Kansas City police have identified the fifth man found on or near a South Kansas City hiking trail as 31-year-old Chase Hardin. The other four men who were murdered in the last nine months were all white and middle-aged. Three were walking dogs.
“The other four had similarities,” said KCPD Captain Stacey Graves, “but at this time we do not believe this homicide here shares those similarities.” What Graves does not say is whether Hardin was white. To add to the confusion, there were two “Chase Hardins” listed on Facebook, both of the right age, one white, one black. The profile of the black Hardin seems to have been removed. As of this writing, there is no relevant posting on the pages of the white Hardin.
Unlike the previous four murder victims, Hardin has a criminal past. He was convicted of burglary in 2016. This factor, rather than race, may be the reason police are insisting that the case is unrelated to the others, but the KCPD’s evasiveness on race is maddening.
The murder of popular restauranteur Mike Darby two weeks ago finally got the media’s attention as well the involvement of the FBI. His body was found along the Indian Creek Trail just east of State Line Road in south Kansas City.
In August 2016, 54-year-old John Palmer was found along the Indian Creek Trail at Bannister Road and Lydia Avenue. Police did not disclose details of how he was murdered. In February, David Lenox was shot and killed while walking his dogs on the grounds of the Willow Creek Apartment just north of the trail off Wornall. Of the four, his is the only case in which the police have disclosed the manner in which he was killed.
In April 57-year-old man Timothy S. Rice of Excelsior Spring was found dead inside a shelter at Minor Park alongside the Blue River about two miles south of its intersection with Indian Creek. Of the first three murders, Lenox’s death was the only one to merit more than a perfunctory paragraph or two in the Kansas City Star, and that was due to the persistence of his children in seeking information about his death.
As it happens in Kansas City, just hours before Hardin’s body was found, a search party canvassed the same trail looking for a missing 18 year old woman, Desirea Ferris. Ferris, from Liberty, went missing four weeks ago. Authorities suspect foul play, thus the search. Ferris is white. The area is racially mixed.