Jaynie Crosdale, slain woman connected to Timothy Haslett case, was ‘full of energy and life'
Jaynie Crosdale’s family remembers her as charismatic and able to talk to anyone. Her death has brought up questions about how police handle cases of missing Black women.
Little Jaynie Crosdale was a spitfire. Although she came from a big family, when J-Bird walked into the room, everyone took notice.
Jaynie and Nikiyah, cousins who were the same age, attended Swinney/Volker Elementary School, where Jaynie was the fastest runner. Jaynie was the popular one, Nikiyah the quiet one, and they paired up as partner superheroes like Batman and Robin.
“She was just full of energy and life,” said Nikiyah Crosdale. “She could talk to anybody. She was very charismatic.”
Her family, who called her J-Bird, doesn’t want to talk about it, but at some point in her late teens or early 20s, Jaynie Crosdale’s life moved from the comfort of a big family to the streets. In late June, Jaynie’s remains were found in the Missouri River, about 90 miles east of Kansas City. She was 36 years old.
Authorities were looking for Jaynie Crosdale in connection with the criminal case against Timothy Haslett, Jr., 40, who faces nine felonies for allegedly beating, raping and holding a 22-year-old Black woman captive. The woman, identified as T.J. in police reports, escaped last October after being held for more than a month and told police that more women might have been victimized by Haslett. Haslett, who is white, has pleaded not guilty and is now being held under $3 million bond in the Clay County Detention Center.
"They don't wanna stir stuff up"
After Haslett’s arrest last October, a local bishop told the Kansas City Defender, a Black nonprofit online news outlet, that Kansas City Police had ignored reports of missing Black women from Prospect Ave., an area known for drugs and prostitution and where T.J., the woman who escaped, told police Haslett had initially picked her up.
KCPD said the bishop’s claims of a serial killer were “completely unfounded,” adding that they had no missing persons reports about women from Prospect. That triggered a large backlash, with Black leaders saying KCPD was not taking the issue of missing women seriously enough, a story that made national news.
The issue is much more complicated than what transpired in the press, said Kris Wade, executive director of The Justice Project KC — a small grassroots organization that does outreach to the houseless, women and others who need services. If a woman was missing from the street, no one would report it, she said, because there might be another explanation, like she was arrested on an outstanding warrant, or she’s sick, or she’s staying somewhere else for a while. And many people just don’t want attention from law enforcement.
“Sometimes people down there, they don't wanna ask questions. They don't wanna stir stuff up," she said. "They've got their own survival to think about. And, you know, it's a brutal world out there.”
Jaynie Crosdale was well-known on the street
Wade knew Jaynie Crosdale and said she was well-known on the street and by some law enforcement. Wade met her about 20 years ago while doing outreach one night along Independence Avenue, another area known for drugs and prostitution.
“Janie was a pistol. I mean, she was a pistol,” Wade said. “She was very independent and it was very difficult to offer her help of any kind. Some days we would have a very nice conversation, and other times it's like, ‘Get away from me. Don't bother me.’ I would say volatile personality, that fits the bill.”
Jaynie Crosdale had some mental health challenges and chronically used crack cocaine, Wade said, adding that they got her into a group home a couple times over the years and drug treatment once, but it didn’t stick.
“She wasn’t a bad girl. She was a sick girl,” Wade said.
There was no missing persons report filed on Jaynie Crosdale until January 12, the day after Excelsior Springs Police announced that she was a possible witness in the case and they released her photo, KCPD Sgt. Jake Becchina said.
“In this report a relative (not immediate family) responded to the East Patrol Division police station to pass along information that they had not seen her in an amount of time and they thought she could be missing,” Becchina wrote in an email. “All provided information was documented in a report and forwarded to Excelsior Springs PD/Clay County Prosecutors as part of their ongoing investigation/prosecution.”
Crosdale’s family believes that naming Jaynie as a possible witness — instead of a victim — placed her in a bad light and created a negative narrative. Some people have reached out to the family asking if Jaynie was in part responsible, which hurts, Nikiyah Crosdale said.
“It’s a slap in our face, as our family knows the kind of person (Jaynie) was,” Nikiyah Crosdale said. “She’d never jeopardize anyone else. The language could have been different.”
Black women missing at alarming rate
Jaynie Crosdale's story points to a larger, more urgent issue: missing Black women. More than 24 percent of missing persons in Jackson County are Black women, according to the Missouri State Patrol database. Nationally, a third of missing women are Black, even though they make up less than 15% of the population.
Since the uproar, KCPD Chief Stacey Graves has reinstated the Missing Persons Unit, which had been disbanded by former Chief Rick Smith. But social justice advocates told KCUR that there’s still a lot of distrust within the community — and that there’s a police culture of disrespect and discounting missing Black women.
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker also reacted to the issue. She announced in April that she would institute a “race-blind” charging system, so a suspect's race will be masked during the process of deciding whether to charge them, hoping to remove bias.
“Our community must have a basic trust in the criminal justice system. Without that, things fall apart,” Baker said. “Violence rises as fewer persons in the community come forward to help solve crimes. Violence then begets more violence.”
Wade said the situation could get better if people refrained from judging people they see on the streets — people who are just trying to survive despite the challenges of addiction, houselessness or mental illness. Jaynie Crosdale’s situation is typical of others, she said.
“A lot of folks end up out there in the streets through who knows what reasons. Some days if you were driving down Independence Avenue and you would see (Jaynie), you would think, ‘oh my God, she is a hot mess,’” Wade said. “And then other days she would look great, you know, and be personable and, and talking with us and whatnot…
“But people can't judge those folks out there because you don't know what's behind that.”
Wade said she last saw Jaynie Crosdale, in 2020 or 2021, hanging out near a convenience store at Prospect Ave. and 9th Street. There’s a stone wall that runs along the street and lots of people socialize there, Wade said.
"She looked like a little sprite out there,” Wade said.
Jaynie Crosdale was in Haslett’s house
When Clay County Prosecutor Zachary Thompson announced on July 31 that Jaynie Crosdale’s remains had been found, he also attempted to get a judge to increase Haslett's bail. But the judge refused, saying there were no new charges to connect Crosdale and Haslett.
Thompson argued that his office had evidence that Crosdale was in Haslett’s home — which was confirmed by Haslett’s attorney, public defender Tiffany Leuty Winningham.
“We’ve never said that Jaynie Crosdale wasn’t in Mr. Haslett’s home. They have video of her at his house,” Winningham told reporters outside the courtroom. “I think they had consensual sex.”
Crosdale’s remains were found in a blue barrel in the Missouri River on June 24, when two kayakers reported it to the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
Haslett is a potential suspect in her death, Excelsior Springs Police Chief Gregory Dull told The Kansas City Star, adding that he believes Haslett has “done more than what he’s already charged for. But being able to prove that is a totally different thing.”
Haslett’s next hearing is on October 9.
Wade said she’s heartbroken for Crosdale’s family
“She had a family who loves her, who loved her, her family cared about her,” Wade said. “I know that's not what they wanted for Jaynie.”
The family has not yet set a date for Jaynie's funeral. The time since her body was found has been surreal for her family, Nikiyah Crosdale said. They want the public to know she was loved.
“Even when she was in the streets, we never stopped loving her,” Nikiyah Crosdale said. “We prayed for her. We hoped some day she’d get off the streets.”
The Justice Project KC can be reached by texting 816-769-3307.
Crime Stoppers can be reached by calling 816-474-8477 or going to KCcrimestoppers.com.