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.

After tragic murder of 3-year-old KCK girl, many asking how they can help at-risk children

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Original Post

The tragic murder of 3-year-old Olivia Jansen has many confused, upset, and feeling unsure how to give back.

Around 6,000 kids in the greater Kansas City metro area go through the family court system each year. Advocates say there are many ways you can help at-risk children now, and for free.

President & CEO of Jackson County CASA, Angie Blumel, said it doesn’t take a fancy degree or specialization to help a child in need. You just need a little time and a big heart.

“I think it’s natural when there’s a tragic and terrible incident in the community people wonder how can I help, what can I do,” Blumel said.

RELATED: Father and girlfriend charged in death of 3-year-old Olivia Jansen in Wyandotte County

A CASA is a court-appointed advocate for children. They are volunteers who take free training classes over a few weeks and are assigned a child.

Through the program they become a sworn member of the Jackson County Court and work with the child’s social worker, family and lawyer to make sure all of the child’s needs are met.

“Children with CASA volunteers the research tells us that they fare better,” Blumel said. “They’re able to achieve safety and permanency more quickly. They’re less likely to experience re-abuse. So we know being a CASA volunteer — it works. It works for our kids.”

KVC Kansas is the largest placement agency in the state. They sponsor around 900 foster homes in Kansas and provide assistance for 7,000 kids in out of home care. Megan Maciel is the Director of Recruitment and Communication for KVC.

“Part of our preservice training that you take before you become a foster parent is to learn specifically about the needs of children who have been impacted by trauma, and to learn to work with those children, and to learn if foster parenting is right for you,” Maciel said.

Maciel said many of KVC Kansas’ foster homes are at capacity, and they need people to sign up and become foster parents.

“Maybe you just want to foster for respite — so just take children for short times, maybe you’re interested in fostering a child for many months or up to a year, or maybe some people who are interested in adoption of fostering becomes an opportunity for them as well,” Maciel said.

To become an advocate or foster parent is easier than you might think. Both organizations offer training completely online and for free.

Maciel said there are common misconceptions about foster parenting. She said the most important qualification to become a foster parent is that you are an adult. Single people can become foster parents, along with people who already have children in the home.

“We have incredible foster parents who have several children in their homes, and so that is definitely not a limitation,” Maciel said. “Another challenge we hear is from our LGBTQ community. They can definitely become foster parents, and we encourage them to reach out.”

Tahir Atwater is the director of donor & volunteer engagement for Jackson County CASA. He works directly with volunteers and said people find becoming a CASA is incredibly rewarding.

“These kids are incredibly resilient, they’re incredibly intelligent,” Atwater said. “They’re going to go on and do great things, but they need some help along the way like everyone does. Every single time we have a volunteer that signs up, that volunteer is saying I see you, and I want to be a part of your life.”

Blumel said due to COVID-19, child abuse calls are down, but that doesn’t mean the need isn’t vital. She said once children are seen regularly again by mandatory reporters, their numbers will go up. 

“We need community members to become volunteers and support our kids and lift up their voices to ensure that they have safety and permanency in their lives,” Blumel said.

She said only about half the kids in care in Jackson County currently have an advocate. To become a CASA, you are only required to see or connect with your child about once a month.

Interested in becoming a foster or adoptive parent in Missouri?

  • Cornerstones of Care specializes in Standard and Career Foster Licenses at  1-855-SRV-KIDS (855-778-5437) or visit their website.
  • Crittenton Children’s Center (Saint Lukes) focuses on medical homes, homes that can accommodate sibling groups, and homes for older youth (age 12 and up).
    • If you are interested in learning more about this organization please reach out to Virginia Fatseas at (816) 986-5209
  • Missouri Alliance offers elevated needs training (Level A & B) to our Resource Families.  They also train our foster parents in TBRI (Trust Based Relational Intervention) as well as SOS (Signs of Safety).
    • If you are interested in learning more about this organization please reach out to Karie Scott-Roark email: KRoark@MA-CF.org.
  • Great Circle Behavioral Health for Children & Families does foster care licensing for prospective foster parents.
    • If you are interested in learning more about this organization please reach out to Jaqueline Brown at (816) 255-1503 or Jacqueline.Brown@greatcircle.org

Interested in becoming a foster or adoptive parent in Kansas?

Want to see more children who are looking for a family?

Want to become a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for foster children in the metro?

According to CASA’s website, a court appointed special advocate make a life-changing different for children who have experienced abuse or neglect. Each volunteer is appointed by a judge to advocate for a child’s best interest in court.

