Crime

Testimony: Kansas City gang ‘enforcer’ may have killed 23

A notorious Kansas City street gang member known as “an enforcer” may be responsible for 23 murders, according to court testimony Thursday.

Rashawn L. Long, 35, once bragged about having killed that many, a federal agent testified.

Investigators, meanwhile, have linked Long to five area murders, according to court records and federal prosecutors.

They include the killings of 28-year-old Myeisha Turner and her 3-year-old daughter, Damiah L. White, who were slain execution-style in their Kansas City duplex in August 2013. Those killings outraged the community and led to prayer vigils, marches and repeated demands for someone to come forward to help identify their killer.

More than two years later, no charges have been filed in the case, though investigators still are working on it.

“It’s been a lot of sleepless nights for me, wondering, waiting and hoping that someone would come forth with information,” Turner’s mother, Cheryl Turner, told The Star on Thursday. “My family deserves closure in this, and justice for them.”

Long, who pleaded guilty to one 2001 murder, admitted to two others, according to an inmate who testified Thursday. However, Long is currently facing charges in just one Kansas City murder.

An agent of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives testified Thursday that Long once held a handgun to his girlfriend’s head and told her, “You’ll be my 24th.”

Long was sentenced to 30 years in prison for drug and gun charges unrelated to any of the murders. The maximum sentence called for in the federal sentencing guidelines was 115 months, or less than 10 years. But prosecutors asked a judge to impose an even harsher sentence because of Long’s violent history.

U.S. District Court Judge Brian C. Wimes told Long he was a significant danger to the community and said this case was like no other.

“This will protect the public from you,” Wimes said. “People will get hurt if you are out on the streets.”

Long did not testify but spoke to the court from the defense table. He asked for leniency and said the federal government had a “vendetta” against him.

“I haven’t had any justice,” Long said.

Investigators now hope that having Long locked up for 30 years will encourage witnesses to other crimes he committed to come forward.

A court filing by prosecutors attributed five murders to Long, including the one he pleaded guilty to committing in 2001.

The other four happened in 2013, just months after Long was released from a Missouri prison. They include the slayings of Raymon K. Thomas in Overland Park in July 2013 and Kevin “Flip” Jones in Kansas City in September 2013.

By October 2013, Long had been arrested and charged in the federal drug and gun case.

Long’s public defender, Patrick J. O’Connor, said the government’s allegations were hearsay.

In a filing earlier this week, O’Connor objected to the government seeking to present “extremely limited evidence and selective witnesses knowing a great majority of this evidence is not admissible in state court proceedings.”

“The government is asking this court to charge, convict and sentence the defendant for uncharged homicides,” the filing also states. “As far as other crimes of violence or homicides, the proper venue for charging those crimes is state court, not at a federal sentencing hearing.”

The defense had requested a sentence of 6  1/2 years on the drug and gun charges. Long, who has been in custody awaiting sentencing, still faces a Jackson County murder charge in the Jones killing.

As a member of the 51st Street Crips, Long’s extensive criminal history includes “a multitude of uncharged criminal conduct,” prosecutors wrote in their court filing.

In March 2001, Long allegedly shot a man who survived but ended up paralyzed, according to court records. Long has never been charged in that case. He allegedly wanted to keep the man from testifying against him in the Feb. 1, 2001, murder of Michael L. Birks, 24.

Long pleaded guilty in December 2001 to killing Birks and was sentenced to 12 years in prison. Prosecutors said the murder was to keep Birks from talking to authorities about other murders and gang distribution of PCP.

It happened as a drive-by shooting in the street in the 3000 block of Chestnut Avenue in Kansas City. Witnesses told police a tan pickup drove by about 5:10 a.m. and fired at Birks.

While in prison, Long got disciplined for 64 infractions, including fighting, contraband possession and sexual misconduct, according to Missouri Department of Corrections records.

After his release in March 2013, Long soon began killing again, prosecutors say.

