A closer look at the young lives lost

Jamie Hernandez-Zubia
Jamie Hernandez-Zubia

Joseph Fletcher, 1

Joseph Fletcher died with his mother and her friend in a shooting rampage at their south Kansas City home.

The man accused of killing them, an ex-boyfriend of Joseph’s mother, 17-year-old Bianca Fletcher, told police that he became enraged during an argument, court documents say.

Joseph L. Nelson, 22, shot Fletcher and her friend, Shannon Rollins Jr., 18, the documents say. Worried that neighbors would hear the crying baby, he shot Joseph, too.

“My daughter and grandson were precious,” Bianca Fletcher’s father, Richard Fletcher, said in a statement released through prosecutors. “We are hurting and angry but we are grateful justice is being sought.”

Nelson was being held at the Jackson County jail in lieu of a $1 million bond.

Ian Cummings,

Jamie Hernandez-Zubia, 16

Someone left a fatally wounded Jamie J. Hernandez-Zubia on a street in Kansas City, Kan.

Police found her about 2:30 a.m. May 30 in the 2500 block of Ridge Avenue. Witnesses told of a shootout between two vehicles that drove away.

Hernandez-Zubia had been reported missing from the Kansas foster care system at age 13, when she ran away from a foster care placement in Wathena, in far northeastern Kansas. The missing persons case still was active when she died, even though she had been prosecuted on a drug possession charge in Wyandotte County in 2012.

No arrests have been made in her killing. Police were looking for a white pickup truck that may have a bullet hole in its tailgate. It was described as a late 1990s or early 2000s Ford F-150 with flare sides, tinted windows, 20-inch chrome rims and a touch-screen device in the cab.

Ian Cummings

J.G.M., 5

The 5-year-old boy identified as J.G.M. stood with his mother and her boyfriend in their Kansas City bedroom on a September morning.

His mother, Lisa Marie Hall, and her boyfriend had been drinking and arguing all night, witnesses later told police. About 7 a.m., Hall became angry enough to pull a gun from her waistband and fire at her boyfriend, court documents allege.

A bullet hit her son in the head. His blood splattered onto the face of the boyfriend’s son standing nearby.

The couple had bought the gun the day before. The boy’s grandmother told a television reporter that she would never forgive Hall.

Hall is charged with second-degree murder. A public defender representing her did not return phone messages seeking comment.

Ian Cummings

Amorian S. L. Hale, 3

As Amorian S. L. Hale slept in a first-floor bedroom, a drive-by shooter sprayed bullets into the Kansas City home in the 6700 block of Walrond Avenue about 10 a.m. May 31.

Three other children and the boy’s parents also were inside that Sunday morning. Only Amorian died.

His family buried the 3-year-old in a small white casket. He wore a crisp white suit and white bow tie. A Power Rangers DVD rested on his chest.

In June, prosecutors filed murder and other charges against a Kansas City man accused as the driver. That defendant, Sir Terry L. Stevenson, 22, told police that another man fired the shots.

Amorian’s grandfather, Eric McKinney, said he was relieved that police made an arrest but the family remained wounded.

“I don’t know how the justice is going to play out or what is going to happen,” he said. “It won’t bring my grandson back. It just won’t.”

Ian Cummings

Calia Elia Chishahayo, 2

It took Kansas City detectives some time to sort out things that happened to Calia Elia Chishahayo, identified by police only as C.E.

The 2-year-old lived in an apartment in the 1300 block of Vine Street with her siblings and her mother, Marie Chishahayo.

Relatives discovered trouble in the home on a Sunday after a church van tried to pick up the family but no one answered the door. Relatives called but got no answer by phone, according to police. Eventually, Marie Chishahayo’s brother went inside and found the apartment in disarray.

He also found Calia dead and a 3-year-old girl severely injured. Chishahayo’s 9-year-old son and her 6-month old daughter also lived in the apartment. The brother called police, who arrested Chishahayo. Prosecutors charged her with child abuse but later upgraded the charge to murder.

Eventually, she told investigators that she had beaten the young girls with a long plastic rod and allowed her son to heat a knife on the stove and burn Calia all over her body, according to court records. “God told him to punish the girl,” she said.

An attorney representing Chishahayo did not return phone messages seeking comment.

In July, a judge ordered that Chishahayo undergo a mental evaluation.

Ian Cummings

D.L.F., 1

The 1-year-old girl called D.L.F. labored to breathe in her mother’s arms the night she died in a southeast Kansas City apartment.

People saw the 17-year-old mother, Donniesha Lasha Lee, holding her baby in a “bear hug” on March 26, repeatedly hitting her and yelling at her to “shut up.”

Some tried to intervene, telling Lee to relax her hold. One tried to take the child child away, but Lee held on.

