KC police seek motive, suspect in quadruple homicide

Sunday, November 19, 2006

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Investigators hunted Saturday for what they believed was a lone gunman in a quadruple homicide at a home near the city's midtown section.

More than 24 hours after the killings, police still had not suggested a motive or released the names of the two men and two women fatally shot just before 2 a.m. Friday.

But one of the victims, 39-year-old Tracy Pearson, was identified by her mother -- who owns the two-story home and lives in an apartment on the second floor. Suzanne Thurman said her daughter moved into a first-floor apartment about six months ago.

Thurman said she never heard gunfire early Friday, but was alerted by the banging of a front screen door against a mailbox. She followed the sound and found her daughter dead near a bedroom.

"She was in her pajamas," Thurman said. She said the other victims were friends of Pearson and appeared to have been watching a DVD before the gunman entered the apartment and started shooting.

A witness reported seeing a heavy-set man in a black jacket running away.

"I've heard they was after someone else," Thurman said of the killer. "Someone else said they were after all of them.

"It doesn't make any difference to me," she added. "The only thing that is important ... is that my child is dead, and why she's dead, I don't know."

Family friend James Hill said he thought Pearson was an innocent bystander.

Pearson, mother of a 19-year-old college student, had worked as a waitress and cook but recently became unemployed. She liked to cook for friends and invite them over to eat and play cards, friends said.

On Thursday night and early Friday, Pearson had hosted a gathering of friends at her first-floor apartment, said family friend Vernetta Smith.

Neighbors weren't aware of any disturbances or problems at the house, which is on a block that's normally peaceful.

"Everybody knows everybody at this end of the block," neighbor Odell Spears said.

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