Thomas, 33, was killed in a drive-by shooting in Overland Park on July 14, 2013. Prosecutors say Thomas was shot at least six times in his driveway with an AK 47-style assault rifle. One bullet struck him while he was on the ground in the left cheek and exited through his right eye socket. The Johnson County district attorney has not filed charges in that case.

The inmate who testified Thursday said he was in the same cell block with Long and that they had grown up together. He said he and Long talked to each other about various crimes they had committed. He said Long told him he had committed the Thomas and Jones murders.

The inmate said he decided to contacted authorities because he had been friends with Thomas. The inmate said that after he talked to authorities, he was threatened in prison and told when he got out he would be killed. The inmate asked to be moved to another area of the prison.

Just a few weeks after the Thomas killing came the horrifying murders of Myeisha Turner and her young daughter.

Turner had moved into a small duplex in the 5500 block of Wabash Avenue only days earlier with her daughter, Damiah, and her 11-month-old son. Turner attended Washington High School before transferring to Excelsior Springs Job Corps. She was studying to be a registered nurse, taking classes at National American University while working as a caregiver at St. Luke’s Hospital.

Damiah was almost 4 and had just gotten her vaccinations for preschool. The girl loved to sing and she loved the color pink, friends and family said.

A cousin of Turner’s found the back door of the duplex suspiciously open shortly after 7 p.m. on Aug. 23, 2013, and then found the bodies. The boy had been left alive, possibly for hours, with his dead mother and sister. A neighbor said several shots were heard in the area about 10 p.m. the night before.

Cheryl Turner said she had heard by word of mouth that Long was a suspect in her daughter’s and granddaughter’s murder but had been told nothing by authorities.

“My daughter was not involved in any trouble,” she said. “I don’t see how they would have known each other. I just cannot understand or accept that he could do something like this.”

Turner said she is relieved to hear of a suspect but wants more information.

“I have not received a call from the police, but I will be contacting them, because I would like to know why he has not been charged,” she said. “Somebody needs to answer for this.”

In October 2013, federal prosecutors filed drugs and weapon charges against Long after he parked a vehicle behind the house of a stranger, who called police.

When officers searched Long’s vehicle, they found a backpack that contained a stun gun, a can of pepper spray, a digital scale with residue, a video camera and a soda can. Inside the can was a false compartment that contained Buphedrone, a controlled substance similar to methamphetamine also known as “bath salts.”

On the camera, they found images of Long with a Glock semi-automatic handgun.

Just moments after he was convicted on those charges, in August 2014, Long learned that Jackson County prosecutors had filed a first-degree murder charge against him for the killing of Jones in Kansas City.

Jones, 30, was found in a driveway in front of his home in the 800 block of East 77th Street. He had been shot 23 times, including in the head. Investigators found a winter cap in the home that contained DNA matching Long’s.

Prosecutors believe the gun used to kill Jones was the Glock shown in the video images confiscated from Long’s vehicle. The handgun had been converted to hold 30 to 50 rounds.

O’Connor said that gun was never recovered.

The Star’s Tony Rizzo and Brian Burnes contributed to this report.

Glenn E. Rice: 816-234-4341, @GRicekcstar

Matt Campbell: 816-234-4902, @MattCampbellKC

Killing timeline

According to court documents:

Feb. 1, 2001: Rashawn Long killed Michael Birks, 24, near 30th Street and Chestnut Avenue in Kansas City.

March 5, 2013: Long released from a Missouri prison for the Birks murder.

July 14, 2013: Long allegedly killed Raymon K. Thomas, 33, in the 6300 block of West 94th Terrace in Overland Park.

Aug. 23, 2013: Long allegedly killed Myeisha J. Turner, 28, and her daughter, Damiah L. White, 3, in their Kansas City duplex at 5514 Wabash.

Sept. 20, 2013: Long allegedly killed Kevin “Flip” Jones, 30, in a driveway near 77th Street and Brooklyn Avenue in Kansas City.

Oct. 26, 2013: Kansas City police arrested Long after he parked a car behind the house of a stranger, who called police.

Oct. 29, 2013: Federal prosecutors charge Long with gun and drug crimes.

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