By early May, St. Charles police, Wichita police, Indianapolis and Terre Haute police– police from 3 states– knew they had a homicidal maniac going back and forth on the I-70. This creep liked to kill women, relatively young, with long brunette hair. He used a high capacity .22 caliber pistol. He rubbed the cartridges with jeweler’s rouge to make sure the bullets didn’t jam. The guy was calm and cool obviously. How did he stalk these places and remain essentially nondescript?
There was one report– a store owner in Indianapolis had noted there was some homeless guy wandering around the area of the crime scene, sometimes hours before. He would be mumbling to himself, like so many of that hapless variety. However, it was hard to believe that some killer with a highly polished .22 automatic pistol and the ability to drive long distances was some druggie idly stumbling about businesses.
It was May 7, 1992. A man in his 30s, average height, average build, everything average, was mumbling to himself as he ambled about the Woodson Village shopping center in Raytown, Missouri, a small town on the outskirts of Kansas City, Missouri, near the Kansas border.
Mumbling to himself, this figure peered into the window of the Video Attic– the clerk thought this was just another bum.
Next store, in the Store of Many Colors, Sarah Blessing continued her work. It was late now, close to 6:30 p.m. We don’t know the before-the-fact details much. But the clerk next door heard a “pop.” It wasn’t long until Sarah was found dead– a bullet to the back of the head. The cash was missing from the cash register.
Later, a witness reported seeing a man walking up the incline to the main road behind the complex.
Woodson Village isn’t a large shopping center. It is a bit sunken, set in the sides of sloping hillocks, over which was paved the main roads. It isn’t close to I-70 really. But the main road behind it goes there.
The murderer was the I-70 Killer, of course. He obviously had continued west from St. Charles Missouri. Was he going to hit Kansas again next?
The truth of it is, as time would prove, he wouldn’t strike again. Not along the I-70 anyway. It would be over a year before similar killings would recommence. But they would do so along the I-35, the highway that leads from Kansas (through Wichita) and down into Texas. The gun would also be a .22 caliber, but of a different model.
From the main road looking down the slope to the back of the store in Woodson Village.
The I-70 Killer had engaged in a month long killing spree and, as time has also proved, got away clean with it. He didn’t molest, torture, even fear-torture, his victims. He just shot them in the head and took minimal cash from the register. He hit small stores at off hours. He was, really, just interested in killing the clerk; perhaps also in the thrill of the hunt before-the-fact.
Woodson Village is marked with the yellow star. The killer seemed to know the area. It is relatively far from all highways, though at the intersection of main roads which lead to them. This is the furthest from a highway that he struck.
The I-70 Killer struck furthest from the highway in Raytown and Wichita. His strike points in St. Charles, Terre Haute, and Indianapolis were right off the highway or just a couple of blocks away. There were auto businesses at all locations except Raytown and St. Charles. The general pattern of his strike points induce in us the theory that he was based closer to these points, and indeed these points are closer to the I-35. From this area, a killer enlarging upon his MO could do so by heading south along the I-35.
The strike points of the I-35 Killer. The highway leads down from Raytown and through Wichita, through Oklahoma, and then into Texas, through the first major city of Fort Worth, where the I-35 Killer would strike first.
Before we attempt to connect those Texas murders to these I-70 murders, it is best to consider a few clues. One is the jeweler’s rouge. This was a cool, careful man with a knowledge of guns. He didn’t want one jamming on him. Two, the mumbler. The killer did some scoping before-the-act obviously. Did he use the disguise of being some transient druggie? No one would suspect such a person as the killer. Three, after the shot in Raytown that killed Blessing, the clerk next door looked out the window and saw a man walk away. He was calm and cool. Was this the mumbler, no longer needing his disguise?
Such a cool killer as this, stalker and premeditator of murder, is smart enough to shift model of weapons if he intends to start a crime spree elsewhere. And we must bear this in mind as we descend into Texas next on the trail of a similar killer.
* * *
Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester or Q Man. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.