The Kansas City Star from Kansas City, Missouri on May 16, 1992 · 70
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The Kansas City Star from Kansas City, Missouri · 70

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Kansas City, Missouri
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Saturday, May 16, 1992
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70
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A-1 8 The Kansas City Star Saturday May 16 1992 Robin Fuldauer Indianapolis murder set killer’s pattern By PAULA BARR Slatl Writer D Robin Fuldauer’s death appears to be the first of a series of murders but it set a pattern the killer followed closely Fuldauer an Indianapolis woman worked at a small store in a small shopping center near an interstate in Indianapolis She was alone the afternoon of April 8 when the killer entered the store She died in the back room of the store shot in the head twice The gun used to kill her was the same 22-caliber weapon that killed five others in similar settings the next month At the time police said robbery was a motive although one woman from the area told reporters that the killer probably did not find much money in the store Fuldauer 26 was a manager at Payless Shoesource on Pendleton Pike about a half-mile west of Interstate 70 Her district manager had tried to call the store for 45 minutes that Wednesday afternoon in April and finally called the gas station next door Attendant LuCretia Gullett went to the shoe store saw the cash register open and called police Fuldauer was found dead about 2 pm She had been shot twice in the right side of the head according to news reports Indianapolis police had little to go on They hoped to find the person who bought two pairs of shoes one for a man and one for a woman According to the cash register tape Fuldauer made the sale — her last — at 1:15 pm Patricia Smith Patricia Magers Killer let witness go in Wichita murders By SCOTT CANON Mid-America Correspondent It was the start of the busy season at La’Bride d’Elegance and Sir Knight Tuxedo adjoining shops in a strip mall on Wichita’s busy Kellogg Street Proms were just around the comer June weddings were in the works It was a Saturday night April 1 1 about 6 pm quitting time A customer called about picking up a garment Could they stay open a little longer to accommodate him? Sure When the customer arrived he thinks it was between 6:15 and 6:25 pm he was not greeted by the pleasant smiles of store manager Trish Magers or bridal consultant Patricia Smith Instead the after-hours customer walked down an aisle in the dal shop until he was stopped is tracks by a man carrying t appeared to be an Uzi-type lutomatic weapon gunman was white short rim about 5 feet 6 inches tall i 150 pounds 33 to 40 years id He had reddish-blond hair and two to three days stubble of a reddish beard He wore black shoes and a waist-length jacket Police said the two men had a brief confrontational conversation The customer backpedaled to the front door and ran Scared and unsure of what he had happened upon he waited until 7:30 that night to call police When police arrived at the bridal shop they found the two women face down on the floor in a room in the rear of their store They had been shot one time each in the back of the head One woman was declared dead at the scene The other was declared dead at a hospital Some money was taken from the La’Bride cash register but police won’t say how much “She never worried about the money She wanted to make people happy She just loved helping people She got a lot of self-satisfaction out of that" — Mark Magers Investigators said the relatively small amount of cash to be found at such a business made the robbery look almost like an afterthought “There’s a lot about this that doesn’t make sense” said Wichita police Lt Ken Landwehr For instance why did the killer leave behind someone who could identify him by letting the customer bolt from the store? “It appears that he did not attempt to stop the witness in any violent way” Landwehr said “We can’t explain that” The whole thing is certainly inexplicable to Evelyn Trendel She can’t understand why anyone would want to hurt her 23-year-old daughter Patricia Smith “She never had a bad thing to say about anybody” the victim’s mother said Patricia Smith had worked at La’Bride for a little over a year while she attended Wichita State University in pursuit of a nursing degree She had been married for less than a year to a man she had been dating since she was 1 8 “She wanted to work with babies” her mother said “She loved babies and little animals" Patricia “Trish” Magers 32 had bought the tuxedo and bridal shops in February 1991 and put in an alarm system shortly afterward “She never worried about the money" Mark Magers her husband told The Wichita Eagle “She wanted to make people happy She just loved helping people She got a lot of self-satisfaction out of that" Working in strip mall By