Blue Springs brushing scam victim says unwanted package came from Wuhan, China

BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. — Original Post

You didn’t order it. You didn’t want it. So, why is it showing up at your house? People across the United States are finding packages in their mailboxes without an explanation. One Blue Springs woman is part of that group. The package she received came from Wuhan, China.

When most people order something online, they want it as soon as possible. However, when Tanya Hillyard opened her mail, she was less than pleased.

“I instantly panicked,” Hillyard said. “You hear everything over there starting from Wuhan. I opened it in my house. I panicked. My children, and my husband. It was really kind of nerve-racking.”

The tiny orange bag is part of a brushing scam. Sellers send you an item you didn’t want and then they are able to make a positive review under your name. It boosts their profile as a seller and helps them seem more legitimate to people actually looking to buy from them.

“It’s just scary that they have your address, your phone number, and then it shows up and they can just do that, If that’s what’s happening,” HIllyard said. “They can just write a review by simply shipping something to your address. It’s just weird.”

The Better Business Bureau says this is bad news. Out there on the internet your name, address, and phone number may be up for grabs to scammers.

Many people have reported getting seeds in packages marked jewelry they never ordered. The BBB says it has received reports from people who got humidifiers, vacuum cleaners, jewelry and other merchandise.

“It makes me nervous I guess that they have my address and they shipped something to me,” HIllyard said. “I’m definitely keeping an eye on all my accounts to make sure they didn’t get ahold of anything like that.”

Tanya says whoever sent her the package may write a review for her, but she has one of her own.

“Please don’t do it again,” HIllyard said. “I don’t want any of your junk.”

If you received a similar package what can you do? The BBB says make sure to notify Amazon or whatever site the package originated from if you can figure it out, and make sure to change your passwords. Also, you can keep the item you got in the mail, but you’ll probably just want to throw it away.

Olathe restaurant, customers helping local foster kids get their first cars

OLATHE, Kan. — Original Post

A restaurant in Olathe is doing more than selling chicken. They’re helping foster kids get their first cars.

But it’s not just them. Their customers and the teens themselves are making it possible.

When you turn the key to your first car, it sounds a little sweeter. Eighteen-year-old Brianna Simms is grateful for her 2009 Toyota Camry. 

“It makes me feel like an adult,” Simms said. “Being able to go and do things without having to rely on other people, it makes me feel useful for myself.”

Simms spent three years in foster care and recently aged out. She’s going to college full time at Kansas City, Kansas, Community College, studying to be an EMT, and also works at Walmart to pay her bills.

“It took a lot of work to get where we are now,” Simms said.

She got a car with the help of YOUTHrive, an organization mentoring and helping foster kids learn financial planning.

They offer foster teens courses to help them learn budgeting and saving money. Part of the class is having a job and saving money toward a car, rent or even a computer. 

Tim Gay, the founder & executive director of YOUTHrive, said this helps them get a hand up to creating an independent life.

“We’re teaching them how to budget their money and how to save their money,” Gay said. “So hopefully they’re learning that life skill that they need to save money on a regular basis.”

“This was a perfect fit,” said Todd Thompson, the owner of Strip’s Chicken in Olathe. “We ask every person that comes in whether they want to round up a hug for foster kids, and we match those donations.”

Nichole Reusch works at Strip’s and asks each customer in the drive-thru if they will round up their bill for the program. Her mother fostered children and grew up knowing many foster kids.

“It means a lot,” Reusch said. “It’s nice to know that there are still good people who want to help.”

Customers donate their change, sometimes even more, and Strip’s matches it. Brianna saved up half of the cost of the car herself by following YOUTHrive’s program.

“It was very exciting to finally be able to drive and be able to say I own something so big and special that a lot of people don’t get,” Simms said.

“They’re so excited! You can see the joy in their eyes,” Thompson said. “I think it provides them a peace of mind, that they’re loved, that people are caring about the success of their future.”

All the money raised at Strip’s goes to help kids in Johnson, Wyandotte and Douglas counties. Thompson said over the past few years, they’ve raised around $15,000 with the help of customers. It’s gone to helping 13 foster teens get vehicles. 

Thompson said they’re planning to open a second location in KCMO’s Waldo neighborhood, and they’re planning to do a similar program for kids on the Missouri side.

If you are a business and want to help foster teens, Gay said you can also work with them on matching donations. They are also always looking for mentors to work with foster youth through their MyPath program.