Their volunteers help judges develop a fuller picture of each child’s life. Their advocacy enables judges to make the most well-informed decision for each child.



Woman planning protests against Kansas DCF says it’s time to speak up to protect kids

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Original Post

A Kansas City, Kansas woman is calling for change at the Kansas Department for Children and Families. Many in Kansas City are grieving the loss of a 3-year-old girl found dead on Friday.

Saturday night a vigil was held for Olivia Jansen. A statewide Amber Alert was issued for the girl Friday. Hours later police found her body not far from 34th & Steele Road after getting a tip of a body off a trail.

Two suspects are in jail on suspicion of child abuse and first-degree murder. The girl’s father, Howard Jansen III, and his girlfriend, Jacqulyn Kirpatrick, are behind bars, formal charges were announced on Sunday evening.READ MORE: Dad of suspect accused of killing 3-year-old Kansas City, Kan., girl calls for capital punishment charge 

The organizer of the protests, Lacey Langford, says more needs to be done to protect children in Wyandotte County. 

“One baby is too much,” Langford said. “Two babies due to incompetent negligence is unacceptable on tax payer dollars.”

Langford is planning to gather a group at the KCK DCF office three evenings in the upcoming week.

“Why wasn’t somebody checking in on this family and making sure that they had the resources they needed to provide and protect their children?” Langford said.

She says Jansen’s life could have been spared if changes were made after 7-year-old Adrian Jones murder in 2015. Jones father and stepmother are both serving life sentences in the case. 

It’s still unclear how involved DCF was with Jansen’s household, but Secretary Laura Howard says they are working with law enforcement and plans to provide more information on the case in the future.

Two of Olivia’s grandmothers told FOX4 on Friday they tried to intervene and get DCF more involved.

“I did try, you know, I called the cops, I’ve called DCF, you know there’s nothing I can do,” Elisabeth Jansen, Olivia’s step-grandmother said.

“I just didn’t know what he was doing over there with her. There’s no lights, there’s no gas, there’s no water, there’s nothing for that baby to be in that house,” Vickey Saindon, Olivia’s grandmother said. “He shouldn’t have had my grandchild there.”

Langford says it’s time to speak up and make sure another Wyandotte County child isn’t lost.

“Stand up and be a voice for those who can’t speak for themselves,” Langford said. “Especially during a pandemic. There is a lot of people right now who are suffering abuse behind closed doors. Speak up. Who do we speak up to? I really don’t know. Maybe each other. That’s the idea of the protest.”

Secretary Howard released this statement to FOX4 after news of the protests:


If you are interested in attending the protests there is more information on their Facebook event page.

Family, community desperately searching for Missouri mom missing for nearly two months

BENTON COUNTY, Mo. — Original Post

A young woman in Central Missouri is desperately searching for her mother.

The Benton County sheriff said 48-year-old Echo Lloyd was last seen in early May. Both her daughter and the sheriff said they need to bring Echo home. 

It’s been nearly 55 days since anyone has seen Echo Lloyd. Her daughter, Kelsey Smith, said she misses her every day.

“She’s not just a mom. She’s a best friend,” Smith said.

Lloyd was last seen on Mother’s Day in Edwards, Missouri. Smith said she talked to her that day and brought her mother flowers and a card and left them on her porch.

At some point that weekend both Lloyd’s cellphone and home phone started going straight to voicemail, her daughter said. 

“My mom did not just wander off,” Smith said. “Something happened to her, and it’s time to figure out what it is.”

Benton County Sheriff Eric Knox said they’re doing their best to find her. He got the Missouri State Highway Patrol involved, along with the FBI. They’ve done ground searches with volunteer firefighters. 

Knox said based on what they found, it does not seem as though Lloyd has the resources to be on her own. There has been no activity on her cellphone, and no use of her bank account. Smith said Lloyd takes medication she needs. 

“She’s on several medications that she does not have with her,” Knox said, “nor does she have her billfold or her car. She is absolutely missing without a trace.”

Both Smith and Knox are asking the public to come forward with tips about what they know in the case.

“I need people to listen and help get her face out there,” Smith pleaded. “I need someone brave to be able to step forward because someone knows what happened to my mom.”

“Somebody somewhere knows something, and we need that person or those people to step forward and help us out to give closure to this family,” Knox said.

Smith said she feels helpless as the days pass. Her mother lives in a rural area with miles of rough land around her home.

She said at this point she could be anywhere.

“We need all the help we can get — from whoever, whatever group,” Smith said. “Bring your dogs, bring your planes, bring your boats, bring whatever you can, bring your people. There’s so much land out here.”

