Independence Police release surveillance video in missing woman case; looking for another woman involved in case

Published: Sep. 20, 2023 at 10:44 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 21, 2023 at 8:44 AM CDT
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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (KCTV) - As the Independence Police Department continues its search for missing 44-year-old woman Ebony Duncan, surveillance video was released Wednesday of the last time she was seen.

Surveillance video from outside Sunterra Springs, a nursing home that Duncan worked at, shows a 2015 Chrysler 200 that has been seen in previous photos leaving the parking lot and then parking across the street near an AMC theatre. Along with Duncan, Independence Police said they are looking for another individual related to the case.

Missing 41-year-old Keaira Ransburg is the owner of the Chrysler 200 that picked up Duncan. Ransburg has not been located since the incident was reported on Sept. 7, 2023.

“Investigators would like to speak with her about the case and verify her wellbeing,” Independence Police said Wednesday.

Amber Williams works with Ebony Duncan at Sunterra Springs and said she spoke to her right before she left the nursing home.

“I actually had a conversation with her at 5:30 that afternoon before she had disappeared,” Williams said. “She was excited, and kind of nervous for her new grandbaby to come into the world. She was waiting to find out If her daughter was going to have her baby that day.”

Williams said when Duncan didn’t show up for work on Sept. 7, she knew something was wrong.

“I tried to call her, and she didn’t answer,” Williams said. “So, I thought she was maybe at the hospital because maybe her grandbaby had been born and she didn’t have her phone.”

But then Williams said one of Duncan’s daughters called their work and said the family was looking for her.

“I ran over to her house, knocked on the door, and no one answered,” Williams said. “So, I came back here and that’s when the police showed up.”

Williams said they are like family and the situation has been incredibly difficult.

“She is a very caring, loving person, and she is compassionate about what she does,” Williams said. “She comes into work every day, tries to help out where she can. She is a fighter, so I know if there’s a way, she will come home.”

License plates were no longer on the Chrysler and were found days later when Charles Smith-Howell was taken into custody. Court documents said Smith-Howell was the ex-boyfriend of Ebony Duncan and the current boyfriend of Keaira Ransburg.

According to court documents, Duncan’s daughter contacted Smith-Howell on Facebook and asked if he had any information about her mother. She told law enforcement that Smith-Howell said, “I saw your mother last night” and “I’m sorry if something bad happened to her.”

Investigators were able to obtain cell phone data for Duncan’s phone, which court documents said received GPS location data until Friday, Sept. 14. Duncan’s phone was eventually found in the possession of an unrelated homeless person who said she picked it up on a bridge. She was unable to remember the location of the bridge.

The phone data did track Duncan to the same area a License Plate Reading camera system associated with the Chrysler 200. It also showed her phone was connecting to towers in the area of 3407 Mersington Avenue -- where Smith-Howell and Ransburg lived -- after she was picked up in the Chrysler.

READ MORE: Independence Police looking for woman missing for multiple days

The current location of the Chrysler is unknown, according to law enforcement.

On Sept. 14, investigators took into custody Smith-Howell in the area of Thompson Avenue and Drury Avenue in Kansas City, Missouri, after court documents said he “started driving erratically by driving at high rates of speed and driving on the wrong side of the roadway.”

Court documents said a search warrant was executed on Saturday, Sept. 15, just after midnight. Inside the black Buick Encore Smith-Howell had been driving investigators found a wallet with a Missouri driver’s license registered to him and a black bag that contained a Missouri title for the 2015 Chrysler 200 registered to Ransburg.

They also found a license plate with Missouri license JH6-C2W, the same plate that responds to the silver Chrysler that Duncan was last seen in. A gun loaded with twelve rounds of 9mm ammunition was also located in the vehicle, court documents said.

Smith-Howell was taken into custody and charged as a felon in possession of gun ammunition. He previously was convicted in January 2003, November 2003, May 2004 and August 2005 of offenses that carried prison sentences of more than a year.

IPD said they ask anyone who may know where the vehicle, Ransburg or Duncan are located to contact the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS.