Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Presentation explains how 40-year-old murder case was cracked

The leader of the investigative team that solved the 40-year-old murder of a prominent black political figure explained how police cracked the cold case in a presentation Wednesday hosted by the AdHoc Group Against Crime.

Sergeant Richard Sharp of KCPD’s Cold Case Squad will presented about how the Leon Jordan case was reopened and solved at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 5, in the Lucile Bluford Library, 3050 Prospect Ave.

“There have been so many questions raised about this since it occurred in 1970,” AdHoc President Alvin Brooks said. “‘Whodunit? And for what reason?’ Sergeant Sharp and his squad reinvestigated it, and they came up with the answers.”

Jordan, the founder of Freedom, Inc., and a powerful member of the Missouri Legislature, was gunned down outside the Green Duck Tavern at 26th and Prospect on July 15, 1970. Two men initially were charged in the case, but those charges were dropped, and the case went cold. At the urging of local civil rights leader Alvin Sykes, now-retired Chief James Corwin ordered the Cold Case Unit to re-open Jordan’s case. They did so in August 2010.

After untangling a web of politics and organized crime, Sergeant Sharp and his detectives identified three suspects by December 2010. Those suspects were Robert “Bob” Willis, James L. “Monk” Johnson, and James “Doc” Dearborn. All are now deceased. In early 2011, the Jackson County Prosecutor declared the preponderance of evidence in the new investigation showed those were the three responsible and closed the case.

Brooks said the Sept. 5 event is a great chance for the public to learn more and ask questions about the case just four blocks from where it happened, but it provides another opportunity, as well.

“It will be an interesting evening for those who want to know something about Kansas City’s African-American history,” he said.

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