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Kansas City Man Arrested In Killing Of Three-Year-Old Boy In His Car Seat in 2017

During a virtual press conference Wednesday, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker holds a picture of Marcus Haislip III, a three-year-old killed in 2017 while in his car seat. Baker announced a 28-year-old Kansas City man was charged in Marcus' death.

Derrick D. Wren Jr., 28, was charged Wednesday with shooting three-year-old Marcus Haislip III in May 2017. Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker urged people to find other ways to resolve conflicts than “to pick up a gun.”

Witness reports, shell casings and a Styrofoam cup were credited with leading to the arrest of a Kansas City man charged in the killing of a three-year-old boy who was shot in his car seat nearly four years ago.

During a virtual press conference more focused on the victim than the alleged shooter, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said three-year-old Marcus Haislip III loved Paw Patrol, Spiderman and Oreo cookies in chocolate milk. He wanted to be a football player when he grew up, she said.

“He was as innocent as they come,” Baker said.

The man accused of the murder is Derrick D. Wren, 28, who was already in federal custody on a gun charge. Now, he's charged with second-degree murder and unlawful use of a weapon.

Marcus was killed in May 2017 in the area of 54th Street and Brookline Ave. while buckled into his car seat. Two other people in the car were also injured, but they drove to Research Medical Center, where Marcus was pronounced dead.

At the time, witnesses told police they saw a man who looked like Wren, wearing a red hoodie, fire a weapon from a porch on Park Avenue where shell casings and a Styrfoam cup were later found by police.

Two years later the Missouri Highway Patrol notified Kansas City Police detectives that DNA from the Styrofoam cup matched Wren, according to a prosecutors’ press release. Then prosecutors said in the fall of 2020, new witnesses told police that Wren confessed to killing Marcus, using a 7.62 mm pistol with a 30-to-50-round clip.

Baker read a statement from Marcus’ mother, who didn’t want to be identified, describing her third child as “such a sweetheart.”

“There were times when I felt I wouldn’t see any progress, so for even making it here, I am grateful,” Baker said, reading from the mother’s statement. “The impact it has left on this family, it is still hard to cope.”

Marcus Haislip III, who was three when he was killed, wanted to grow up to be a football player.
Jackson County Prosecutor
Marcus Haislip III, who was three when he was killed, wanted to grow up to be a football player.

The community needs to remember all the young victims of gunfire, Baker said. In 2020, two other homicide victims were under the age of 10, and there were 20 victims ranging in age from 10-to-20, she said. There were 119 non-fatal shooting victims between ages 10-20, Baker added.

“The murder of a three year old tends to bring us stronger together in our efforts, our quest to get justice,” Baker said. “But we should also remember that there are many other young victims each year.”

Although law enforcement doesn't have a motive for the shooting, Baker pleaded for Kansas Citians to settle conflicts through other ways than violence, including conflict resolution and drug treatment.

“We’ve got to find another way than to pick up a gun and settle our disputes,” she said.

I’m a veteran investigative reporter who came up through newspapers and moved to public media. I want to give people a better understanding of the criminal justice system by focusing on its deeper issues, like institutional racism, the poverty-to-prison pipeline and police accountability. Today this beat is much different from how reporters worked it in the past. I’m telling stories about people who are building significant civil rights movements and redefining public safety. Email me at lowep@kcur.org.
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