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Entries in Kansas City (26)

Wednesday
Feb202013

Deadly Restaurant Explosion in Kansas City Captured on Tape

Ablestock.com/Thinkstock(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) – New video emerged Wednesday of a massive explosion at a Kansas City restaurant Tuesday night that left one person dead and 15 injured.

The video of the blast at JJ’s Restaurant, an eatery in the upscale Country Club Plaza, came from a surveillance camera at Shelton Travel Service Inc., a nearby business.

The video showed a sudden fiery explosion erupting from the restaurant’s corner location. Several cars were stopped at a stoplight in the intersection at the time.

Earlier Wednesday, Kansas City authorities announced that they had found a body at the scene of the blast. One person had been missing since Tuesday evening. Of the 15 people transported to local hospitals Tuesday, nine had been released.

Questions about who was responsible for the deadly explosion went unanswered from various offices Wednesday. A report about a gas leak came in at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday evening. The time-stamp on the surveillance video showed it was nearly half an hour later – 5:44 p.m. – at the time of the blast. The first emergency call about it came at 6:04 p.m.

Pressed by reporters about who was responsible for the tragedy, Kansas City Mayor Sly James responded tersely, “It ain’t going to happen today.”

In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, Missouri Gas Energy said its probe into the blast continues.

“We remain focused on supporting the ongoing investigation into the cause of last night’s incident and on ensuring the continued security of the site,” the company said. “Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with all those impacted and their loved ones, and we want to thank the emergency responders for their efforts last night and their continued work today to help so many.”

The chairman of the Missouri Public Service Commission, Kevin Gunn, said in a statement that early indications point to the incident not stemming from a system failure.

“Very preliminary reports indicate this leak may have been caused by a strike on a line, rather than a spontaneous infrastructure failure,” Gunn said. “However, we cannot know for certain until our staff completes what will be a very detailed inspection.”

Such inspections, Gunn cautioned, can take months.

 

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb202013

More than a Dozen Injured in Kansas City, Mo., Gas Explosion

Ablestock.com/Thinkstock(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) -- More than a dozen people were injured after a natural gas explosion ripped through a popular downtown restaurant in an upscale section of Kansas City, Mo.

Witnesses say the huge fireball, which engulfed an entire city block Tuesday night, could be seen for miles.  The explosion destroyed JJ's restaurant and rattled windows blocks away.

"Everything shook, and you could feel it almost as much as you could hear it," one witness said.  "It was by far the biggest explosion I've ever felt in my life."

There were no initial reports of fatalities, but cadaver dogs are searching the area.  Kansas City Fire Chief Paul Berardi told reporters Wednesday morning that one person is missing.

"At this time we're still searching for one victim and that employee is a female employee of JJ's restaurant," he said.

St. Luke's Hospital said it treated eight patients, including two men who were in critical condition.  Six other people had less serious injuries, according to ABC News affiliate KMBC-TV.  The University of Kansas Hospital said it had received four patients and had a fifth on the way, KMBC reported.

More than 100 firefighters worked overnight to knock back the thick black smoke and shooting flames that forced onlookers to flee the downtown Kansas City shopping district just after 6 p.m.

"We are concerned that there may be additional people not able to get out of the structure," Berardi told reporters late Tuesday.  "This was happy-hour at a restaurant.  There were patrons in the restaurant."

"I would always fear there are fatalities in a scene like this," he added.

Investigators are sifting through the rubble Wednesday morning and trying to figure out what caused the blaze.  It is believed that a contractor might have hit an underground natural gas line.

It almost smelled like the radiators were seeping out gas," one witness said.  "Strong enough for us to call the landlord to say something was wrong."

Witnesses say gas fumes could still be smelled hours after firefighters got the flames under control.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec032012

Kansas City Chiefs Win Game After Murder-Suicide Tragedy

Peter Aiken/Getty Images(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) -- The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Carolina Panthers 27 to 21 on Sunday, one day after police say Chiefs linebacker Javon Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend and then committed suicide.

There was a moment of silence before the game at the Chiefs’ Arrowhead Stadium for the victims of domestic violence and their families.  The Chiefs hung a jersey of Belcher's in his locker, but the team did not publicly memorialize him at the game.

Police say Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, in front of his mother on Saturday and then drove to the Chiefs’ training facility, where he shot himself in the head in front of several team officials, including head coach Romeo Crennel.

As for the decision to play the game, Chiefs chairman and CEO Clark Hunt says Crennel called the team captains on Saturday and learned that many of the players had expressed a desire to play.  Hunt said Crennel had agreed that going forward was the right thing to do.

Speaking about his decision to play the game, Crennel told reporters on Sunday, “I thought that was the best thing we could do.  If for no other reason it takes our minds off our misery for a few hours.”