Work for metro contact tracers piles up as coronavirus cases climb

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Original Post

Health departments across the metro are overwhelmed.

As COVID-19 cases climb, the work for contact tracers has been piling up. Many departments are coming up with creative ways to keep their numbers manageable. 

Hannah Conner, an epidemiologist with Wyandotte County, said for every case of COVID-19, a tracer makes on average three calls. However, that number could be more or less.

In Johnson County, they have expanded their tracing from one person to a team. Their director of epidemiology, Elizabeth Holzchuch, said they’ve had to think quickly about how to best handle the caseload.

“From the early days where we were getting one a day or not even that many to now where we’re getting 125-150 a day — we’ve had to adapt our processes,” Holzchuch said.

Contact tracers in most metro counties are overwhelmed with cases. In Johnson County, many people with no history in public health have stepped up to help.

“We actually pulled in case investigators from throughout our departments, as well as through out the county government,” Holtzchuch said. “People have been pulled off their regular duties to assist sometimes throughout the entire week.”

Wyandotte County also puled people out of work, but are now hiring more. Conner said they also use volunteers from surrounding colleges to work on tracing.

“That was not a sustainable model as cases continued to increase for efficiency and staying on top of everything we realized we needed to hire several full-time people,” Conner said.

In Kansas City, Missouri, the health department is contracting out tracing on top of the employees they’ve already hired. 

In Clay County, Liberty Schools said they are looking to hire their own tracers to ease the burden on their health department. 

While these numbers seem overwhelming, both women said wearing masks and social distancing can help keep caseloads manageable. 

“Our one goal is to try and slow the spread, and now that we’re talking about reopening schools — slowing the spread is more important than ever if we want our kids to go back to school safely,” Holzschuh said.

“We do all have to work together, and our contact tracing is most effective if we can have this manageable number of cases,” Conner said.

Daughter, police push for tips in case of Prairie Village mom missing for over a year

PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. — Original Post

The Prairie Village Police Department is asking for tips in the disappearance of Angela Green.

The Johnson County mother was reported missing eight months after she was last seen in June 2019. Investigators hope someone will call in the tip that will bring Angela home.

Her 19-year-old daughter, Ellie Green, said her mother is a homebody.EXCLUSIVE: Daughter of missing Prairie Village woman aching for answers as disappearance surpasses a year 

“My mom didn’t have a credit, debit card,” Ellie said. “So she didn’t really get out into the world much.”

So when her mother was suddenly gone, it didn’t make sense. Back in June 2019, she said her dad told her Angela was in the hospital. Three weeks later, he told Ellie she died.

“He just told me — Angela had a stroke,” Ellie said. “Didn’t tell me anything else. I cried out. The world got blurry. I was shocked. I couldn’t even cry.”

In February, Ellie said she drove to Topeka for her mother’s death certificate and was told there was no record of her death in the entire state. She said police have since told her there’s no record in the nation.

“That’s when I knew something was really really wrong,” Ellie said.

Her realization launched an investigation. Prairie Village police served search warrants on her family home and a property where she said her father stores vintage cars in Olathe.

“We hope to bring Angela Green home,” Prairie Village Police Capt. Ivan Washington said.

Washington said the investigation is still active, but they need tips from the public.

“That could be anything. That could be the slightest thing you might think is insignificant,” Washington said. “If you know where Mrs. Green is, that would be ideal, but any information would be beneficial, and it would give us an opportunity to track down those leads.”

“I miss her so so much,” Ellie said. “I just want to know what really happened, and I want her to know I love her a lot.”

Anyone with information is encouraged to call Prairie Village Police at 913-642-6868 or contact the anonymous Crime Stoppers TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS (8477). 

Daughter of missing Prairie Village woman aching for answers as disappearance surpasses a year

PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. — Original Post

Her mother has been gone more than a year without a trace. Now, Angela Green’s daughter wants to know where her mother is, and she hopes someone will help break the case.

While Green hasn’t been seen since June of 2019, she was reported missing in February of 2020 by her daughter, Ellie Green.

Police searched for clues across Johnson County, but there’s no sign of Angela, and no arrests in this case. It’s a story that has left many people baffled, and asking questions.

Angela Green and Ellie Green (Photos courtesy Ellie Green)

FOX4 spoke with Green, and also asked her husband if he knows where she is. 

Ellie Green says her mother dedicated her life to making sure she had everything she needed.

