Monday, December 3, 2012

Nude Torso Found In River Sparks Serial Killer Fears

April 19, 1991
KANSAS CITY, MO. — The discovery of the nude torso of a woman's body in the Missouri River this week has revived fears a serial killer is preying on Kansas City prostitutes, streetwalkers and police said Thursday. The Jack the Ripper-style killings stretch back nine years, during which the bodies of six other women who were stabbed or beaten to death have turned up in the river. The last three victims had their legs removed at their hips with surgical precision, police said. Before Monday's discovery of the legless torso, the latest discovery was that of Ronda Dennis, 16, in May 1988.

Woman's Torso, Legs Found, May Be Serial Killer Victim

September 15, 1994
KANSAS CITY, MO. — Divers combed the muddy banks of the Missouri River on Wednesday for clues in the slaying of a woman whose torso and legs were recovered from the river this week, authorities said. She may be the fourth victim of a serial killer, authorities said. The first woman was slain in 1986. The main link in all the cases is that the legs were surgically amputated at the hip, authorities said. Two of the four victims were prostitutes and a third was last seen in an area of Kansas City frequented by prostitutes, police said. The identity of the latest victim was not known.

Once linked to 7 killings, man back in prison

Posted: Sunday, December 16, 2001

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- After being released to a halfway house late last month, a Kansas City man once suspected in the killings of seven women but convicted only of passing bad checks has been sent back to prison on alleged parole violations.
Gregory Breeden, 55, was taken to the Western Reception and Diagnostic Correctional Center in St. Joseph after his arrest Thursday.
He is accused of not properly seeking employment and violating house rules at the Kansas City Community Center halfway house, said Missouri Department of Corrections spokesman Tim Kniest. Kniest didn't give details of the rules violations.
Breeden served about two-thirds of a 10-year sentence for passing more than $1,500 in bad checks, before being released to the halfway house on Nov. 26. Finding permanent housing and work are conditions of Breeden's parole.
Breeden was investigated in the deaths of seven women, most of them known prostitutes, whose bodies were found in the Missouri River between 1982 and 1994. He has consistently professed his innocence to the grisly crimes where four of the victims had legs amputated at the hip.
Breeden was charged with only one murder, of Viola McCoy in 1994. But those charges were dropped in 1999 at the request of a special prosecutor who said a key witness would no longer cooperate.
The state parole board is expected to complete an investigation into Breeden's alleged violations by next week. The board will decide whether to release him again or make him serve the rest of his sentence, a decision Breeden could appeal.
Breeden couldn't be reached for comment Friday. He has filed suit in Jackson County challenging his supervision. The suit claims the state must grant unconditional release to anyone who has served two-thirds of his sentence.
Breeden has said media reports about the killings have ruined his life, and made finding work nearly impossible.
"I can't do anything anymore," Breeden said.

Ex-suspect in river deaths back in KC

 — Gregory Breeden, once considered a suspect in the deaths of women whose bodies were found in the Missouri River, is back in the Kansas City area after his release from a state prison.
His arrival Saturday at the Kansas City Community Release Center went unnoticed until after he was already there, giving local television interviews. Relatives of three of the dead women stood Saturday outside the building carrying signs protesting his release.
Breeden, 54, was sentenced in 1995 to 10 years in prison on bad check charges unrelated to the murders.
Most recently he had been at the Tipton Correctional Center. He was paroled with the stipulation that he try to find a job and spend nights at the Kansas City center for 120 days before he's free to be on his own. He'll remain under parole supervision until November 2004.
Breeden was investigated in the deaths of seven women, most of them known prostitutes, whose bodies were found in the river between 1982 and 1994. He has consistently professed his innocence.
He also expressed concern about his own fate, saying he didn't know how he could lead any kind of life or find a job amid the accusations and the protests over his release from prison.
Among those upset about Breeden's release was Kelly Lane, the niece of Melody Milliner, who was 24 when her mutilated body was found on the river bank near Lexington in 1986.
"I'm just a year older now than Melody was when she was murdered," Lane said.
Although police said they had linked Breeden to at least seven women's deaths, he was charged with only one murder, that of Viola McCoy in 1994. But those charges were dropped in 1999 at the request of a special prosecutor who said a key witness wouldn't cooperate.
Between 1982 and 1988, the bodies of 17 women and teen-age girls were found in the Missouri River. All but one had been linked to the notorious Independence Avenue area or prostitution.
Lane fought back tears, and when a reporter asked, "Is this the end of the Gregory Breeden story?" she and David Milliner, Melody's brother, answered together.
"This is only the beginning," Milliner said. "Only the beginning."

History of serial killers in the Kansas City area

  1. John E. Robinson Sr., killed at least eight women over fifteen years in Cass County, Missouri and Linn County, Kansas.
  2. Robert Berdella, died in prison after confessing to the torture and killing of six men in Kansas City between 1984 and 1987.
  3. Ray Shawn Jackson, convicted of raping and strangling six women between 1989 and 1990 in Kansas City. He was known as the Gillham Park Strangler.
  4. Gary Beach, shot five men in his Westport home in 1999.
  5. Ray and Faye Copeland, elderly couple who killed five drifters on their farm near Chillicothe, Missouri.
  6. Bodies of close to 20 prostitutes have been found in the Missouri River over the last 20 years, although police still do no know if the murders are the work a single serial killer or multiple murderers.

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