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Le titre (Video project to feature KC’s unsolved murders, missing persons) en dit long.
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A new weekly video series focusing on Kansas City’s unsolved murders and missing persons cases launched Thursday in the hopes of reigniting tips to help police solve open cases.
The videos, featuring case detectives and family members, are being created through a partnership between the AdHoc Group Against Crime and the Kansas City Police Department’s violent crimes division.
Citing Kansas City’s homicide total of 157 killings so far this year, AdHoc Group Against Crime president Damon Daniel said the purpose of the project is to solve open crimes by humanizing the numbers and telling the victims’ stories, making sure people knew that someone cares.
“These are people we are talking about, meaning they meant something to somebody,” he said.
The video series called “Open for Justice” is part of AdHoc Group Against Crime’s continuing effort to raise awareness and provide a platform for these families, Daniel said during a news conference Thursday morning at police headquarters in downtown Kansas City.
“What all of these cases that we video have in common is that they’re unsolved and that they’re still waiting for justice,” Daniel said. “They’re still waiting for folks to provide additional information.”
The videos, which rely on information from both detectives and families of victims, will be posted on the AdHoc Center for Healing & Justice’s YouTube Channel. The group will also post previews of each episode on its Instagram, Facebook and TickTok accounts.
“We’re providing this platform on social media because a lot of times, especially young people, that is where they communicate, that’s where they’re getting their information from,” Daniel said.
The hope is to provide an avenue where people can provide information, as well as share the videos to keep the cases alive.
When Stacy Graves was named Kansas City’s police chief nearly a year ago, she said the department under her leadership would continue many of the crime-fighting strategies already in place, including working collaboratively with various community partners.
The new effort also represents AdHoc Group Against Crime’s attempt to evolve with the times. Historically, it has held vigils for the families and worked with the media to raise awareness and get the victims’ stories out.
“This is a way to try to get as much information out there about these unsolved homicides and missing persons as possible,” Daniel said. “And so using social media and things like that is the future.”
The videos will be shared with victim’s families so they too can share them on their social media accounts.
Daniel said he didn’t have any data, however, on the effectiveness of this kind of program. He did mention how some videos go viral online, at times as well as the fact that once something is out on the internet, it stays out there. His hope is that people will continue to repost and share the videos.
While police departments do use social media, Daniel said he was unaware of any agency collaborating with a community organization to bring detectives and family members together to talk about their cases and their loved ones, and then urging people to take action by sharing what they know so that justice can be served.
Similar efforts have been made in other cities, however, utilizing local media resources to produce videos about open cases, with varied success.
To measure the success of this program, AdHoc Group Against Crime will watch how many views and shares a video gets.
“Our biggest dream is for these cases to be solved and for families to get some closure,” Daniel said. “So that’s ultimate measure of success.”
The Hadley Project of Kansas City has provided a three-year general operating grant to the Adhoc Group Against Crime, and a portion of the funds will go to the project, Daniel said. The group will receive $100,000 a year from the grant and about $35,000 of it will be used to produce the videos.
One of the videos released Thursday highlighted the homicide case of 17-year-old Ricky Monroe, who was killed in a shooting in late June. His mother, Rodteshia Johnson, said having her son’s case featured means a lot to her.
Her son had just graduated high school and was going to be attending the University of Missouri — Kansas City. On Thursday, she shared the announcement he received before his death informing him he’d been selected for a scholarship.
While her family will never be okay with what happened, justice will give them some type of comfort to sleep at night, she said.
“I just want someone, anyone to speak up,” she said.
Sheila Ash, whose missing 28-year-old son Timothy Blake was featured in the second video, said she was waiting until after the news conference to watch it because she knew it would make her emotional.
The last time she heard from him was on May 3 when he was at a gas station. He was asking for money for gas, but she was unable to leave work. Blake had mentioned to Ash’s husband that he was scared and that he had gotten into an argument with someone and that he was concerned for his life.
“Then we just didn’t hear from him after that,” Ash said. “So we just don’t know. We don’t know what happened to him.”
Blake, a musician who struggled with addiction, loved his family and he was well loved. He just wouldn’t disappear or leave, even though he was struggling in life, she said.
“I know in my gut feeling that something’s happened,” Ash said. “I want to know what happened. Somebody knows something and we just don’t know what that something is.”
Families can contact the AdHoc Group Against Crime to see if their loved ones’ cases can be part of the video project
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