck McLin four times in the head with the axe. McLin died from the wounds.

Lying nearby was Waters, who apparently caught Markworth’s eye as he awoke.

Prosecutors allege Markworth killed McLin in an argument over drugs, and that he attacked Waters because he believed Waters saw McLin being killed.

McLin and Waters both had head trauma and cuts. One had defensive wounds on his hands, while the other appeared to have been bitten.

Police initially said both men had been stabbed, but Markworth allegedly told detectives that he used an ax, according to court records.

When police arrested Markworth, he was wearing a backpack with an ax in it that had blood on it. Markworth also had McLin’s debit card, prosecutors allege.

Markworth was charged with four counts in the killings, including two counts of second-degree murder.

“I never expected something like to ever happen to him, never,” said Waters’ ex-wife, Samantha Butner. “Maybe natural causes for something like this to happen, no. I don’t understand it, I am so confused.”

Kevin Waters fishing.JPG
Kevin Waters, 52, was found dead Aug. 6 in the parking lot behind the Sheffield Life Center at Ninth Street and Winner Road after he was attacked by another man with an axe. Courtesy of family

Waters was raised in Kansas City and was the father of three children, a daughter and two sons. Growing up, Waters lived in foster care but frequently ran away from home. He attended high school but never graduated.

In 1996, Waters married Butner after they met at his brother’s house. Waters was on house arrest after he was released from prison on a stealing conviction, Butner said.

“It was love at first sight,” she said. “He was an amazing man.”

The marriage didn’t last long. The couple frequently argued and fought. Waters eventually left home and traveled to Apache Junction, Arizona, to be with his older brother, Tim.

While there, Waters worked at a landfill but soon grew homesick and returned to Kansas City.

Elizabeth Waters said her father was loving and caring man who would do anything for his children.

“He was a pretty down to earth guy and he had a good heart,” she said.

Tim Waters said his brother was caring and funny.

“He would give you the shirt off his back,” he said. “If someone is down and out, he would try to bring them back up.”

He said he is stunned by his brother’s death. He called him “fearless.”

Waters was cremated and friends and relatives held a memorial service for him on Friday.

Kevin Waters’ ex-fiance, Denise Baker, told FOX4 that Waters loved the Kansas City Royals and Chiefs. They met several years ago at a Salvation Army shelter when they were both homeless.

“It’s horrible how Kevin died,” Baker said. “It’s just horrible. Nobody deserves that. Nobody.”

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Glenn E. Rice covers crime, courts and breaking news for The Kansas City Star, where he’s worked since 1988. Rice is a Kansas City native and a graduate of the University of Central Missouri.
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