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Disturbance, TIPS Hotline calls lead to arrest in death of Worlds of Fun worker

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Joseph Holliway

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Kansas City man has been arrested and suspected of killing James D. Barker in a hit-and-run crash on July 23 in the area of 210 Highway and Searcy Creek Parkway. Joseph Holliway, 54, has been charged with first-degree involuntary manslaughter, leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident and first-degree property damage. All charges are felonies and Holliway’s bond has been set at $75,000 according to a news release and probable cause statement.

A 911 caller stated that on the night of July 23 a white pick-up truck hauling a trailer jumped a median and struck a pedestrian. Officers didn’t initially find anything that night but on July 25 found a body in a ditch in the same area, the body was identified as Barker’s. The medical examiner stated the Barker’s injuries were consistent with being struck by a vehicle. Barker was said to be walking home from his job at Worlds of Fun. Police said that two calls came into the TIPS Hotline implicating Holliway as the driver.

On July 29, Kansas City police were dispatched to a domestic disturbance at Holliway’s home. Holliway’s wife said that they had been arguing about a hit-and-run crash that her husband, Joseph, allegedly committed. She said on the night of July 23, Holliway came home and said he had blacked out and struck a light pole at 210 Highway. They drove together back to the scene and upon arrival Mr. Holliway exclaimed: “Oh my God, I see something blue, I think I hit someone.”

While police were at the Holliway’s home they located a white Ford F-250 that had damage consistent with what was described in the crash. It was towed and processed due to a search warrant from Clay County Circuit Court.

Holliway’s wife also told police that she was leaving him because he was having an affair. They proceeded to contact Holliway’s new girlfriend who told them that he had a methamphetamine addiction. She said he would black out while coming down from the drug, sometimes while driving, causing her to shake him awake.

Holliway was arrested on July 31 at a hotel room and was interviewed by police. During the interview he stated that he had blacked out on the evening of July 23 and struck the light pole. He said he got out of the vehicle and moved the light pole out of the lane of travel and drove away because he didn’t want to get stuck with the bill (Pole damage was estimated between $2,500-$4,500).

He also told investigators he observed what he thought was a blue tarp and later thought it could have been a person but didn’t call an ambulance because he wasn’t sure. He then watched the news on July 25 about the crash, but didn’t call the police because he was scared. He also denied a meth addiction and use the day of the crash, but said he began to use again every day after he saw the news because he was upset.

Court records don’t list an attorney for Holliway or a court date.

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