Kansas City man guilty of murdering six women

The victims

Victims Lorenzo Gilyard was convicted Friday of killing. All of the locations are in Kansas City.

¢ Catherine M. Barry, 34, found in an abandoned building near 30th and Central streets, March 14, 1986.

¢ Naomi Kelly, 23, found in a city park at 10th and Harrison streets, Aug. 16, 1986.

¢ Ann Barnes, 36, found at 13th Street and Lydia Avenue on April 17, 1987.

¢ Kellie A. Ford, 20, found in Roanoke Park at 1300 W. Valentine Road, June 9, 1987.

¢ Shelia Ingold, 36, found in an abandoned van parked in the 3700 block of Troost Avenue, Nov. 3, 1987.

¢ Carmeline Hibbs, 30, found in a parking lot at 3560 Broadway, Dec. 19, 1987.

Gilyard was acquitted of killing a seventh woman, Angela Mayhew, 19, who was found in the 2600 block of Genessee Street, Sept. 12, 1987.

? A judge found a former trash company supervisor guilty Friday of six counts of murder in the deaths of women whose strangled bodies were found around the Kansas city area in 1986 and 1987.

Lorenzo Gilyard, 56, was acquitted of a seventh count of murder.

Sentencing is set for April 13, but the only possible sentence for Gilyard is life in prison. Prosecutors agreed in January not to seek the death penalty against him, as long as Gilyard’s attorneys agreed to a trial before a judge without a jury. His attorneys also agreed to give up nearly all of their client’s appeal rights.

In his ruling, Jackson County District Judge John O’Malley called the crimes “obscene insults to our sense of justice, security and freedom.”

Police linked Gilyard’s DNA to the deaths of a dozen women in April 2004 as crime lab workers tested evidence from old, unsolved cases using a federal grant. A 13th murder count was added last year. But six of the murder counts, including one stemming from the death of an Austrian national, were dropped as the trial got under way, although prosecutors could refile those charges later.

Much of the testimony during the trial dealt with DNA evidence. Prosecutors said Gilyard’s semen was found on six of the women, and his hair linked him to the seventh victim.

But the defense said that merely proved that Gilyard had sex with the women and not that he killed them.

Defense attorney Susan Elliott declined to comment after the verdict.

’21 long years’

Relatives and friends of the victims – many wearing name tags bearing photos of the dead and red ribbons – hugged and cried after the verdict.

“We never thought it would happen,” said Karl Belke, brother of Catherine Barry, during a news conference. “It’s been 21 long years and it’s finally over. I’m going fishing.”

Barry, the only one of the victims who was not a prostitute, was 34 when she was found strangled on March 14, 1986. A nylon stocking and beaded rosary were around her neck. She reportedly was mentally ill and often walked the streets and accepted rides from strangers so she could share her religious faith with them.

“I just want to get on top of a mountain somewhere and yell,” said Barry’s daughter, Dawn Knox, who was 16 when her mother died. “I feel like my mother has been vindicated.”

One acquittal

Gilyard was acquitted of killing Angela Mayhew, 19, whose body was found on Sept. 12, 1987. Hers was the only body that didn’t contain semen, but a hair of Gilyard’s was found on her sweater.

O’Malley said prosecutors had left him only with suspicions that Gilyard killed Mayhew, not convincing proof. Prosecutors said they had been unable to contact Mayhew’s relatives since Gilyard was linked with her death.

Jackson County Prosecutor Jim Kanatzar said he was disappointed with the verdict in the Mayhew case but accepted and respected O’Malley’s ruling.

“The verdict today has brought closure and justice to victims who left us long ago but were never forgotten,” Kanatzar said.

‘Trophy day’

Kanatzar also praised members of the police cold case squad and crime lab workers – one of whom was a neighbor of Gilyard’s. Though Gilyard had a long history of scrapes with law and had served time for crimes including child molestation, he was largely off the police radar at the time of his arrest.

The crime lab linked him to the killings using a blood sample taken from him in 1987, when he was a suspect in the death of one of the women he later was charged with killing.

“This is the trophy day, this is the day when the family members can stand up and hold the trophy and say, ‘We put a heinous criminal behind bars for the rest of his life,'” said Sgt. John Jackson, of the cold case squad.

Kanatzar said the prosecutors office would begin work Monday to review the six murder cases that weren’t part of the first trial and decide how to proceed.

Bill Kizine, the brother of one of those six victims, Gwendolyn Kizine, said he hoped prosecutors would pursue the untried cases. Kizine said his younger sister was 15 when she was found dead on Jan. 23, 1980, behind a building. She had been reported missing one day earlier.

He said the trial had given him “some closure,” but questions remained.

“My family, my immediate family, my extended family, we suffered a great deal because of my sister dying, and we just couldn’t understand after it was reported what happened to her why, and that’s what I want to hear,” Kizine said. “But she was wonderful. My sister went through her troubled teens. But I just feel that there were opportunities for change, for her maturing.”