She said she won’t give up until she finds Echo and brings her home.

“I will never stop fighting for her. I will never stop being her voice,” Smith said. “I will not stop until she is home.”

If you have any information on this case, please call the Missouri State Highway Patrol at 573-526-6178. You can also connect with Smith through the Bring Echo Home Facebook page.

Family of metro woman killed by boyfriend calls for domestic violence database

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Original Post

A Topeka man has been sentenced to 12 years in federal prison for killing his girlfriend on a cruise.

Eric Newman, 55, killed Tamara Tucker, 50, on a Carnival Cruise ship off the coast of Florida in January 2018. 

He was sentenced at the federal courthouse in Kansas City, Kansas, on Wednesday after confessing to the crime and being convicted of second-degree murder. 

Tucker’s family hopes people look past what happened to her and that Tamara’s memory can create change. Her brother, Bo Tucker, said Tamara dedicated her life to help others.

“Tamara’s life was dedicated to public service,” Bo said. “Teaching and advocating for social justice, especially for those who could not fend for themselves.”

“For me being her niece and growing up with all of my cousins, she was amazing with all of us. She always put us first over everybody,” her niece, Anna Tucker, said.

Tucker taught social work at Park University and was the program director at the Child Abuse Prevention Association. 

U.S. Attorney, Stephen McAllister, said Newman was abusing her when he killed her.

“We know that Mr. Newman choked Miss Tucker and had his hands around her neck when he pushed her over the railing of their balcony and she fell to her death on the 11th deck below,” McAllister said.

Tucker’s family is calling for a national domestic violence database, much like a sex-offender registry. 

“It would make me feel blessed that we have lawmakers who can see a need, and it’s not just Tamara,” Bo said. “Tamara is gone, but how many more people can we help?”

Newman was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison and five years probation. Tamara’s sister, Dawn Tucker, said a registry like this could have saved her sister’s life.

“I can tell you that we would have looked Eric up on this registry if it had existed, and we would have done everything in our power to remove my sister from that harm,” Dawn said.

A search of Newman’s criminal history shows four cases of domestic abuse in the state of Kansas between 2000 and 2013. Tucker’s family says if lawmakers could put a database like this in place, it would continue Tamara’s mission of education and social work.

“It’s not just about today and a sad family, but it’s about changing the laws and the ways people view domestic violence,” Tamara’s mother, Meredith Tucker, said.

Tucker’s case was prosecuted federally because it happened offshore. Prosecutors said they had the ability to try the case in Florida or in the offender’s state of origin.

Coworkers step up to help Olathe man’s family, injured in drunk driver crash

SPRING HILL, Kan. — Original Post

An Olathe man’s family may never be the same.

Prosecutors say a drunk driver hit his family. Ten people were injured in the crash, including several members of his family.

Now, the man’s boss and coworkers are doing everything they can to help him in his time of need.

For people driving in Olathe, the crash was a terrible sight on June 28.

“Crashes like these don’t happen every day, very significant crash,” Olathe Fire Capt. Mike Hall said. “We just hope everyone’s OK.”

At Old 56 Highway near Harrison Street, four vehicles were involved. There was significant damage to two vehicles.

A black sedan rear-ended a minivan belonging to a man named Jose, the head chef at Bull Creek Distillery. Owner Mike Denny said when he heard his family was hit, Jose dropped everything.

“Jose just left. That is very unlike Jose,” Denny said. “Usually he is one of the best employees we’ve ever had.”

Denny said Jose’s wife and children were in the van, and he was horrified to see the images of the crash. The family was spread out across three separate hospitals.

“It was breathtakingly terrible, to see something like that when it’s someone you know and it’s their family. Jose was supposed to be in the car with his family,” Denny said. “I can’t even imagine what that would be like having those thoughts go through your head.”

The Johnson County prosecuting attorney charged the driver, Miguel Perez-Ramirez, with 10 counts of aggravated battery during a DUI and two counts of aggravated child endangerment.

“He should go to jail for a long time,” Denny said.

Denny said employees put out a jar for donations, information on how to help at every table and the ability to donate through their point of service at every transaction.

Coworkers gave their tips, and some even signed their paychecks over to Jose.

“It’s powerful. Money is important. It’s what makes the world go round,” Denny said. “To see somebody realize there’s things more important and willing to sacrifice their hard work to help out one of their colleagues is amazing.”

Denny said Jose’s family may have lifelong expenses because of their injuries.

“They’re going to need all the help they can get,” Denny said. “They weren’t asking for this. They were just sitting at a light, and their lives got blindsided.”