“I absolutely love her,” Ellie said. “She is incredible, and she would give without receiving anything back. She poured her soul into raising me and taking care of me growing up, so I was her world.”

The 19-year-old says her mother pushed her to excellence. Green graduated valedictorian of Shawnee Mission East High School in 2018.

Ellie says it was hard for her mother when she moved to Lawrence to attend KU. Green is pursuing classes in finance and law and is going into her junior year.

“She struggled with me being dependent on her, but at the same she wanted me to be independent and get out there and spread my wings,” Green said. “So it was definitely hard for her as a mother to let go. I don’t know if she ever did.”

Angela Green and Ellie Green (Photos courtesy Ellie Green)

Ellie says June 20th of 2019 was the last day she saw her mom. She was studying abroad and just got back from her trip.

She says her mother was anxious to get her back home and wanted her to stay for the summer.

Green says when she got home she and her mother got into a small fight like many teenagers and moms do.

She left to stay with her boyfriend’s family, but got concerned when she didn’t hear from her mother for three days. Green says when she reached out to her father he told her she was gone. She says when she went back home, things weren’t the same.

“I felt it three days after I left the house when I went back for the first time and my Dad said Mom is gone, the door is open, you’re welcome to stay here,” Green said. “I had an eerie feeling about the house.”

She says she wishes she didn’t leave things with her mother the way they did.

“Of course I wished I had hugged her, said I love you, said something to her,” Green said.

Angela Green and Ellie Green (Photos courtesy Ellie Green)

She says her dad, Geoff Green, told her first that her mother was in a hospital dealing with a mental health crisis.

On July 16th, she says he contacted her and told her that Angela died of a stroke in the hospital. She says her father told her she’d died in her room overnight. Ellie says he asked her to not tell Angela’s family about her mother’s death.

“It wasn’t a secret I wanted to keep,” Green said.

Green says she thought her father would tell Angela’s family when he felt ready, but that day never came.

She says time passed and she felt upset, angry, and felt they deserved to know.

In February, she called her aunt, who lives out out of state and told her about her mother’s death. Her aunt asked her to find proof her mother died.

“I drove to Topeka the next day and asked them for a death certificate, and they found her through my dad’s marriage license and couldn’t find any record in the state of Kansas,” Green said.

Neighbors asked for a wellness check be done to try and find Angela, and Ellie filed a missing persons report with Prairie Village Police Department.

Angela Green and Ellie Green (Photos courtesy Ellie Green)

On March 11, Prairie Village police served two warrants looking for information that may lead them to Green.

One was at a property in Olathe where Green says her father stores vintage cars he works on, and they also searched the family’s home on Tomahawk Dr.

“She never left. She never left,” Green said. “Honestly, even to go to the grocery store she would have someone like me or my Dad with her. She didn’t go out on her own ever.”

Ellie says her mother’s purse, phone and passport were all at home. She says police told her there is no record of a death certificate nationwide, and Angela has not pulled money out of her bank account.

According to her daughter, Green did not use a debit or credit card. She says her mother would not go shopping on her own or venture out much.

Green says once police started looking into where her mother might be, her father was suddenly saying she was alive again.

“He said that she was out partying with friends, and would be back later that night,” Green said. “My mom never drank, never smoked. Never went to a party.”

FOX4’s Sherae Honeycutt went to Geoff Green’s home to get his side of the story, and to ask if he knew where Angela is today.

Angela Green and Ellie Green (Photos courtesy Ellie Green)

He opened the door and said he did not know where Angela was and he had no comment. Ellie says her father has hired a lawyer, but Green did not refer FOX4 to speak with one.

Ellie is hoping someone can help police with the information they need to find her mother — whatever that may mean.

“If she’s not here anymore she deserved so much more time in the world. If she’s not there I love her and I hope she’s safe,” Green said.

FOX4 also reached out to Prairie Village Police Department for an update on the case, but did not hear back.

‘Missouri should be very proud’: US Defense Secretary impressed during visit to Whiteman AFB

JOHNSON COUNTY, Mo. — Original Post

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper touched down Wednesday at Whiteman Air Force Base, home to the B-2 Stealth Bomber. 

He met with troops, toured the base and spoke with FOX4 about COVID-19 and diversity. But he said his trip was about more than looking at the fleet. Esper came to connect with the base’s air men and women.

