Students and staff of a south Kansas City middle school are mourning the loss of one of their brightest lights.
Alexis Kane, an eighth-grader at Smith-Hale Middle School, was found dead Sunday — the victim of a homicide being investigated by Kansas City police.
“She was one of those kiddos who stood out in a crowd,” said Hayet Woods, principal at the Hickman Mills district school. “She was a great kid.”
Just days before the 14-year-old was found dead, she had talked to Woods about how angry and frustrated she was about violence, particularly the killing earlier this month of a 7-month-old boy during a Kansas City, Kan., drive-by shooting.
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Alexis had a picture of the little boy, Ja’Quail Mansaw, on her phone, Woods said.
“She asked me, ‘Why do people have to carry guns and shoot at people?’” Woods said. “She thought it was so senseless how that baby died.”
Woods said Alexis was always smiling and eager to help others, and talked about protesting against violence on Longview Road outside the school to demand that people put down their guns.
She asked her principal: “Is that what I need to do?”
Alexis was found dead Sunday afternoon behind the property of The Bay Water Park at 7101 Longview Road, just over a mile down the road from the school. Police have not said how she was killed.
Family members last saw Alexis Saturday night when she left with a group of friends to go to the movies on the Country Club Plaza, said her aunt, Shanaya Kane.
But then she met up with other friends, and did not leave with those she had initially been with, her aunt said.
“She never came home,” Shanaya Kane said.
When Alexis’ Saturday curfew of 11 p.m. passed, her mother began trying to call and text her.
“She didn’t answer,” her aunt said.
Her mother left messages to let Alexis know that she wasn’t in trouble but that she needed to contact them.
When the family called police, they were told they had to wait 24 hours to make a missing person report, according to Kane.
On Sunday, family members were at the police station when they overheard a police radio broadcast about a discovery of a body behind The Bay.
“My sister (Alexis’ mother) broke down crying,” Shanaya Kane said. “She said she had a bad feeling.”
Family members went to the scene, and when police described what the victim was wearing, Kane said they knew it was Alexis, but they had to wait until Monday for a check of fingerprints to confirm it was her.
The family declined to discuss the investigation or a possible motive.
“Whatever the motive was, it didn’t have to come to that,” Kane said. “It was senseless. She wouldn’t hurt a fly.”
One thing detectives are looking into is any possible connection with an armed robbery reported about 1:30 a.m. Monday on the street directly in front of the waterpark.
The robbery victim told police that he was walking on Longview when two people approached him, pointed a gun and robbed him.
Woods said she last spoke to Alexis at school on Friday. Alexis was excited about testing out of a class, and Woods told the girl she was living up to the school’s motto: “Hard work pays off.”
“This is such a loss for our school,” Woods said.
Shanaya Kane said the family is imploring the community to help catch whoever killed Alexis, who was the oldest of five children.
“It could have been anybody’s child,” Kane said. “You never know when you let them go. It could be the last time you ever see them.”
Police are asking anyone with information to call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-8477.