He hopes people will step up to help in any way they can. Between Jose’s extended family and Bull Creek, they’ve raised around $15,000 for the family, but Denny said they’ll need much more to stay afloat financially.

“If they can set aside some money for Jose and his family, it would go a long way. It’s going to be a hard time for them,” Denny said.

If you would like to help, you can donate through the family’s Gofundme page or donate at Bull Creek Distillery. Denny said 100% of the funds raised through the distillery will go to the family.

Local grassroots groups unite to stage violence prevention events

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Original Post

A coalition of urban core groups is meeting Monday afternoon to discuss what more they can do to reduce gun violence in the city.

Yet another shooting Monday morning near East 114th Street and Spring Valley Road has left a man fighting for his life in the hospital.

Police say just after 7 a.m. someone fired seven shots into a home in southeast Kansas City. Police tell FOX4 a man in his 20’s was hit by at least one of the gunshots and is in critical condition at the hospital right now.

Kansas City has had 99 homicides so far this year, according to police, but around 400 shooting incidents, just like this one.

That’s why 25 different grassroots groups, representing the Justice and Dignity Coalition, met Monday to develop more activities and events, which bring people together peacefully.

“Sometimes you wake up and it’s unbelievable,” said Sheoni Givens, of the Transitions For Life Foundation, a member of the coalition. “It’s another kid, another person and another person in the street. It’s ridiculous! We have to value life. That’s what we lost sight of. We don’t value each other’s life. We think we have the right to take it, when we haven’t given life.”

A vacant parking lot near 31st Street and The Paseo is next to the police Central Patrol District. It may soon stage Smoke Your Tires events, where police and teenagers can show off their driving skills by doing donuts, safely.

Other events may include three-on-three basketball tournaments, a Day of Dignity and making drive-in movies available in the urban core.

Kansas City managed to avoid reaching 100 homicides during the holiday weekend, but just barely.

Now community leaders say they need to make sure they’re doing everything they can to mediate disputes and develop events to bring people together instead of drive them apart.

After spending 23 years in prison for a wrongful conviction, Ricky Kidd becomes viral sensation on TikTok

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Original Post

It’s been around ten months since Ricky Kidd was exonerated. Since then, his life looks completely different.

He describes it as a wild and fast roller coaster ride with a whirlwind of meaningful and surprising moments.

Kidd was freed from prison in September after spending 23 years behind bars for a 1996 homicide that he did not commit.

“I feel like I just walked out of a nightmare and into a dream,” Kidd said. 

But when the news cameras lost their focus, and he had to start his life, Ricky took action.

“To have that opportunity where the coach says you’re in. So, you take that ball, you dribble it on the court, you square it up, and you try to make a basket,” Kidd said.

He started his own company, ‘I am Resilience.’

Kidd began speaking engagements, taking private classes on resilience itself, started therapy, and is working toward teaching workshops about how to live your life with purpose.

One way he is getting his message out is through TikTok. His 9-year-old granddaughter told him about the app, and he signed up to use it with her.

People started encouraging him to use it to connect with people, and his videos took off.

He has more than four million views, nearly one million likes, and more than one hundred thousand followers.

“It started going viral. Fast. You get to put the little bubbles up top of 23 years wrongfully convicted, now helping others, using my life, and it didn’t stop. The numbers just kept ticking and ticking.” Kidd said.

The funny videos have a serious message about being resilient and criminal justice reform. Ricky says it’s exciting to tell a new generation about his story. 

He also fell in love with a colleague, Dawn Elizabeth. They work together on Ricky’s brand. Recently the couple got engaged and found out they are having a baby girl.

When Kidd was originally arrested in the mid-1990s his girlfriend at the time was pregnant with a baby girl. Kidd was released from prison as a grandfather, and now feels he gets to finally experience what being a father to a little girl is outside of prison.

“Now I get to see what that looks like, and feels like, and fully present. I mean, fully present,” Kidd said.

“It means everything to me, I’ve waited a long time,” Elizabeth said. “To have a little girl, to be able to bring her up in the world and to know that she has fierce strong parents.”

Kidd says they are naming her Harmony Justice Kidd to match his life’s mission. He plans to work on criminal justice reform helping others he believes are wrongfully convicted get out of jail like he did. 

Ricky says, while what he went through was wrong, what he has now 23 years was worth the wait. 

“I’m happy. I am happy. For the first time, and I think I can say that,” Kidd said.

If you are interested in taking one of Ricky’s resilience workshops, or learning more about his mission, you can subscribe to his mailing list. You can find him on TikTok at the handle @mrresilience.