“The people, Missouri should be very proud of this,” Esper said. “I’ve been very impressed with all of the briefings I’ve received today, and the discussions about the capabilities that this force brings and how well they’re doing holding up in a COVID environment, implementing the guidance we’ve been putting out since January.”

Esper said Whiteman AFB is unique in how well these active Air Force members have been working with reserves during the pandemic. He said they have been working together to get medicine to those who need it.

“I’ve never seen integration like this,” Esper said. “It’s hand-in-glove relationship, seamless, and I’m very impressed by what I saw today. I gotta say the Air Force overall does this very well. So very impressed by what I saw.”

Esper concluded his trip with a discussion about diversity within the Air Force.

“The military is very diverse. That’s a strength of ours to be diverse,” Esper said. “At the end of day, it’s all about improving cohesion, morale and readiness. And the more that we can we can have a diverse, inclusive force that everybody believes offers equal opportunity, the stronger we will be in defense of the American people.”

He said he hopes to work toward removing visible pronouns and anything that may trigger unconscious bias.

After nearly 30 hours missing, Overland Park woman found safe thanks to volunteers’ help

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Original Post

An Overland Park woman at the center of a silver alert is safe. All thanks to volunteers of the city’s Community Emergency Response Team.

It was a frantic search for Mary Beam lasting nearly 30 hours. Kyle Burns, the city’s emergency manager, says they were concerned about her safety.

“We just could not find her at that point,” Burns said. “The message went out to twenty five thousand residents. We waited an hour and did not hear anything from anyone.”

Beam, who is in her 80s, went for a walk during a heat advisory. Burns says police relayed she suffered from dementia and a heart condition.

Dennis Smeltzer is the coordinator of the response team. He says once people were aware of the need they came out as fast as they could.

“We used our mechanisms that we have within the city to let our CERT team know that there was a search and rescue event, and in a very short period of time we had about twenty one people show up in about an hour,” Smeltzer said.

The Community Emergency Response Team, or “CERT”, is made up of volunteers. It’s a free FEMA based program citizens can train for to help their community in emergencies and disasters. The seven week program is broken into about three hour training sessions each.

The team combed the area near 135th & Metcalf. In 30 minutes they were able to locate her alive through a ground search. A volunteer who was a nurse was able to start tending to her immediately.

“She was just so happy that she was able to find her and that she was in the condition that she was in,” Burns said. “It was just an emotional moment that we were able to accomplish this task.”

Beam was in an area of overgrown brush. She was dehydrated and had bug bites, but was OK.

“When they got up there and found out that she was actually breathing, she has a decent pulse, they were just ecstatic they were able to report back to the first responders — we found her, and she’s alive,” Smeltzer said.

If you would like to learn more about how to join the Overland Park CERT you can visit their website here.

KC Blueprint, new plan to curb crime, unanimously passes city council

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Original Post

There’s a new way to fight violence in Kansas City. On Thursday, the City Council passed KC Blueprint unanimously.

Its creators say the plan is a way for everyone to get involved and fight violence at the source.

Rashid Junaid, a program manager with Aim 4 Peace, has been working on the document since its inception more than three years ago. Over 60 local entities contributed to its final version.

“It shows you how you can contribute to make system changes and policy changes and community changes that prevents violence,” Junaid said. “Every sector. It identifies every sector in the community and how they can help.”

It was put together by the Kansas City Health Department, Violence Free Kansas City Committee and the Health Commission. 

“Violence isn’t just a, ‘Hey, what are police doing this week?’ type of question. It’s instead, ‘What are we doing? How can we mentor? How can we make those differences in our community?’” Mayor Quinton Lucas said. 

“I’m very excited and I feel like this is a great first step in our city towards a comprehensive all in approach to violence prevention,” said Marvia Jones, the violence prevention & policy manager with the Kansas City Health Department.

With a historic homicide rate in the city, many wonder what they can do. The free document gives every sector of the community — from businesses, churches, nonprofits, and more — ways they can help.

“Mobilize. Implement. Join what’s going on,” Junaid said. “You can make an impact by being a part of this blueprint. There’s something for everyone in it. We just have to read it and see where we find ourselves in the blueprint.”

Tammy Bucker is a business owner and runs We Code KC, an organization aimed at helping kids in the urban core learn to code. She loves the idea and plans to use the blueprint. Buckner hopes others will follow her lead.

