Last month, independent news outlet the Kansas City Defender used their social media platform to alert the public about a possible serial killer in the area. Several Black women were reported missing, sparking growing concerns that they’d been victims of targeted abductions.
The outlet shared a video of Bishop Tony Caldwell of Eternal Life Church stating that four Black women were killed and another three were missing. Caldwell demanded to know why more wasn’t being done to shed light on the situation. With the help of the Kansas City Defender, the video went viral. However, police denied the idea of a serial killer almost immediately.
On Sept. 26, local news station FOX4KC shared a statement from KCPD Officer Donna Drake. “We want to make the public aware that this claim is completely unfounded. There is no basis to support this rumor,” she said. On Oct. 7, a Black woman escaped from a home in Excelsior Springs — a city just north-east of Kansas City. The unnamed victim still had a collar with a padlock around her neck that was later removed by police.
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The frightened 22-year-old told Kansas City police that she’s been locked in a basement for a month and identified 39-year-old Timothy M. Haslett as her abductor. She said she escaped while Haslett was bringing his son to school one morning, according to The Guardian. The woman added that she was constantly raped and beaten and her friends “did not make it out.”
After hearing about the woman and the other victims, Caldwell told the Kansas City Defender, “At first, the police said there was no evidence of a serial killer or any young ladies missing. I could see them saying we can’t comment on an ongoing investigation and leave it at that, but for them to say conclusively it’s not happening, to completely shut our concerns down, that’s just wrong.”
He added, “Something could have been done back then. There’s a possibility their loved ones could have been saved if folks would have acted back when our community was first making these reports, instead of waiting for the young lady to escape. If she didn’t escape, we would’ve never known, truly. We would’ve never known this was happening.” Haslett is currently in police custody and pleaded not guilty to charges including rape, kidnap and assault.
On Sunday (Oct. 16), The Guardian said a Kansas City police spokesperson stood firm in their decision to dismiss the case. “We do still maintain that there is no indication that what you guys reported was accurate and there was no indication that there was anything that supported that claim,” they said.