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Prosecutors have announced charges against a Kansas City man in the shooting deaths of two men.  He is a suspect in three other killings that occurred along or near the Indian Creek Trail, a hiking trail that runs for miles along south Kansas City.  Fredrick Demond Scott, 22, is jailed on two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of armed criminal action in the deaths of Steven Gibbons, 57, and John Palmer, 54. Prosecutors said DNA evidence connected him to the victims.

The slayings terrorized the community for months and left many residents that frequented the trails daily, feeling it was too dangerous.  Palmer was killed Aug. 19, 2016, in a wooded area near the Indian Creek trail and his body was dragged into a wooded area near the trails where it was later found.  The other victims are Mike Darby, 61, co-owner of the popular Coach’s Bar & Grill, who was found dead May 18 along Indian Creek Trail; David Lenox, 67, found killed Feb. 27 a few feet from his front door while walking one of his dogs; and Timothy S. Rice, 57, who was found dead April 4 inside a shelter at Minor Park.

In May 2017, the FBI began assisting with the investigation and the policed warned that the killings may be the work of a serial killer because they were all near the trails and the victims were middle-aged, white men.  All of the victims had been shot, four were shot in the head — three in the back of the head. One was shot in the back.  Three of the victims had been walking their dogs when they were killed though no details linking the crimes were released to the public.

Prosecutors said Gibbons was shot in the back of the head as he walked along a south Kansas City street.  Surveillance video showed Scott following Gibbons off a Kansas City bus and down a south Kansas City street on Aug. 13 while drinking from an iced tea bottle. He was later seen running from the scene of Gibbons’ shooting and getting back on the bus.

Gibbons brazen killing in broad day light is what ultimately lead to Scott’s arrest.  Detectives found the iced tea bottle discarded at the scene and traced it back to the nearby convenience store it was sold from.  After reviewing the store’s surveillance footage, they issued Scott’s picture as the suspect in Gibbon’s killing to area law enforcement.  A Kansas City police officer waiting at a stop-light recognized Scott while he sat on a stone wall smoking a cigarette adjacent to the intersection.

The officer called homicide detectives who followed Scott home and the officer picked up his discarded cigarette butt.  When DNA evidence from the cigarette and the iced tea matched, police arrested Scott at his home.  The DNA evidence also linked Scott to a discarded t-shirt left behind at John Palmer’s 2016 killing.   “They didn’t see it coming,” Scott said under his breath while being questioned by detectives.  Scott has admitted to the two killings he has been charged with though police have not established a motive.  Scott repeatedly said he was upset over the death of his brother who was killed in a robbery in 2015 but he did not indicate a motive for the trail slayings.

Scott graduated from Center Alternative School in 2015 at the age of 20.  His mother said she believes that her son suffers from paranoid schizophrenia though he has never been officially diagnosed and has refused to get help.  A municipal citation for harassment documented by the school in January 2014 revealed that Scott threatened to kill himself, shoot up a school and “kill all white people,” according to court records.

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