By Steve Karnowski | Associated Press
It’s been three weeks since three Kansas City fans joined friends to watch the Chiefs play the Los Angeles Chargers in the final game of the regular season. Their bodies were found in a friend’s backyard two days later. Police still haven’t said how the men died, but affirmed Saturday amid intense public speculation that they still have no evidence of foul play.
It’s common for police to decline to comment much on an investigation before it’s complete. So here’s a look at what’s known and not known in a mystery that has taken on a life of its own on social media and the internet despite — or perhaps because of — the lack of solid information.
Police accounts say Ricky Johnson, 38; Clayton McGeeney, 36; and David Harrington, 37; went to the home of a friend in Kansas City, Missouri, to watch the Chiefs game Jan. 7. None of them made it home. Two nights later, McGeeney’s fiancé went to the home looking for him.
“When there was no answer at the door, she broke into the basement of the residence and located an unknown dead body on the back porch. Officers responded to the back porch and confirmed there was a dead body. Upon further investigation, officers located two other dead bodies in the backyard,” an initial police report on the incident said. “There were no obvious signs of foul play observed at or near the crime scene.”
Police say there are still no signs that any crime was committed.
“This still remains a death investigation and nothing more,” Officer Alayna Gonzalez, a spokeswoman for the Kansas City Police Department, said in an email Saturday to The Associated Press. “We still have no evidence or indication of foul play, no one is in police custody,”
Investigators say they don’t know yet. They have not said publicly whether they believe drugs or alcohol were involved in what might have been three relatively sudden and simultaneous deaths, though it’s clear that that’s a possibility they’re considering. Weather records indicate the low temperature that night was around 33 degrees (1 degree Celsius).
“This incident has been gathering a significant amount of media attention and we (KCPD) would like answers on the cause of death just as much as everyone else does,” Gonzalez wrote.
The department is still waiting on a ruling on the cause of death from Frontier Forensics, Gonzalez said. It’s a private company that proves autopsy services for numerous counties across Kansas and Missouri. Once police get the cause of death back, she said, they’ll be able to provide additional updates on the investigation.
“They are an entirely separate entity from the police department, so we have zero impact on the timeline of their medical findings,” Gonzalez wrote. “We have been notified it could be as much as an additional six or more weeks to receive the toxicology reports.”
One factor fueling the speculation has been that the homeowner says he didn’t know the bodies of his three longtime friends were on his back porch and in his backyard for the two days before they were found.
But Gonzalez affirmed that the homeowner has cooperated with the investigation, an assertion that his lawyer, John Picerno, also has been making.
Picerno didn’t immediately return a call from the AP on Saturday. He said in a statement to Kansas City media earlier this month that his client was devastated by the deaths of his friends and that he didn’t know that they were still in his backyard — or that they needed medical attention — until police showed up. Picerno said the last time that the homeowner saw them was when they left and he went to bed, and that he didn’t know how they died.
The attorney said his client was “anxiously awaiting the results of the autopsy and toxicology report,” and that they both wanted “to express our deepest sympathies to the friends and family members of these young men, and our thoughts and prayers are with them.”
Antioch fatal shooting victim identified
Woman with freezer full of body parts charged, victim ID’d as sex offender: police
Gunman who killed 6-year-old in road-rage shooting on California freeway found guilty
Unsolved 1974 California desert slaying linked to Idaho serial killer
Criminologist doubts cartels are responsible for slaying of 6 in California desert
Among the questions raging on social media are: “Why hasn’t the owner been named a suspect?” and “What’s taking so long to determine a cause of death?” The mystery has gone viral on TikTok and other social platforms for its true-crime overtones. And family members of the three men have taken their frustrations to Kansas City-area media.
“My son and these other men were wonderful people. They deserve justice,” Jennifer Marquez, Harrington’s mother, told WDAF-TV. “The story, the whole story needs to come out.”
But the statements from police indicate that it could still be weeks before they can provide definitive answers.