Female Homicidies

Here it is, late April, and so far this year we’ve had 11 women killed in Kansas City. Most of these women were killed at the hands of people they know -- boyfriends, baby daddies, husbands. Even family members are killing other family members.

I am beyond frustrated by this. It’s like, we’ve already allowed children to be killed. Now we’re becoming OK with women being murdered. Young women. These are women who would someday become mothers, aunts, grandmothers...women who would contribute to society and our community. We’ll never get the chance with them. It’s always at the hands of a man, and it’s almost always gun violence.

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We know that people have issues. They have mental health issues, drug addiction, trauma. We see it and we tend to turn our head, because it’s not directly our problem. We need to stop doing that. If you look around your neighborhood and see that people are having issues, we need to start reporting it or try to reach out and get them some help in some way.

A few weeks ago another young woman was killed by her baby daddy. He just kills her, in broad daylight, around 10:30 in the morning. Were there any issues with this couple? As family members and as a community, we need to start finding out more about these young women and getting them some better help. People always say, “she should have left.” Well, I never think if I’m in a relationship that someone is going to kill me. You don’t think the person who says he loves you, that you have children with, is going to take your life.

At one of the murder scenes, I asked family members if they had seen warning signs. They said, yes, they did. They told her several times she should get away. But as women, we always make excuses for our lover, our family member, our child. We tend to try to fix things.

I was in an abusive relationship myself, some years ago. He beat me, he broke all my windows, he mentally tortured me. I got an order of protection and I did everything that the police department and the law told me to do and finally he went to prison for five years. So I can see the signs. I know the signs, because I’ve been there. That time of my life -- it was in the early 2000’s, I’ve just blocked out. But I’m afraid he’s doing the same thing to somebody else because prison does not rehabilitate men like that.

As far as domestic violence, the community response should be outraged. Children are seeing this. What do you think this is doing to them? And yet our response is to go on like nothing has happened. These children grow up to be young men and young women and they grow up with this trauma. We need to reach out to the children who have been affected by this madness and try to mentor them and guide them and let them know what normal life should be. Otherwise all this trauma, all this anger, it ends up being a homicide sometime later. That’s what it becomes -- another homicide.

 

Reward Funds

Recently a question came up about KC Mothers in Charge and whether we offer reward funds, to help solve crimes. We don’t, and I’d like to say a little bit about that.

My son PeeWee was killed in 2011, on Thanksgiving Eve. The reward fund from the Kansas City Metropolitan Crime Commission went for $1,000 for information that would lead police to solve my son’s murder. Nothing ever materialized and I never sought any more reward funds, because I know that money is not going to make this community talk. We have to want to talk. I was thankful for the Crime Commission for putting up the $1,000 dollars, but I didn’t seek any  more money.

At KC Mothers in Charge, our goal is not to give money for rewards. It’s to get the answers to solve homicides. To get people off the streets. To get them help. Sometimes it’s to get a grieving mother or father to breathe for a few moments.

We’re a non-profit organization and we don’t have the means or the rights to donate to reward funds. We do anything we can to help families. When a homicide occurs we are there. After a homicide I will come to your home and help you in any way you can. I walk families through the funeral process and direct them to the right source to apply for Crime Victims’ Compensation.

Our mission is what it’s always been -- to stand by the families and to try to reduce violence.  I just want people to understand what we do and who we are.    

Two bloody July Weekends in Kansas City

I don’t look forward to holiday weekends anymore, because of all the shooting and killing. This 4th of July weekend, we had three homicide victims and seven more shooting victims.

It started Saturday night around 9:30 p.m. There was a homicide in the 1600 block of East 80th Street, they found someone shot to death in a car. I was called to that. Then I was called again, to 28th Terrace and Myrtle. There were two men laid out on the street, murdered. Three people dead in no more than an hour’s time. That was how our 4th of July weekend began. And all of the shooting. You can tell the difference between fireworks and a gun. People were shooting more guns than there were fireworks.

Later, on Sunday morning, I was getting ready to go to a Royals game. KC Mothers in Charge got tickets donated. I was almost ready to walk out of my house and I got a call from a family member, screaming. A family I’ve been knowing most of all my life.

It was my grandchildren’s cousin who had been shot. He had been shot once in the head. He was in a car and three people had been shot. Family members were at Research Hospital, so I immediately forfeited the game because I had to go and be with this family.

I arrived at Research Medical Center, family was everywhere. I found the mother and started praying. Then the doctor came and told her that her son was OK, but not OK, and he would be going into surgery about 5 o’clock that evening. So I had been at the hospital for hours and I was getting ready to go home. Another mother I knew was there and she said her son had been shot too, off of 73rd and Walrond. So we had 3 homicides at that point of time, and 7 shooting victims.

All three of the homicide victims were from Tulsa, Oklahoma. I don’t know what happened, why they were here, but they got killed in Kansas City. And that bothered me, because I know that some mother, some family is hurting. All the way from  KC to Tulsa, I wanted to reach out and give my condolences.  They were someone’s father, someone’s child. They were someone.

