The leader of the investigative team that solved the 40-year-old murder of a prominent black political figure explained how police cracked the cold case in a presentation Wednesday hosted by the AdHoc Group Against Crime.
Sgt. Richard Sharp of KCPD's Cold Case Squad conducted a public presentation in the Lucile Bluford Library about how the Leon Jordan case was reopened and solved.
"There have been so many questions raised about this since it occurred in 1970," AdHoc President Alvin Brooks said. "'Whodunit? And for what reason?' Sgt. Sharp and his squad reinvestigated it, and they came up with the answers."
Jordan, the founder of Freedom, Inc., and a powerful member of the Missouri Legislature, was gunned down outside the Green Duck Tavern at 26th and Prospect on July 15, 1970. Two men initially were charged in the case, but those charges were dropped, and the case went cold.
At the urging of local civil rights leader Alvin Sykes, now-retired Chief James Corwin ordered the Cold Case Unit to reopen Jordan's case. They did so in August 2010.
"When we originally got the case, it was 2,146 pages. We added another 917 to those," Sharp said. "A lot of hard work, a lot of hours. We spent a lot time dissecting the old case then going clear across the country looking for people that were involved in the original homicide and talking to them."
Sharp said most cases get harder to solve over time, but the 40-year span actually helped his team.
"This case people are more apt to talk now and tell us their story," he said.
According to a release from Brooks, after untangling a web of politics and organized crime, Sharp and his detectives identified three suspects by December 2010. Those suspects were Robert "Bob" Willis, James L. "Monk" Johnson, and James "Doc" Dearborn, the then-leader of Kansas City's black mafia. All are now deceased.
In early 2011, the Jackson County prosecutor declared the strength of evidence in the new investigation showed the three men were those responsible and closed the case.
Brooks said the Wednesday event is a great chance for the public to learn more and ask questions about the case just four blocks from where it happened, but it provides another opportunity as well.
"It will be an interesting evening for those who want to know something about Kansas City's African-American history," he said.
Even though the case was deemed solved, there are still many people around town that have their doubts. That's why Brooks decided to host the presentation.
"I thought having this presentation and letting Sgt. Sharp present this would bring some closure to the minds of a lot of people who felt this is just a ploy or cover-up, but this is it," he said.
Investigators said Jordan may have been in the way of mob activity in Kansas City. Dearborn had mob ties and the two men were fighting over a woman.
Brooks knew Jordan personally, so he said having the case closed was a huge weight off his shoulders.
Click here to read previous coverage on this case.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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