Later, the child was found unresponsive and facedown on the couch. Lee appeared to have passed out. Police found evidence that she had been drinking heavily, according to court documents.

Family members told a television station that they didn’t believe Lee intended to kill the child. The baby’s father had been shot and killed in October 2013.

Phone messages left with Lee’s attorney were not returned.

Lee faces a February trial for murder.

Ian Cummings

Alexis Kane, 14

On an overcast April afternoon, relatives of Alexis Kane gathered at her grave to wish her a happy birthday. They prayed for a sign that the middle school student was safe in heaven.

Moments later, a streak of sunlight broke through the clouds.

“We just started screaming for joy,” said her aunt, Shanaya Kane.

The family released 15 colorful balloons into the sky as a memorial to Alexis, who was found dead the afternoon of Jan. 11 in Kansas City.

Three teens allegedly beat and shot her before leaving her behind the property of The Bay Water Park at 7101 Longview Road.

Friends said she had gone to meet someone she connected with on Facebook, according to court documents.

As the oldest child at home, Alexis helped take care of her younger siblings. Her 3-year-old sister misses Alexis and sometimes wakes up crying in the middle of the night, Kane said.

Relatives had 30 poster-size photos of Alexis made to adorn their living room walls as a daily remembrance of the teen.

Kane said she taps her photo of Alexis twice each day and kisses it. The taps stand for “I’m here,” she said.

“That’s what we would do when we would saw each other; we would high-five twice,” Kane said. “I am letting her know that I am here.”

Isaac M. Carter and Ce-Antonyo D. Kennedy, both 17, and Dominic McDaniel, 18 face trial for murder.

Glenn Rice,

Lorenzo Orozco-Estrada, 2

Family members believe 2-year-old Lorenzo Orozco-Estrada’s heart is still beating, somewhere. It was donated to another child after he died in January.

Lorenzo spent nearly two days on life support after being severely injured while left overnight in the care of 23-year-old Mirsad Hamidovic in Kansas City. Hamidovic told police that he repeatedly jumped on Lorenzo, then panicked and shook him violently when the boy vomited blood, according to court documents.

Lorenzo’s family took up a collection for his funeral and to pay for professional help for his mother.

Hamidovic, who had three children of his own, awaits trial for murder.

Ian Cummings

Ja’Quail Da’Juan Lee Mansaw, 7 months

The baby boy’s family called him “Smoothie” for his smile.

His given name was Ja’Quail Da’Juan Lee Mansaw. He died at 7 months old in a drive-by shooting at his Kansas City, Kan., home in January.

A bullet found him while he was in the arms of his mother, Balethia Washington. Her five other children also were home.

The Jan. 4 shooting was the second at the house in the 2700 block of North Early Street in a month. The first time, no one was hit.

An ambulance rushed Ja’Quail to a hospital, but the damage was too great.

Mourners packed the boy’s funeral, where he lay in a coffin no bigger than a toolbox. The Rev. Desmond Lamb at Forest Grove Baptist Church noted that the case remained unsolved and demanded someone in the congregation come forward with information. The community owed that to Ja’Quail, he said.

“He’s never going to go to kindergarten or learn to ride a bike,” Lamb said. “This isn’t how God intended us to live.

“And it sure ain’t how he intended us to die.”

Ian Cummings

Analeece McHenry-Widmer, 7 months

Analeece McHenry-Widmer died from injuries suffered while in the care of a Shawnee man, according to police.

The 7-month-old had spent July 6 at an apartment in Shawnee that her mother shared with Aaron Peck, 24, according to police.

Authorities have not released details of how Analeece was hurt. But after being taken to a hospital, she died on July 7.

Peck, originally from Junction City, Kan., awaits a murder trial in Johnson County. Attorneys representing him did not return emails seeking comment.

Ian Cummings

Abdisamad Sheikh-Hussein, 15

At Staley High School, they knew him as Adam. At the Somali Center of Kansas City, 1340 Admiral Blvd., he went by his given name, Abdisamad Sheikh-Hussein.

Either way, people remembered the 15-year-old for his decency and helpful ways. At school, friends said Abdisamad broke down barriers and pushed aside religious stereotypes. At the Somali Center and mosque on Admiral Boulevard, he tried to help a drunken homeless man in the street when others would not, as staff at the mosque recalled.

In that same street, an angry truck driver ran Abdisamad down on Dec. 4, nearly severing his legs. He died at a hospital.

Abdisamad’s funeral was one of the biggest in recent memory among Kansas City’s tightly-knit Somali community.

At the funeral, the boy’s uncle, Abdinajib Dirir, talked about how the family had emigrated from war-torn Somalia but was devastated again here.

“There are no words to describe,” he said. “This is a community that fled a violent situation. Now we’re facing violence in the United States. … We are American like everyone else. And this is a tragedy for us.”