The coach said the team felt relief after the game, explaining, "There was elation.  I think that they were appreciative of the fact that they were able to get through the game, and deal with the circumstance."

Still, Crennel acknowledged that there are still some tough days ahead.

“It might not be over for some time for a lot of the guys,” he said.

Belcher’s mother says the couple’s 3-month-old daughter will be raised with her on Long Island, N.Y.  The Kansas City Chiefs have announced they will start a foundation for the little girl.

Belcher’s death is the latest in a string of NFL player suicides.  Earlier this year, Ray Easterling, who once played for the Atlanta Falcons, killed himself with a gun.  Tennessee Titans wide receiver OJ Murdock also took his own life, as did former NFL star Junior Seau.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jun242012

Police Rescue Malnourished Girl From Closet in Kansas City

ABC News; Kansas City Police Department(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) -- A Kansas City, Mo., mother is behind bars, accused of keeping her 10-year-old daughter locked in a closet, not letting her come out to eat, sleep or even go to the bathroom.

The girl weighed just 32 pounds, and hospital records indicated that she has only gained 6 pounds since she was 4 or 5 years old, according to a police probable cause statement. The girl also suffers from "multiple healing skin injuries and failure to thrive," the statement said.

"She weighed a little over a third of what a 10-year-old should weigh," Kansas City Police Capt. Steve Young said. "We don't know how long or how frequently she's been in there [the closet], but it's clear she'd spent a significant amount of time in there."

Kansas City police met Missouri Children's Division workers outside the apartment building Friday morning after the division received a hotline call about a girl who was locked up and unable to eat or use the restroom.

When a division worker told two women outside the apartment that three children lived in the apartment, the neighbors said they had never seen the third child even though they'd lived there for "several years."

"We never knew of her the whole three years we've been down here," Kimberly Kelley, another neighbor, told ABC's affiliate in Kansas City, KMBC-TV. "She told us she only had two kids."

Officers learned the mother, Jacole Prince, 29, was out with her two younger children, but maintenance let law enforcement inside, according to the probable cause statement.

The second floor smelled strongly of urine, and when officers noticed a crib pushed against a closet door that was tied off with rope, they asked, "Is anyone in here?"

A child's voice answered, "Yes."

The girl was found standing in the closet, according to the statement. She told officers "the closet was her room," and she couldn't go to breakfast with her mother and sisters because she "messes herself." She also sleeps there, she said.

At the hospital, the child told detectives she had not been let out of the closet for two days, and she does not eat every day. She said her mother gets mad and "punches her on the back" because she "keeps peeing on herself."

She is not allowed to play outside like her sisters, and instead has to play behind the couch, the girl said.

That night, police arrested the girl's mother and her boyfriend. The mother allegedly admitted to locking her child up in part because she knows she would get in trouble if anyone saw how malnourished the girl had become, according to the statement.

Her boyfriend denied knowing the mother ever locked the 10-year-old in a closet.

The girl's mother was charged with assault in the first degree, child abuse, and endangering the welfare of a child in the first degree, according to the criminal complaint. All three charges are felonies.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct312011

Missing Baby Lisa Lawyers Split in Feud

Courtesy the Find Lisa Facebook Page(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) -- The Kansas City attorney who was representing the parents of missing 11-month old Lisa Irwin said Monday that she was fired by high-powered New York defense attorney Joe Tacopina.

"Tacopina and I were not able to work as a team," attorney Cyndy Short said. "Our goals and our approaches are so different that one of us had to go."

Short said she had been working pro bono for Lisa's parents Deborah Bradley, 25, and Jeremy Irwin, 29. Short said she did not know where any of the money was coming from to pay the family's legal bills or any details about the benefactor who is offering a $100,000 reward for finding Lisa or finding her abductor.

"When I got involved in this case, I did it to stand up for Jeremy and Deborah and to prevent any kind of wrongful arrest or conviction," Short said.

The police investigation so far has centered around the parents. The police have complained that the parents aren't cooperating, and last week planned interviews of the couple's young sons were cancelled at the last minute.

In return, Tacopina and Short has criticized the investigation.

Short said she believes 11-month-old Lisa was "stolen" from her home and maintains that Bradley and Irwin are good parents.

Baby Lisa has been missing since the night of Oct. 3, and her parents maintain that she was kidnapped from her crib. Police have investigated nearly 1,000 tips and leads, but have not named any suspects.

An anonymous benefactor is offering a $100,000 reward for her safe return or the conviction of whoever took the little girl.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct262011

Baby Lisa's Brothers to Provide DNA Sampling

Courtesy the Find Lisa Facebook Page(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) -- Missing Missouri 11-month-old Lisa Irwin's two older brothers, who were in the house the night she disappeared, will submit to interviews with investigators and provide DNA samples.

