Self-defense? Family wants facts about KC-area man’s July shooting death in his home

The family back home in Indiana was first alerted on social media, days after the fact, that Todd McGraw had been shot and killed in the Kansas City area.

From hundreds of miles away, they had trouble finding out more information from McGraw’s wife, who police said was a witness to the shooting.

Three months later the family still doesn’t know what happened, said McGraw’s aunt Sharon Barnes. And it still doesn’t sit right that they found out about it only through a cryptic message on McGraw’s Facebook page: “R.I.P. Todd.”

“Kind of a shocking way to learn,” Barnes said.

There wasn’t even a funeral, Barnes said. The body was already cremated before the extended family made it to town.

What is known for certain is McGraw, 50, was shot in the head in his Raytown home. The initial report police took from his wife suggests the killing was done in self-defense.

But family members are skeptical of that and have been waiting since July for the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office to decide whether to file charges.

Mike Mansur, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, said earlier this month that prosecutors were trying to reach some more people before releasing their decision.

Until charges are filed or the case is closed, no more public documents from the investigation and autopsy will be available to show them what really happened.

McGraw’s wife did not respond to The Star’s requests for comment. Witnesses reached by the newspaper declined to talk about what happened.

todd mcgraw photo
Todd McGraw of Raytown Courtesy of his family

Shooting in Raytown

Originally from Brownsburg, Indiana, McGraw came to Kansas City more than 20 years ago.

He studied law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and became an attorney in 2000. Drug problems derailed his law career, but McGraw sought help and went to rehab, Barnes, his aunt, said. He “straightened his life out” and later went to work for Reeves-Wiedeman, a Kansas City-area wholesale plumbing supplies company.

He remained there for 12 years and became district manager. He had two daughters, ages 10 and 11, and another daughter in college.

In the last few years of his life, McGraw lived with his wife and stepson in a house in the 8400 block of Elm Avenue.

It was at that house the shooting was reported to the Raytown Police Department just before 11:50 p.m. on July 18.

Police officers responded to the home about four minutes after the call was made.

They were told McGraw had been shot in the head.

The reporting party was “advising her husband was shot by her son in self-defense, he was attacking her,” call notes from police stated.

“The gun is back in the (reporting party’s) purse,” the notes continued.

Four potential witnesses were listed in the report, including McGraw’s wife and teenage stepson.

Police took one person into custody at the time, but that person was released, a police spokesman told The Star days after the shooting.

Barnes has asked the police department for reports, she asked the medical examiner for an autopsy and called prosecutors in hopes of learning more details about what happened to her nephew.

Barnes says police told her family McGraw was unarmed and shot in the back of the head — “a huge red flag for me,” she adds.

The police department said it would not release more details while the case was still open.

“This is really hurting my heart. This is hurting my heart because he wasn’t a violent person,” Barnes said.

“Todd was my mom’s firstborn grandchild. I have baby pictures of him. I held him the day he was born. I babysat for him when my sister and her husband would go out.”

Todd McGraw
Past photos of Todd McGraw are laid out on a table during a memorial in Lee’s Summit on Sept. 19, 2019. McGraw, 50, was fatally shot in his home in July. Kaitlyn Schwers The Kansas City Star

Memorial held for victim

Last month, McGraw’s employer, the Reeves-Wiedeman Company, hosted a memorial for him at a sports bar in Lee’s Summit, inviting friends, customers and family members from out of town.

Brian Priest, a co-worker, said McGraw served as a mentor to him and trained him on the job. McGraw often worked after hours and “challenged the status quo,” coming up with ways to better serve their customers, Priest said.

“Very few people do that because most people, when work is over, it’s done. They move on with their day,” Priest said. “He was always thinking about ways to help out everybody.”

McGraw’s death came as a complete shock, Priest said. He was on vacation when he heard the news.

“I just lost all ability to speak,” Priest said. “We miss him, and it’s not going to be the same without him, that’s for sure.”

Whether charges are filed or not, McGraw’s family says they just want to know the truth about what happened that night.

“Todd doesn’t have a voice; he’s dead. The only other two or three people who were in the house that night, that’s all they (police) have to go on …,” Barnes said.

“There are pieces of this puzzle that are missing, and I would like some answers.”


How we did this story

The Star wrote about the fatal shooting when it was initially announced by Raytown police in July. The newspaper later interviewed the victim’s aunt during a Sept. 19 memorial and obtained an incident report from the police department through a records request. The newspaper reached out to the victim’s wife and other witnesses listed on the incident report.

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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.