Why Haven’t Kansas City, Kansas, Police Done More About A Long List Of Slain Black Women?
Rose Calvin’s family has wondered about her murder for 24 years – and they have questions about the role of a former Kansas City, Kansas, Police detective in her death. So do social justice advocates.
The last time Deidre Dodds saw her Auntie Rose was the day before her body was found.
On July 20, 1996, Dodds was driving up 10th Street near Walker Avenue, in the heart of Kansas City, Kansas, when she saw Rose Calvin talking to a man in a semi-truck.
“I called her name, and she just kinda like brushed me off. Told me to go on,” Dodds recalled. “Never forget it. I will never forget it.”
The next day when Dodds and the rest of the large Calvin family got the call from the Kansas City, Kansas, Police that her body had been found, the news was devastating but not that surprising. At 39 years old, Rose Calvin had fallen into drugs and prostitution, often disappearing for days from her family’s home.
What was shocking was the way they were notified by police.
Detective Roger Golubski wouldn’t allow the family to see Calvin’s body — not in the empty lot where she was found, strangled, nor even in the morgue. And he told them a bizarre story about her body that to this day, almost 25 years later, makes them wonder if he was lying.
Calvin is among several Black women in Kansas City, Kansas, whose murders have remained unsolved for years. The FBI has even stepped in, and this week offered a reward of $50,000 for information in a 1998 homicide.
Because Golubski was named in another recent high-profile case, many of the cases that he was connected to during the 1990s are once again being looked at and publicized.
On Thursday, a social justice group will call for an independent task force to investigate the large number of cases of mostly Black women in Kansas City, Kansas, whose deaths have never been solved.
“We need someone from the outside,” said Khadijah Hardaway, lead organizer of Justice for Wyandotte. “People have to pay attention.”
Kind, out-spoken and neat as a pin
Rose Calvin has a large family who still live in Kansas City, Kansas. Rose Calvin’s mother, Mamie Calvin, 93, and her late husband came up from Arkansas and settled here more than 60 years ago, and raised their 10 children in this tiny house where Mamie Calvin still lives.
First came the daughters, and Rose Calvin was the seventh and youngest of the girls, followed by three boys. More than two decades after her death, her siblings remember her as kind-hearted. They recall little things, like the way she and her sister Oradean would go to elementary school early to play tether ball on the school grounds.
She loved to dress in whatever was in fashion at the time, her sister Mamie Wright said. They couldn’t recall if she finished high school but she appears in the Wyandotte County High School yearbook through 1973. By the next year, when the junior class was selling T-shirts that said “Keep on Truckin’,” she was gone.
The youngest Calvin, Eric, remembered that his older sisters used to have parties at their house. Diana Ross records and other female singing groups were favorites, Oradean Walton said.
Rose Calvin wasn’t one to mince words, Eric Calvin said.
“She was good at heart,” he said, “but she didn’t bite her tongue for anything.”
When she was around 30 years old, she had a daughter, and the young woman, now in her early 30s, still lives in the Kansas City area and is raising three daughters.
Rose Calvin’s apartment and her car were neat as a pin — you could barely put your glass of iced tea down on the table before she grabbed it and washed it, said her niece, Deidre Dodds, now 53. She remembered her Auntie Rose as funny, playing pranks on her, and teaching her how to French braid her hair.
No one really knows why she turned to drugs.
“I think Rose got out there with the wrong crowd,” said her sister, Gloria Calvin. “Her boyfriend and stuff. The wrong people. She started using.”
’Golubski was messin’ with her’
The family vividly remembers the presence of Roger Golubski, then a Kansas City, Kansas, Police detective, in Calvin’s life. They’d see her in his police car, waiting outside their family home for her, picking her up, dropping her off.
“I think Golubski was messin’ with her, because she was on the streets,” said Eric Calvin, Rose’s brother. “She was on drugs and that’s what he preyed on was people that was on drugs. She was always in the car.”
Golubski’s name first surfaced in the 2017 exoneration of Lamonte McIntyre, a Kansas City, Kansas, man who was framed for a double murder and spent 23 years in prison. Serious allegations of wrongdoing were made against Golubski in the McIntyre case, and since then, KCUR and the Star have found other connections between Golubski and vulnerable Black women.
Golubski, 68, who retired as a captain from the KCK police force in 2010, could not be reached for comment. His lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.
In a legal filing in response to the McIntyre lawsuit, Golubski denied the allegations against him.
In a recent deposition in the McIntyre case, Golubski was accused of repeatedly raping a woman whose children he’d promised to help get out of legal trouble. Golubski asserted his Fifth Amendment right protecting him against self-incrimination 555 times.
Eric Calvin remembers how Rose Calvin would talk about Golubski at home, mostly about how she hated him.
“How dirty a cop he was, that he was a ‘lousy MF,’” Eric Calvin said. “That was her favorite words about him.”
But even as she hated him, she needed what he had.
“I think Golubski was supplying drugs for her,” Eric Calvin said. “So it really wasn’t her. It was the drugs. Crack cocaine.”
The family also remembers the bizarre story Golubski told them after Rose Calvin’s murder, when her body was found in July 1996.
“When she was found, Golubski told my mother that she had already been identified and they didn’t have to identify her,” Eric Calvin said. “He said that her body was badly decomposed and that she had been strangled and stabbed multiple times and something was stuck up her vagina.”
In fact, the autopsy shows that Calvin was killed by asphyxia through strangulation, it doesn’t mention stab wounds, nor does it mention any sexual assault with a foreign object. While there had been some decomposition, the autopsy notes that her niece, Deidre Dodds, had seen Rose Calvin 24 hours before her death.
Rose Calvin was found in an empty lot at 1021 Walker, behind a squat building that was once a fish market. She was dumped in a corner with lots of overgrowth and garbage.