Later on, on 4th of July evening, my neighbors and I were sitting on our porches, we were kind of doing a neighborhood watch.   My neighbor called me and said, “I called 911, can you also call 911? They are shooting at the end of the street.” The police came out.  Later on that night, I talked to my auntie, who lives in Raytown, and she said, “this is ridiculous.” There was so much shooting. It’s out of control. We’re making it like it’s normal for people to shoot guns.

The next weekend, I was called Friday night for a homicide that happened at 99th and Holmes. Thirty minutes after that there was another homicide at Bannister and McGee. Someone was murdered. Later on Saturday night I got a call about a shooting in Swope Park. It was a homicide, a woman shot a man. It was a family picnic gathering, but she did turn herself in.

Then this morning (Monday, July 10), I want to say around 1:45 a.m., I was called for a homicide at Blue Parkway at the Burger King, someone was murdered in his car. I can’t imagine how many shootings we had this weekend but we had four homicides. Four lives taken this weekend. The thing that really scares me is, it could happen to me again. It could be another family member of mine. Every African American mother in the city worries about that.

These children in our community have no filter. They can’t deal with conflict, they have no way to talk to each other. They don’t know how to walk away from things, or agree to disagree.

We as African American people, we don’t come together, I have no problem with saying that. We need to stand together for the right things. It starts in our homes with our children, grandchildren and family members, guiding them to do the right things and telling them enough is enough. At some point we have to say “ENOUGH,” because we are destroying each other.

 

Remembering Donta, 11 years later

 Donta's mother, family and friends gather to celebrate his life

Donta's mother, family and friends gather to celebrate his life

Last week we did an anniversary vigil on behalf of Jennifer Webb, one of our core mothers. She has joined KC Mothers in Charge and she does the work for us every day in the community to save someone else’s child’s life.

 family and friends surrouding donta with love

family and friends surrouding donta with love

March 1 marked the 11-year anniversary of the murder of Jennifer’s son, Donta Gadison. He was killed at age 21 in front of Snack Pack, a convenience store over in Kansas City, Kansas, 1705 Parallel Parkway. The case is still unsolved.  

KC Mothers in Charge does anniversary vigils for our mothers and for anyone in the community on the date that someone was lost, or on their birthday. We go out to the scene and we do a vigil, a celebration of life. We have a balloon release and we have food. Last week, the Snack Pack store donated food.

Donta’s mother, Jennifer, spoke about losing and missing her son, and about joining our organization. She talked about how protective we mothers become after losing a child. Even our other children don’t understand when we try to tell them of that hole we have in our hearts. We have lost a child and we don’t want to go through that again. We understand how fragile life is. We see how no one has respect for each other, how people are just so easy to kill each other, how this younger generation does not have a thinking process, they just act off of impulse. Instead of talking things out they just take a gun and kill each other. They don’t think about how it tears up a family. It tears up a community.

We released balloons, people hugged and talked. We remembered Donta. He lived in our community and we have not forgotten him.

Donta was a funny person. He loved his family. He was Jennifer’s oldest child. He was the life of the family. When he was taken away she has really changed. People don’t realize how our life changes forever after losing a child. Things that used to be normal aren’t normal any more. We are trying to find our new norm.

I remember something Jennifer said at the vigil: “Justice for Donta.” Not for her, justice for Donta.  I thought about this a couple of days ago, because I have also lost a child to homicide. I want justice for Pee Wee, my son. It’s not about me, it’s about him. Justice for our children. We still have hope for this to happen.

A canvassing event produces a missing key

KC Mothers In Charge Canvasses for Nicholas Walker

On Saturday February 11, KC Mothers in Charge canvassed for Nicholas Walker. He was found murdered in a car Dec. 19, 2015, at 6th and Elmwood.

His sister reached out to me. More than a year had gone by and there were no charges. I asked if she had talked to homicide and she said yes, she had talked to the homicide detective and they were doing what they were supposed to do. But she wondered if we could do something more.

We had done a vigil after Nicholas was murdered in 2015. But sometimes people are less afraid after some time has passed. So we met the family up there in the Northeast at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. It was a good event. We had media out there. The family brought a lot of people. Altogether, we had more than 25 people out there.

The community was receptive. One person came and said she had keys. She gave me keys she had found around the time of the homicide. People gave names, they gave phone numbers, they wanted to talk to the detectives.

Canvassing is great. My mothers enjoy it.  There were nine or ten of us out there. It was great for the community. People were stopping in cars and they were just so receptive to us. They care.

The keys belonged to the car that Nicholas was found in. A lady had picked them up that day and never did turn them in.  She said, well, the police were supposed to come back out.  She should have just called the Kansas City Police Department. They would have come right out.  As a community we have to turn up our thinking cap a little bit more. No disrespect meant, but what would you do if it was your loved one? Wouldn’t you want information to get to the police department?

I called the homicide sergeant that evening on my way home from canvassing and I said, “I think I’ve got the keys to the car you all have been looking for.” He said, “you are kidding me. We’ve been looking for those keys forever.” I took them down to him the next day. Having those keys with me, it felt good. I thought, I may be holding something that will help solve a homicide.