“These teenagers, they need mentors that they can see, that they can resemble and say, ‘I can actually do this. I can be a welder, a construction owner, a software developer,’” Buckner said.

“I’m just really happy to see the support, and I know that our city is hurting, and I hope this is a step towards healing,” Jones said.

The Health Department hopes each individual business, organization and person will look at it and take on two of its recommendations.

You can read KC Blueprint here.

KC Blueprint: Comprehensive plan to address city’s violence heads to council

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Original Post

It’s a plan designed to fight violence, and now it’s in the hands of the city council.

On Wednesday, the Neighborhood Planning & Development Committee passed KC Blueprint. 

The plan is three years in the making, and it’s collaborators say it’s needed now more than ever, as the city’s homicide rate tops 100 for the year.

Marvia Jones, the violence prevention & policy manager at the KC Health Department, presented the plan to the committee.

“What the KC Blueprint really involves that letting people know that we are all accountable, and there is something that all of us can do,” Jones said.

The roughly 60-page document addresses how to fight violence in Kansas City from youth through adulthood through social gateways instead of primarily through law enforcement.

Sixty local organizations contributed to the program with their input. The Kansas City Health Department, Violence Free Kansas City Committee and the Health Commission plan to work with organizations across the city to implement it in a number of sectors including health, faith, education, business and more.

“Us passing this says that the city has a role that isn’t specifically on the law enforcement side,” 3rd District Councilwoman Melissa Robinson said. “That we are doing everything we can to address crime and violence from a comprehensive perspective.”

“I think what my colleagues are doing here is absolutely spot on, and I think we need to move forward with this,” 2nd District at-Large Councilwoman Teresa Loar said.

The blueprint passed unanimously through the committee. There was some question of oversight and effectiveness, but there was no opposition to the plan.

“I’m very pleased, very happy to see support come out of this committee for an approach that has been proved to be effective for violence prevention,” Jones said.

Aishah Coppage lost her 8-year-old son Montell and 9-year-old nephew Jayden to gun violence in 2016. She said KC Blueprint gives her hope for families.

“[It] helps them through this not only psychological but help them figure out what should they do with their anger, what should their grief, what — they don’t know what to do. They’re kids,” Coppage said.

“There is still work to be done,” Robinson said. “The first step is to recognize that we all have a role to play, and the city to adopt the plan so that we can start to work on implementation.”

The Health Department said cities like New Orleans, Minneapolis and Milwaukee have seen success from similar plans. It goes to the city council Thursday, and if approved, it is green-lighted for immediate adoption.

As COVID-19 cases rise, local hospitals working to get people tested, results back quickly

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Original Post

With COVID-19 cases on the rise, people who want to get tested are having a harder time getting tests or getting back their test results quickly.

Many hospitals say they are doing their best to process tests as fast as they can.

“We are still seeing large volumes of patients come in. Our inpatient volumes continue to go up,” said Marc Larsen, operations director for St. Luke’s Health System’s COVID-19 response team.

St. Luke’s is processing around 800-1,000 tests per day. The University of Kansas Health System is doing about the same number.

Dr. Rachael Liesman, KU Health System’s director of microbiology who also manages their COVID-19 testing lab, said sometimes they have difficulty getting supplies.

“We have had supply chain issues essentially across the board,” Liesman said. “So when this process started, we talked a lot about how we couldn’t find the appropriate swab. And that continues to be a problem, but has been somewhat alleviated.”

She said this isn’t just a problem at the health system, but everywhere.

It comes at a time where Larsen said a growing number of people are showing up to be tested because of symptoms.

“They’re people who have been vigilant and have been masking when they went out. But they’ve had short lapses where they went to a friend’s house for dinner where one had it, and then all of them got it,” Larsen said.

Both hospitals can get results back to patients in a day or two. If patients are high risk, it’s possible to get results within the same day.

“We try to keep our outpatient turnaround time at 48 hours or less,” Liesman said. “This is important for patients, you know. We ask that they go into quarantine, especially if they’re symptomatic while they wait for results. And so we don’t want to force them to quarantine for long periods of time.”

They urge people to keep wearing a mask and wash their hands. It’s the best way to keep yourself and others safe.

“Kudos to the community for embracing some of the mask requirements on both sides of the state line,” Larsen said. “People still have to remain vigilant. The mask is one layer of protection for you, but it’s not the be all, end all.”

Larsen said they are doing more tests daily, and the number of positive cases is on an upswing in the past month.