The man suspected of killing five men along a popular walking trail in south Kansas City has been arrested and charged in two of a series of shootings that have had residents in the area on edge for over a year.
The victims were strangers to the suspect but shared the same profile — middle-aged white males.
On Tuesday, prosecutors charged 22-year-old Fredrick Demond Scott with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the deaths of Steven Gibbons, 57, and John Palmer, 54, who were shot on or around Kansas City’s Indian Creek Trail about a year apart. Scott is also a suspect in the three other homicides in the area.
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Via The Sentinel:
All five victims were shot, four in the head, three in the back of the head, and a fourth was shot in the back.
According to legal documents, the telltale evidence came with the murder of Gibbons, whose death on August 13 had not been previously linked to the other four. Gibbons took a KCATA bus to 67th Street and headed east. Scott followed him off the bus and shot him as he approached his home on East 67th Street. Surveillance videos from the bus and local businesses enabled KCPD to crack the case. According to the complaint, “Scott admitted to shooting the victim. He stated that he was removing the gun from his pocket when it accidentally went off.” DNA from a cigarette and an iced tea bottle linked Scott to the Gibbons murder. DNA found at the Palmer murder scene a year prior proved to be Scott’s.
The evidence linking Scott to the other three murders is very strong. As Scott told the police, he routinely used the Indian Creek Trail for shortcuts to his destinations. Said Scott to the detectives under his breath, “They didn’t see it coming.”
According to The Kansas City Star, Gibbons survived on life support for more than a day after he was found bleeding and unconcious on a Kansas City street earlier this month. Gibbons had been shot in broad daylight, “execution-style,” the Star reported.
Police linked the murder to the other four killings near the popular trail because it showed “obvious similarities.”
Palmer had been found killed nearly a year earlier on Aug. 19, 2016, in a wooded area near East Bannister Road and Lydia Avenue. His death, near the Indian Creek trail, was the first of four that police connected.
The profiles of the victims made them relatively rare among Kansas City homicide victims. Some of the men were killed while walking their dogs. In at least two cases, the dogs remained beside their slain owners until police arrived.
The unsolved killings mystified Kansas City residents and spread fears of a serial killer.
While the motive in the killings remains unclear, Scott “repeatedly” told investigators that he was angry about the 2015 shooting death of his brother, Gerrod H. Woods, 23.
Woods was one of two men fatally shot Dec. 14, 2015 during a robbery near East 73rd Street and Wabash Avenue.
On Friday, the man convicted in those killings, Jimmie Verge, 22, was sentenced to 45 years in prison.
That culprit does not fit the profile of Scott’s five victims.
Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said in a news conference Tuesday that there was no clear motive for the killings.
“To the families, there’s no motive that makes sense. There just isn’t,” she said.
She said, if convicted, Scott would face the possibility of life in prison without parole.