|Artist Drawing of I-70 Killer|
Suspect Still A Mystery In Raytown, MO Homicide
Thursday, May 7, 1992, was 37-year-old Sarah Blessing’s last day alive. She had no idea that before the sun set that evening, she would become the last known victim of a systematic murderer known as the I-70 serial killer.
The morning started out normal for Blessing when she awoke at 7:30 a.m., fed her pets, ate a breakfast of fresh fruit, and drove to ailing friend Karen Winney’s house for a weekly visit.
According to Winney, the two women discussed spirituality, heaven and people who had recently passed away. Blessing even gave Winney a tape about a woman who survived a terrifying kidnapping ordeal by reading to her abductor from the Bible.
Between 11:00 and 11:30 a.m., Blessing arrived home, packed herself a lunch and then headed to work at The Shop of Many Colors, a store owned and operated by Blessing and five friends in Raytown, Missouri’s Woodson Village Shopping Center, on the southern edge of Kansas City.
Only open for about a month, Sarah sold herbs, clean water machines, and miniature exercise trampolines at the eclectic store along with other merchandise focused on enhancing physical and spiritual well-being.
At approximately 2:12 p.m., Sarah’s husband, Sonny, called her, and they had a brief discussion. It was the last conversation he would ever have with his wife.
By 6:15 p.m., Sarah was in the store alone when a man wearing a gray sports coat, slacks, and dress shoes strolled across the large parking lot toward The Shop of Many Colors.
He stood out to witnesses because most people drove to the popular strip mall and parked their vehicles near the stores they frequented instead of strolling across the expansive parking lot on foot.
Roughly 15 minutes later, video store owner Tim Hickman, whose shop was next to Blessing’s, heard a loud pop that sounded like a gunshot. When he went to investigate the disturbing noise, he found Blessing in a back room of her store, dead from a gunshot wound to the head. She had not been sexually assaulted and only a small amount of cash was taken from the register.
Soon after, a grocery store worker gathering carts in the parking lot observed the same stranger as he turned the corner of the strip mall and headed northeast in the direction of a large hill that led to Woodson Road.
Witnesses also reported seeing the same suspect walking east down 59th Street approximately 10 minutes later. At that time, the stranger was about three miles south of I-70.
|The murder location in Raytown, MO as it appears today, operating as a hair salon. The hill leading to Woodson Road can be seen in the background.|
Law enforcement eventually linked this shocking crime to the I-70 serial killer through shell casings left behind at the scene. This cold-blooded assassin was also connected to the murders of Robin Fuldauer, 26, at a Payless shoe store in Indianapolis, IN; Patricia Magers, 32, and Patricia Smith, 23, at La Bridal shop in Wichita, KS; Michael McCown, 40, at Sylvia’s Ceramics in Terra Haute, IN., and Nancy Kitzmiller, 24, at Boot Village in St. Charles, MO.
The crimes all happened between April and May 1992, occurred in small shops with only one or two clerks on duty, and within a short distance of either Interstate I-70 or I-35.
The motive itself has never really been clear since none of the stores had large amounts of money, and there appeared to be no motive other than possible “thrill killing.”
The perpetrator left very little physical evidence behind and the hundreds of once promising leads have long since been exhausted. Twenty years later, all of the crimes remain unsolved.
Recently, law enforcement shared new evidence with the public in hopes of reviving the cases and jogging anyone’s memory of the terrible crimes. They believe, based on ballistic evidence and witness statements, that the murder weapon could possibly be an Intratec Scorpion or an Erma Werke Model ET 22. The ammunition used was CCI brand .22-caliber long rifle, copper clad lead bullets.
Police have also now shared that Corundum, an industrial abrasive, and rouge, used as an industrial polish, were found on the shell casings. These substances are often used on firearms, and it is possible that the killer was living or working at the time somewhere where grinding, buffing, or polishing of weapons occurred, possibly with a buffing or grinding wheel.
In 1992, the suspect was described by witnesses as a white male, in his mid 20s to mid 30s, approximately 5-foot 7-inches tall, and weighing between 140 to 160 pounds. He had a slender to medium build, with short light brown to auburn (reddish) hair, and beard stubble on his face.
After Blessing’s murder, the serial killer’s crime spree seemed to stop and he vanished into ambiguous infamy. By now, he would now probably be in his 50s. Why he has never been linked to any more crimes is unknown. He could be dead, in jail, or still in hiding after all this time.
Twenty years later, the Raytown homicide and all of the other linked cases remain open, and police are still waiting for any lead or clue that would finally solve these mysterious murders.