Child specialists spoke to the boys on Oct. 4, the day after Lisa's disappearance, but investigators have not had access to Lisa's 5 and 8-year-old half-brothers since then.

"This will be the first time we've had a chance to interview them since then," Kansas City Police Officer Darin Snapp told ABC News on Wednesday. "We have not been allowed access to the children until [parents Deborah Bradley and Jeremy Irwin] agreed to bring them in this Friday."

"We are expecting to collect DNA samples," Snapp said. "It will be very non-intrusive, pretty much just a Q-tip swab." Snapp said some DNA samples, currently in a lab, that were collected from the house are labeled "unknown" and they want to use the boys' DNA to eliminate some of the unknown samples.

"We spoke to one for 50 minutes and the other for 30 minutes," Snapp said. "They were woken up very early in the morning and, due to their ages, we didn't want to interview them for too long that day."

Snapp said there will not be any detectives involved in Friday's interviews; they will be conducted by child specialists. Investigators want to "bring them back to see if they remember anything that might be able to help find their younger sister," Snapp said. The boys were reportedly sleeping with Bradley in her bed when Lisa disappeared and may have heard noises in the house.

Tensions between investigators and Lisa's family have continued amid discord about Bradley, 25, and Irwin's, 29, level of cooperation, but police are still intent on interviewing them.

Investigators want Lisa's parents to submit to separate interviews and answer a list of "tough questions” that detectives "need answered."

Kansas City Police Capt. Steve Young made his statement Tuesday as the investigation into the toddler's disappearance entered its fourth week without any suspects or leads to the girl's whereabouts.

Police have received over 975 tips and have cleared almost 800 of those tips.

Baby Lisa has been missing since the night of Oct. 3 and an anonymous benefactor is offering a $100,000 reward for her safe return or the conviction of whoever took the little girl.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct262011

Missing Missouri Baby: Police 'Need' Separate Interviews with Parents

Courtesy the Find Lisa Facebook Page(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) -- Investigators want the parents of missing 11-month-old Lisa Irwin to submit to separate interviews and answer a list of "tough questions" that detectives "need answered."

Kansas City Police Capt. Steve Young made his statement as the investigation into the toddler's disappearance entered its fourth week without any suspects or leads to the girl's whereabouts.

Police are still intent on interviewing the parents, Deborah Bradley, 25, and Jeremy Irwin, 29.

"We need them to sit down apart from each other, with detectives, and answer the tough questions detectives have for them concerning what they may or may not know about anything, who came and went [the night Lisa disappeared]," Young told ABC News.  "There's a whole list of things that they may know."

Young said he is "not disputing" family attorney Joe Tacopina's claims that the family has cooperated and answered other questions, such as specific questions regarding tips and leads.  But that is not sufficient, he said.

"The bottom line is detectives need to sit down with them unrestricted and they need to answer questions that we need answered," he said.

The captain rejected any suggestion that the case has hit a dead end.

"It would be far from reality to call this a cold case," Young said.  "We're still looking at everything."

Young made his comments as Tacopina unleashed more criticism of the investigation, telling ABC's Good Morning America Tuesday that the parents have cooperated with numerous searches and interrogations.

"It really is maddening to me to listen to this police spokesperson come out there, and instead of informing the public -- and more importantly the family -- about leads and the status of the investigation and the manhunt, he comes out and makes these statements," Tacopina said.  "And, quite frankly, they've [parents] done everything they've been asked to do...They have nothing to hide.  They want answers."

Young declined to comment on Tacopina's remarks other than to say, "I stand by all my previous statements."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct252011

Missing Missouri Baby: Family Attorney Questions 'Massive, Public' Search

Kansas City Police(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) -- An attorney for the family of missing 11-month-old Lisa Irwin questioned the motivations behind what she called the "enormous, massive, public" search of the family's Kansas City, Missouri home.

"It almost seemed as if that was more for the public's benefit than for the benefit of doing a thorough search of this house," attorney Cyndy Short, who represents parents Deborah Bradley and Jeremy Irwin, told ABC's Good Morning America on Monday.

"It was interesting to watch the activity outside of this house when they were conducting the search.  There were so many crime scene people that were seen outside, and seen coming in and out of this house…carrying a rolled up rug," Short said.  "It really gave the impression that there was a lot going to be removed from this house."

Short gave Good Morning America an exclusive tour of the house after the police search.

[Click here to watch a video of the tour]

According to an affidavit regarding the search, a cadaver dog searching for evidence "indicated a positive 'hit' for the scent of a deceased human" next to her mother's bed.  Questions have arisen about the accuracy of the scent dogs.

Short pointed out in her walk-through of the house that the carpeting in Deborah Bradley and Jeremy Irwin's room was intact.