TOM MILLER Jefferson City Correspondent I Teams of police swarmed over Boot Village in St Charles Mo on May 3 after the body of manager Nancy Kitzmiller was found in the back room She’d been shot once in the back of the head with a 22-caliber pistol A card shop in Bogey Hills Plaza the strip shopping center where the Boot Village store is situated had been robbed only a few weeks earlier In that robbery two clerks were forced into the back room and sprayed with Mace Officers immediately tied the two crimes together seeking a single suspect for two robberies and murder “We found out quickly however that it was much bigger than that” said Sgt Pat Morici of the Major Case Squad “After the THE INTERSTATE MKUH! 6 workers in small stores are victims of gunman Michael McCown Gunman may have mistaken ceramics shopkeeper for woman By PAULA BARR Staff Writer Michael M McCown folded his lanky form into the tan Dodge Colt station wagon early April 27 and headed for his ceramics store in Terre Haute Ind He was off to meet a customer who was picking up an order His back hurt from the heavy work of making the ceramic goods he sold so McCown went to a chiropractor after meeting the client said his father Philip McCown McCown who was 40 had toured the country with several rock V roll bands and he never married although he came close a couple of times About six years ago McCown decided to settle down He started working at his parents’ store Nancy Kitzmiller Sylvia’s Ceramics The store named after his mother was a quarter-mile north of Interstate 70 “When he came back he worked for us” Philip McCown said “He was tired of being on the road And when we got tired of working he said he’d run it himself He did a fine job” After his doctor’s appointment shortly before noon McCown stopped by his parents’ house to pick up his house payment book His four-room house was nearly paid off He went back to the store A car rental shop and a grocery flank the shop but McCown’s father doesn’t think anyone heard store gave victim sense ballistics and other evidence it became clear we were dealing with a serial killer roaming across the Midwest” Officers now are certain the two St Charles events aren’t related Boot Village just off Interstate 70 in St Charles is a Western shop crammed with cowboy boots and rodeo posters Kitzmiller 24 had worked at the store about 18 months since graduating from Oklahoma State University with a bachelor’s degree in geography She played soccer in college and had organized a local soccer club in St Louis Kitzmiller was alone in the store when the robbery occurred and officers say she was killed between about I and 2:30 pm when a customer found her body in the storeroom The cash register had been emptied although it is thought only a small amount of money was taken Kitzmiller’s purse was left untouched “Nancy said no one would rob Boot Village because there’s never much money there” said Colette O’Neill manager of Hollrah’s Hallmark store which the shot that killed his son A woman who arrived in the store at 4:30 pm found McCown’s body He was probably killed an hour to 90 minutes earlier McCown wore his dark brown hair in a short ponytail and also wore an earring Police said the killer may have mistaken him for a woman But at 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighing 170 pounds McCown did not resemble a woman his father said “Michael lived music and was concerned about ecology” his father said “If someone had a gun he’d probably try to talk him out of using it but he’d never turn his back It appeared he was leaning over a shelf and was completely unaware “He was not a violent person or someone who would be mixed up with violence” of safety was robbed in March A witness may have seen the killer according to Morici A customer walking between stores saw a man go into the Boot Village and has been able to give a description to officers “Of all the places you wouldn’t figure something like this well this was it” said Jane Walling a clerk in a nearby store “Nancy and I used to talk about how it was nice to work in one of these small shopping centers away from the big malls and all “We thought it was safer maybe” Sarah Lynn Blessing Normal day turns fatal By PAULA BARR Staff Writer May 7 began as a typical Thursday for Sarah L Blessing of Kansas City She rose at 7:30 am fed her cat Eclipse and her dog Tammy then enjoyed a breakfast of fresh fruit Although she preferred to sleep late every Thursday she went to Karen Winney’s Mission home where she manipulated Winney’s feet in order to ease her friend’s pain or relieve tension That morning the two talked about people who had died heaven and spirituality Winney gave Blessing a tape about a woman who had talked her abductor out of killing her by reading the Bible Blessing had to open the Store of Many Colors at noon and she arrived home too late to eat lunch with her husband before she went to work “She got home about 1 1 :00 or 11:30 and packed