Dodds, who tried to sneak around the police line that day to see her aunt, remembers her as face up, her red dress pulled up above her waist. She wasn’t wearing underwear, according to Dodds. But the autopsy reports that Rose Calvin was wearing turquoise panties, a black bra pulled above her breasts and Nike sneakers.
Golubski doesn’t appear to be officially connected to Rose Calvin’s case. The Kansas City, Kansas, police officers noted on the autopsy are Detective W.K. Smith and Officer Ray Thebo.
“This is a homicide,” said the ruling signed by Dr. Erik K. Mitchell, who is still a pathologist in Wyandotte County.
Dr. Lawrence Kobilinsky, a professor emeritus of forensic science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, reviewed the autopsy for KCUR and The Star and said Rose Calvin’s death was definitely a strangulation.
While the way her clothing was arranged shows “sexual intent,” Kobilinsky said, there was no indication of rape because the autopsy reports that her genitals were “without bruise, laceration or abrasion.”
“I don’t see any physical evidence of trauma to the genitalia or anything like that,” Kobilinsky said. “I don’t see any indication that she was raped.”
Eric Calvin and other family members think Golubski was somehow connected to Rose Calvin’s death. The family believes he knows who did it because he spent so much time with her and because of his reputation, including hitting on another of Rose’s sisters.
“I think it was getting down to the points that they was going to tell,” Eric Calvin said. “Too many people was talking about him in the streets.”
The family was never informed of any investigation or updates on the case. Mamie Wright and Gloria Calvin, Rose Calvin’s sisters, both worked for city government and would run into Golubski over the years because they all bought gas at the same filling station.
“We would ask him about Rose and he would just, he would just look funny, you know?” Wright said. “We would ask him had he heard anything? No.”
The Calvin family still believes Golubski lied to them to cover up his connection to Rose Calvin
“I believe Golubski knows,” said Oradean Walton, Rose’s oldest sister. “If he didn’t do it, he knows something about it.”
The many murdered women
On Thursday, Justice for Wyandotte will highlight several of the many homicides of Black women, some of which were particularly brutal.
The Star and KCUR have independently examined some unsolved homicides, including that of Vicki Hollinshed-Dew, who was found in June 2000 outside what an autopsy report described as a residence known to law enforcement as a drug house in the 3000 block of Brown Avenue.
A medical examiner found 50 stab wounds, cuts, incisions and abrasions on Hollinshed-Dew’s body. The medical examiner observed her left carotid artery, right lung and liver had been stabbed.
The autopsy report shows stab wounds to her face, neck, arm and torso.
According to published reports at the time, as well as the medical examiner’s report, witnesses heard at least a portion of the attack on Hollinshed-Dew. An article in The Star said police and neighbors heard someone shout “stop!” during the early morning hours of the day Hollinshed-Dew was slain.
Who those witnesses were and which police officers and detectives were assigned to investigate Hollinshed-Dew’s murder remain a closed record. Only Hollinshed-Dew’s autopsy report was released to The Star in response to a Kansas Open Records Act request.
The police report and other records related to Hollinshed-Dew’s case, as well as several other women’s murders that The Star sought records of, remained off limits from public view. The Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department said they were the subjects of ongoing investigations.
The Star and KCUR requested an interview with the KCKPD to ask what measures its officers and detectives have taken to investigate the murders of Calvin, Hollinshed-Dew and other slain Black women in Kansas City, Kansas, that the news organizations are investigating themselves, and what conclusions, leads and suspects their investigation may have identified.
A spokeswoman did not make anyone available to discuss those cases, saying by email that there’s no statute of limitations in Kansas on homicide cases and that they remain ongoing investigations.
At least one of those murders has the FBI’s attention. That’s the case of Rhonda Tribue, a 33-year-old mother of six whose body was found Oct. 8, 1998.
Known also by her maiden name, Rhonda Easley, Tribue was found in the roadway around the 500 block of South 94th Street, which forms the Kansas City, Kansas-Edwardsville municipal border.
Tribune had been seen earlier that day at the Firelight Lounge at 18th Street and Parallel Parkway. Her cause of death was from blunt force trauma severe enough to cause a fracture to her skull. There were indications that her body may have been dragged.
The FBI, which has not commented on why it has taken a renewed interest in Tribue’s death, put out a call to the public in early March for leads on who was responsible for Tribue’s murder. Again this week, the FBI renewed that call and added an offer of $50,000 for any information that might lead to the prosecution and conviction of the person or people who murdered Tribue.
Rose Calvin’s grave, and the past
Rose Calvin was buried at the Brookings Cemetery in Raytown. The only record of that is with the funeral home, the Mrs. J.W. Jones Memorial Chapel in Kansas City, Kansas, which did a Baptist service for her on July 27, 1996.
The only way to find her grave is to check at the cemetery’s office, which directs visitors to 2423W4, a tiny slice of land in between two headstones, but missing one of her own.
While the police won’t talk about the unsolved cases publicly, others are working to bring them to light. Hardaway, of Justice for Wyandotte, is working with Nikki Richardson, creator of “The 7th St. Podcast,” which explores the Kansas City, Kansas, cases. Both women don’t buy the statements from police that say they don’t have to answer for long-gone cases.
“So much time has passed that they can easily say, ‘Oh, those were problems of the past,’” Richardson said.
“How do we know that? How do we know that if you’re not even willing to look, if you’re not even willing to ask those questions, how can the community even trust that?” she said. “And that creates a problem of itself. They could very well have fixed the issue, but if the community doesn’t know, what justice does it give anyone? What service does it provide anyone?”
This story was made possible by an investigative reporting collaboration between KCUR 89.3, the NPR member station in Kansas City, and The Kansas City Star.
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