The family recently traveled to Mecca for a religious pilgrimage.

Ahmed H. Aden, a 34-year-old Kansas City truck driver, awaits a Jackson County trial for first-degree murder and other charges.

Ian Cummings

Angel Hooper, 6

Angel Hooper and her father stopped at a south Kansas City 7-Eleven for a pack of bubble gum.

When they walked out, Angel, 6, fell down, shot by someone in a passing car.

The drive-by killing enraged the community. Angel was not the target, just an innocent bystander, authorities said. The shooting stemmed from an earlier incident far from the convenience store at 10615 Blue Ridge Blvd.

Nevertheless, Angel paid the price. Later, teachers recalled a young student of rare promise, and family members mourned a quick-witted, affectionate child who loved books, dancing, singing, cartoons and the music of Michael Jackson.

Brittany Hans, Angel’s kindergarten teacher at Symington Elementary School, described her as an “extremely smart and extremely sweet” girl who had a heart for helping other children.

“She was my little teacher’s aide,” Hans said. “She was smart all the way around.”

Weeks after Angel’s death, Jackson County prosecutors charged Howard Chase IV, 19, and Leandre Smith, 21, with murder. Both await trial on charges of second-degree murder, unlawful use of a weapon and armed criminal action.

Ian Cummings

Khalif L’Ron Hampton, 16

No one has been charged in the fatal shooting of Khalif L’Ron Hampton, 16, on Dec. 14, 2014, in Kansas City, Kan.

Khalif reportedly had been involved in an ongoing dispute with other juveniles who lived near his family’s townhome in the 800 block of North 70th Terrace and attended the same high school, according to Kansas City, Kan., police.

Prior to the homicide, there was a physical altercation in front of the victim’s house. A short time later, a shooter or shooters returned and fired several bullets through the townhome’s exterior walls.

One struck Khalif in the head, according to police.

“He was in his own house, minding his own … business; he got shot down in his own home where he should have been safe,” said Callie Bryson, Khalif’s mother.

Khalif attended Turner High School. Rumors of a possible retaliation prompted school officials to issue a lockdown the following week.

Brian Burnes,

Machole J. Stewart, 10

Machole J. Stewart, 10, a fifth-grader, died Oct. 26, 2014, when someone sprayed bullets into her family’s Kansas City, Kan., home at 15th Street and New Jersey Avenue. One struck her in the head just after 7 p.m. as she sat on a couch watching television.

“She did not deserve this,” said Pastor Desmond Lamb of Forest Grove Baptist Church, where Machole was a praise dancer. “She was quite a joy to have around. She was very loving and very kind.”

Machole attended T.A. Edison Elementary School. A member of the gateway Highsteppers drill team, she loved to roller skate with friends on weekends. Her aunt, Martika Stewart, described her as a fashion queen. “She had to make sure everything matched,” Stewart said.

Machole was also good at making up songs and jokes. “When she was around, you knew you were going to get a laugh,” Martika Stewart said.

Mourners packed Forest Grove to the balcony during a prayer vigil a few days after her death. Her mother, Angela Fowler, sat tearfully in the front pew holding her 10-month-old daughter, whom family members said Machole loved to help care for.

Police vowed to work hard to solve the case. A few days later they located a vehicle they thought was involved. Agents from the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives provided technical assistance. A reward of $7,000 was offered, but no arrests have been made and no charges filed.

Matt Campbell,

Deleisha Kelley, 16

Deleisha, who attended DeLaSalle Education Center, was a typical 16-year-old who wanted her independence, said her mother, Kelli Blewett.

Mom had been away from home a few days when she got the call from Kansas City police that Deleisha had been found dead Dec. 21, 2014, near an abandoned building in the 3600 block of East 24th Street. Police said it was a homicide but did not release a cause of death. The case remains unsolved.

Deleisha attended Pleasant Green Baptist Church, where she was a member of the Jesus Steppers.

“Some grown man probably lured her and took her life,” Blewett said, adding that she still hopes someone will come forward with information.

“A lot of cases are unsolved because people know but don’t want to say anything. Somebody has to know something.”

Deleisha had talked of wanting to become a police officer, Blewett said.

Matt Campbell

Derek Walker, 6 weeks

Derek Walker, 6 weeks old, died Sept. 16 at home in Independence.

His mother, Whitley Evenson, 17, initially told police that she had placed him in his bassinet and forgot to remove a blanket from his sleeping area, putting him in danger.

Evenson later said that she placed her hand over the child’s mouth when she was frustrated and emotionally distraught over a recent breakup with the child’s father, according to court documents.

Jackson County prosecutors charged Evenson with second-degree murder. An attorney appointed to represent Evenson declined to comment.

Brian Burnes