How An Escaped Victim Saved The Botched Investigation Of An Alleged Kansas City Serial Killer

In September 2022, respected Missouri bishop Tony Caldwell released a viral video in which he stated that seven black women from his community had been killed or were missing (via Revolt). He and numerous others had already told local police that black women in the local area were disappearing, but they were collectively dismissed (via Jezebel).

The publicity generated by the video led the Kansas City Police department to release a response on a local Fox channel, denying rumors that a serial killer was targeting local black women. However, just one month later on the 7th of October 2022, a 22-year-old black woman showed up knocking on doors around Excelsior Springs, near Kansas City.

She was dressed in latex, with a padlocked collar and duct tape around her neck (via The Guardian). The woman, (alias TJ in official documents), had suffered horrific violence at the hands of local man Timothy Haslett Jr., who had repeatedly raped her over the course of a month while she was imprisoned in his basement. After escaping she also told those she met that her friends "did not make it out".

Narrow escape

According to NBC News, after escaping TJ was taken in and given blankets and food by one of Haslett's neighbors. She also knocked on the door of local resident Lisa Johnson's house, who briefly spoke with her. Johnson called the police, although TJ asked her not to, for fear that her captor would try to kill her.

TJ was later questioned by police, and Haslett himself has since been arrested and charged with rape, assault, and kidnapping (via The Guardian). TJ told police she had been abducted and restrained with handcuffs in a room in Haslett's basement. She was repeatedly whipped and has sustained injuries to her back from the abuse (via The Kansas City Defender).

Although the police have reported that no bodies have yet been found, they are carrying out a full investigation with the help of FBI agents. Haslett has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him (via KSHB). Although hopes are high that the case of the missing women may soon be resolved, the revelation that police did not react to the reports of local residents has sparked outrage online.

An ongoing controversy

While the case is still being investigated, the incident is likely to add fuel to the fire of controversy surrounding police conduct in cases with black victims. Statistics show that, in the U.S., police are 50% more likely to solve the murder of a white victim than a black one (via CBS News). The Kansas City Police Department itself is also currently being investigated for alleged racism at this time (via The Guardian).

Speaking to a local newspaper, The Kansas City Defender, Bishop Caldwell has once again commented on local policing following Haslett's arrest. He stated: "That was the description of the guy we were talking about and that was the location we said they were being taken from." He went on to say that it was tragic the police did not act sooner. Local police had previously claimed that reports a serial killer may be at large were "unfounded" (via Jezebel).

The Kansas City Police department has also responded to media criticism, defending themselves against accusations of incompetence: "We do still maintain that there is no indication that what you guys reported was accurate and there was no indication that there was anything that supported that claim."