"The number one thing in walking through this room and having an opportunity to look at it that stood out to me, is that the carpet has not been collected.  There are no swatches of the carpet taken out," Short said.  "There's no evidence of where in the world this dog was supposed to have alerted."

Video footage had previously showed investigators carrying a rolled up carpet out of the home, but Short said the carpet had been sitting in the garage and while searchers did look at it, they did not ultimately take it with them from the house.

Short also pointed out that there were very few places around the house where fingerprint powder indicated investigators had collected fingerprints.

"It would seem to me that there would be attempts to lift prints from a variety of surfaces in this house because you're looking for unknown prints -- prints that don't belong here.  So if you only check [at the door] and at the light switch, it would seem you would miss the potential of unknown prints," Short said.

The walk-through also revealed that police had left the box of wine in the kitchen that Bradley has admitted to drinking from the night Lisa disappeared.  The wine bag was removed from the box and Short believed police may have emptied the remaining wine in an attempt to measure how much Bradley had consumed.

The six items removed from the home were a multicolored comforter, purple shorts, a Disney character shirt, a glow worm toy, a Cars-themed blanket, rolls of tape and a tape dispenser.

"The search itself lasted 17 hours.  That's a very long time, and would suggest a very thorough search. But now having been in the house and seen how many items they took out of the house, it's frankly surprising," Short said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Oct222011

Baby Lisa: Family Attorney Says Cadaver Dogs May be Misleading Officials

Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) -- The search for Lisa Irwin hit closer to home this week as cadaver dogs have picked up the scent of human remains next to the her parent's bed, according to a police affidavit.

But an attorney for the family said following the cadaver dog's nose may be misleading investigators.

"My understanding is that there are cold cases where dogs have hit on scents of decomposition that have been in the home for as long as 28 years," said Cyndy Short, in an exclusive interview with "Good Morning America." "This is an old home. 63 years old. There could be a lot of other explanations for that."

But Brad Garrett, an ABC News consultant and former FBI special agent, said cadaver dogs are typically accurate.

"In studies done of cadaver dogs where the dog has direct access to the scent and its reasonably fresh - its above 90 percent."

The affidavit, released on Friday, revealed that a cadaver dog searching for evidence for missing the 11-month-old "indicated a positive 'hit' for the scent of a deceased human" next to her mother's bed.

The affidavit was filed with a Kansas City court to request a search warrant of the family home.

The search was conducted Wednesday and police left with several items, including a large portion of carpet.

The focus of the investigation this week has been largely centered on Lisa's parents.

The couple has retained two lawyers: well-known New York defense attorney Joe Tacopina and a local Kansas City attorney.

An anonymous benefactor is offering a $100,000 reward for Baby Lisa's safe return or the conviction of whoever took the little girl.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐

Thursday
Oct202011

Missing Baby Lisa: 17-Hour Search at Family Home

Kansas City Police(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) -- Investigators in white hazmat suits carried out several large brown paper bags of evidence and a large carpet from the Kansas City, Mo., home of missing 11-month-old baby Lisa Irwin.

The 17-hour search allowed for glimpses into the types of evidence collected and the tight-lipped investigation's techniques.

This was the first search in the case that was conducted without the consent of Baby Lisa's parents, Deborah Bradley and Jeremy Irwin. Investigators obtained a search warrant from a judge.

"We felt [that] this time, since [Bradley and Irwin] had retained an attorney, to go to a judge to make sure there was no confusion over our legal right to be there," Kansas City Police Department Capt. Steve Young told ABC News.

Young could not get into details of what may have been found in the search that stretched into the early hours of Thursday morning, but he did comment more broadly on the progress of the investigation.

"This has been an ongoing case for weeks now, and it's safe to imagine in the course of it what we've learned -- new pieces of information that are pushing the case forward," Young said.

The search team at the house spent hours combing the yard with rakes and shovels. In the afternoon, bomb and arson trucks arrived with additional equipment, including machinery used to x-ray solid objects and, possibly, walls.

"They were looking for items -- materials, whether they be generic like DNA, hairs and fibers, [or] organic like leaves, dirt -- to compare to something they have," Brad Garrett, an ABC News consultant and former FBI special agent, told Good Morning America Thursday.

Police searched the home extensively in the days immediately following Lisa's disappearance with scent canines and FBI agents in hazmat suits, and police officers attempted to re-create the window break-in scenario the parents described. While authorities are mum on what caused them to return to the house more than two weeks after Lisa disappeared from her crib, Garrett said there would have to be a new component to the case in order for a judge to authorize a search warrant.

"You have to have something new, something that just has occurred to convince a judge to allow you to go back in a house with a search warrant," Garrett said.

In the past two weeks, police have cleared more than 550 tips and leads that have not led to any suspects or hard leads.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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