The arrest of a 22-year-old man suspected in five murders along Kansas City’s popular Indian Creek Trail came down to DNA pulled from a Brisk Iced Tea bottle and a cigarette butt.
On Tuesday, police and prosecutors announced the arrest of Frederick D. Scott, 22, in two of the killings and said he is also a suspect in the other three.
On video taken from a KCATA bus on Aug. 13, Scott was seen following Steven Gibbons, 57, who was shot in the back of the head and killed in the 1100 block of East 67th Street, Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said.
Scott was seen on the video drinking from the ice tea bottle, and the cap was found at the murder scene, Baker said. It was later matched up to DNA from the murder of John Palmer, 54, in August of 2016.
“DNA from a screw top bottle found at Gibbon’s homicide scene matched the DNA found on a shirt also at the Palmer homicide scene,” Baker said. “DNA from a cigarette that Scott was smoking was also matched from that bottle.”
Although Scott has not been charged with the three other murders along the trail, Baker said he is a suspect but there is not yet enough evidence to make the charges stick.
Asked for a motive in the murders, Baker said that was still under investigation but that Scott may have been mad about his brother’s death some time ago.
Baker, along with Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith, asked for the public’s help in gathering more evidence in the case and released pictures of Scott in several hair styles.
“I want to beg for the public’s help,” Baker said.
The murders have kept parts of south Kansas City on edge since one of the first killings in May of Mike Darby, a co-owner of Coach's Bar & Grill at 103rd St. and Wornall Road. Since then, there’s been speculation of a serial killer, especially after police said that there was “obvious similarities” among four killings of older white men along the Indian Creek and Blue River trails.
Until Tuesday, law enforcement hadn’t linked Gibbon’s death with the other killings.
Peggy Lowe is KCUR's investigations editor and is on Twitter @peggyllowe.