herself a “SH was a threat to the darkness and evil out there” — Sonny Blessing lunch” Sonny Blessing recalled “It was probably some almonds a cucumber or sprouts Her whole life was nature and natural foods” The Store of Many Colors is an eclectic shop at the north end of a strip mall in Woodson Village Shopping Center in Raytown The store a joint venture by several women opened about a month ago It sells vitamins jewelry rocks American Indian goods and books and magazines dealing with topics such as yoga and herbs Blessing an herbalist sold encapsulated herbs clean-water machines and miniature trampolines designed for safe exercise Sonny Blessing said She also counseled people on nutrition At 2:12 pm before he left for work Sonny called Sarah “Everything seemed normal” he said That was the last time he spoke to her According to police and witnesses Blessing was alone in the store about 6: 1 5 pm when a man dressed in a gray sports coat slacks and dress shoes walked across the parking lot toward the store His actions drew attention because most people at the shopping center pull their cars up to the store fronts instead of walking a store owner said The man was “cool calm and collected” a witness said He smoothed his hair back in the wind and continued into Blessing’s store About 6:30 pm there was a loud pop that sounded like a gunshot said a witness who called police Police think the man forced Blessing into one of the two back rooms where he shot her in the back of the head He then left the store turned the corner of the building and walked northeast probably up a steep hill to Woodson Road Witnesses think they saw the man briskly walking north on Woodson and east on 59th Street about 10 minutes after? the shooting Sonny Blessing thinks Sarah’s beliefs led to her death “She believed in the natural way of life that we’ve gotten away from” he said “Her lifestyle was moving out of darkness and ignorance toward the light She was a threat to the darkness and evil out there” Strange similarities in murders led police to links in cases Continued from A-1 robbery homicide” said Wichita police (’apt George Scantlin “These kind of stores are hardly primary targets for armed robberies” There were plenty of dead-ends For instance Wichita police decided to contact Kansas City investigators Three people were shot to death in the back room ol Sir Knight Formal Wear at 1501 Grand Ave in 1986 The cases seemed similar But the facts (ftdn’t match Meanwhile homicide detective Lt Paul Dotson had begun to believe that the inexplicable nature of the crime might be its telling clue He thought murder itself might be the motive And he thought it might be happening elsewhere He put out a notice on a teletype system linking police departments across the country But so much comes out over the teletype investigators don’t always bother to read through it all So Dotson made some phone calls “We took! a map and started drawing larger and larger circles around Wichita" Scantlin said Finally that circle stretched to Indianapolis A Payless Shoesource clerk had been shot there on April 8 in much the same way as the women in Wichita “We got lucky” Scantlin said But for a moment the effort to come up with a link between the killings stalled Firearms experts from the two cities talked by telephone and concluded different weapons were used But by that time Indianapolis police had begun to notice similarities between the murder in their city and recent fatal rob beries elsewhere: April 27 Terre Haute Ind May 3 St Charles Mo “After the St Charles killing word started to get around between these different places that ‘yeah we have something like that too’ ’’ Pilgrim said Police finally had a pattern On May 7 the same day Sarah Blessing was killed in Raytown police in Indianapolis and St Charles Mo first spoke of their one-killer theory What they needed now was some hard evidence The killer had left shell casings at each murder scene and police in Indiana and Missouri decided to share and compare The casings matched Wichita was the only city that didn’t quite fit — unlike the other cities it was not on Interstate 70 And they were still thrown off track by the assumption that the weapons weren’t the same “They misconnected” Scantlin said about the earlier discussions regarding the casings “They didn’t realize they had a match” Some officers in Wichita still believed the killings were all linked And when they brought a shell casing to Raytown another match was made An officer from Wichita remained with the Metro Squad on Friday but officers from the other cities where the killings have occurred have returned home Pilgrim said As of Friday Pilgrim said police had followed more than 250 leads with no breakthroughs “But we’re not getting discouraged in this investigation” ’ilgrim said “We’re still waiting or that right information” Staff writer Matt Campbeh contributed to this report

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