KC prosecutors close case on 1970s slaying


Charges will not be filed in the decades-old slaying of a Kansas City civil rights leader in part because the main suspect in the case is dead, the Jackson County prosecutor said.

Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said she has closed the investigation into the death of Leon Jordan, a former Kansas City police officer who was gunned down in 1970. Jordan was also co-founder of the black political club Freedom Inc.

A Kansas City police investigation determined that the main suspect in Jordan's death was James Dearborn, former leader of a Kansas City group known as the "Black Mafia." Dearborn was indicted in the Jordan killing in the early 1970s but was never tried. Dearborn, who denied involvement, was murdered in 1985.

Baker said despite new evidence found by police, who reopened the case last year after a series of articles in The Kansas City Star, she would not bring charges because Dearborn and many witnesses are dead, The Kansas City Star reported Tuesday.

"It would be an impossible prosecution at this point in time, given where people are," she said.

The police investigation found that the Italian mafia and the Black Mafia both appeared to have played a role in the conspiracy that led to Jordan's slaying.

Jordan's politics, association with known criminals and apparent disregard over angering local mobsters may have been among the motives for the mob's involvement in his murder, the police investigation found.

Baker commended police for their work on the case.

"After 15 years as a prosecutor, I know a good murder case when I see one," she said. "And this was really an incredible investigation. They did a phenomenal job putting a 40-year-old murder case together."

Local civil rights activist Alvin Sykes successfully lobbied Police Chief Jim Corwin to reopen the Jordan investigation after stories on the 40th anniversary of his murder appeared in The Star last July.

"While we would have preferred to be able to hold the individuals criminally accountable for their actions," Sykes added, "we take comfort that with the Jordan case we have set the standard."