- Associated Press - Saturday, May 20, 2017

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Kansas City police are investigating whether four similar homicides along a popular hiking and biking trail are related, although no physical evidence has been found to link them.

Four men, all white and between the ages of 54 and 67, have been killed since last August on the Blue River Trail and the connected Indian Creek Trail, which runs for 26 miles from south Kansas City to Olathe, Kansas. Three of the men were walking their dogs on or near the trail.

“Detectives are aware of the similarities and are actively investigating all four of the homicides,” Kansas City police spokeswoman Capt. Stacey Graves said Friday in an emailed statement. “At this time, there is no physical evidence that suggests these cases are related but the possibility is being reviewed.”

Each case is still being investigated as a separate investigation, Graves said. Police plan extra patrols in the area, on foot and on ATVs.

The latest victim was Mike Darby, 61, co-owner of a local bar, who was found slain on the trail Thursday. Darby was walking two dogs on the trail.

The other victims were John W. Palmer, 54, found dead Aug. 19 in a wooded area; David Lenox, 67, found shot to death Feb. 27 near his home while walking one of his dogs; and Timothy S. Rice, 57, of Excelsior Springs, found dead April 4 inside a shelter along the trail.

Lenox was the only victim not killed on a trail, but his body was found a few blocks away in the parking lot of Willow Creek Apartments, where he lived.

“When this happened to my dad, we thought it was a random act of violence,” Lenox’s son, Mike, told The Kansas City Star (https://bit.ly/2q6KeEs ). “If an individual could be capable of that, you’d think that individual could do something like that again.”

Lenox hoped the fourth similar killing and media attention will bring answers.

“I really just want to find out who killed my dad,” Mike Lenox said. “If it is a serial killer, I want to find him. If it’s not, I want to find him.”

Oliver Brandsgaard, 25, and his father Charles, 55, who live near the trail, said that although the similar killings are disturbing, it’s possible the killings aren’t connected because the trail is so long and winds through many different neighborhoods of varying safety.

The City Council’s Public Safety Committee will discuss park safety Wednesday and will consider a resolution directing the city manager to work with the Board of Parks and Recreation to develop a safety plan and another resolution establishing a curfew in some parks.


Information from: The Kansas City Star, https://www.kcstar.com

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