Family reeling after son succumbs to injuries from beating, car dragging

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KANSAS CITY, Mo.  -- A family with roots in the metro is seeking answers. They say their 27-year-old son died after he was beaten and then dragged behind a car in Westport.

Derek Mael’s father, C.J. Mael, says it was a cold-blooded murder that took his son's life. Police reports show Derek and a friend were visiting a Westport night spot during the early hours of May 30th. As Derek and his passenger were parking their car, an argument broke out between the two and some passing bicyclists.

When it turned violent, C.J. says one of the bike riders knocked his son out with a punch, and in the fray, Derek was hit by a car which dragged him down Broadway. He suffered serious head injuries that eventually led to his death on June 4th.

“It's gonna take a long time for us to heal,” C.J. said.

Kansas City police say the man who punched Derek, and caused him to be hit by that car, remains at-large. Derek’s funeral was held on Thursday.

“They said, 'We ride around here all the time, and we are so sick of you drunks coming over here to Westport,'” C.J. said.

C.J. said Derek stayed behind after the rest of the family moved to Florida in 2013. He said his son worked for a hardware store in Shawnee and was not part of the party crowd.

Police lines remain on 42nd Street where the incident occurred. Brandon Phillips works as a cook in a Westport restaurant. He was leaving for work around 1:30 that night and stayed with Derek until the paramedics arrived.

“No one had called 911, so I called 911. I started following a trail of blood and I found this guy,” Phillips said.

C.J. says the two bike riders were "hippie-types." He says the man who hit his son had a long ponytail and as riding a mountain bike. If that description sounds familiar to you, please call the Kansas City Police Department.

Family members plan to gather for one final memorial Friday night at Saints Pub and Grill near Oak Park Mall.

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  • Ben

    WTH are the bikers doing riding around Westport at 1:30 in the morning? Sounds like they are a couple of thugs who were looking for trouble. Surely there aren’t too many hippies with long pony tails riding bikes. We could narrow them down and find the thug who killed this young man. He has a price to pay and it needs to be paid. The hippies friends know about this and one of them needs to call the tips hotline and do the right thing. Is there a police sketch that would help?

  • Ben

    I imagine there is a biker out there who quit riding his bike and is laying low. He is also worried about his buddy. Someday, they will have a fallout and someone will call the police. There has to be one nervous hippie with his ponytail twitching.

    • Cameron Mael

      First…thank you Ramona. Sorry everyone here if this reply sounds like it is Facebook…but to those that know me..that will make sense. Today is June 29…it was 30 days ago that Derek and his good buddy Scotty went to Westport ( a historic entertainment meca in Kansas City) to enjoy the life that youth brings. They both worked so hard…and actually had trouble finding free nights off work that they could even go do anything. Like virtually all of Derek’s friends. His entire network of friends…across the entire spectrum…are all outstanding people. It appeared as if Derek was quite close to about a dozen separate groups of people…and they all came from everywhere during all this to grieve with us. God bless them all. It helped explain to us why he never joined us in Florida…even though he hinted that he might be doing that soon. I had playfully been giving him a hard time about why the heck he did not move down there like we did and join back up with our fold. Little did we realize until all this how many people loved Derek. It was powerful to us to know so many loved him. I guess we (me, lol) were a little naive’ about it. Imagine…me…the know it…not knowing my son had a awesome life…lol ;) Again, thank you Ramona. Your replying showed a lot of character considering how testy we have been with each other. I appreciate you taking the time to notice our tragedy and say your kind words. Give our love to our family and acquaintances in Oklahoma and Texas. If not for Debra and Duke right now…quite frankly…I wish I was dead also. It’s an awful thing to wish you were dead. I am not sure I have even been close to feeling that way. No way. But with them, I still have as good of a reason as ever to live. Our family is strong,and while we will go on…I know for sure this is a hurt that is going to stick with us. I don’t expect to ever get over it. Considering how sentimental I am, and also considering I still hurt over events from 25 years ago and beyond….I already know that if I never got over some of those things….I certainly will not be getting over this. We have had many tell us we will heal…but when someone is taken from you the violent way Derek was….I don’t think so. But….heal or not…we will go on. The strength in our family often lies in our drive to make something good out of something bad. In Derek’s case, for example, his two kidneys are “already” in two different people that he has allowed to live on. Wow. I can hardly even type on without breaking down with that thought.
      This week has been a rough one for us. We got a letter yesterday from the Organ Transplant organization that placed Derek’s donated organs, etc…and it was very moving to read all that already has been done with his donations. We even had greeting from some of the recipients. I can’t begin to exp[lain how it made us feel. We broke down and cried so hard again upon reading the letter, but they were more like thankful tears…not like the ones over how he was hurt so badly. And also…a couple days ago we finally received his cremated ashes in the mail. If you can believe it…they got lost..and it did not look like they were going to be found. They suddenly “just showed up” by the mailman. We never received a single work of regret , thanks , or remorse from USPS over the grief this caused us thinking they were lost. I don’t think that will surprise anyone. What a sorry bunch all the postal workers seems to be now days. The most rude, unhappy, and mean acting people with good pay you will ever know. And that is coming from a family (ours) whose Father (Debbie’s) worked at his entire life. Imagine again, if you will, a family named “Mael”…getting such poor treatment over ”mail”, lol. As I said, it is our 30th Wedding Anniversary is on Monday. It is exactly 30 days from when Derek was attacked by these brutes. Our original plans for our 30th were to go to Key West. It is not a far drive from us now…about the same drive as it was from the Kansas City area to Oklahoma City where you and much of our family lives. Key West was special to Derek and Duke. They both one summer went to a Boy Scout special camp called ”Sea Base” there. I am sure it is one of their most favorite memories of their youth…and Boy Scout days. Derek and Duke are Eagle Scouts, by the way. Our family had discussed this for the last two years. Derek and Duke were going to play the Wedding March song with their Violas…in a private cheesy sunset on the beach” thing…as we renewed our vows. Then…out of the blue…and it was strange at the time….Derek (like he was so good at) threw us a surprise. Instead of coming ”now”…like the plans were all along…he decided he wanted to come for my birthday on March 22. We knew this would end the Key West plan, but we did not express one single degree of anger over him changing all the plans like that. We were ”always” ready to have Derek come visit ”anyway it could happen”!!!! We were so happy to see him when he came…it had been over a year since we had seen him last…the longest we had ever gone. So…that is what he did, and we saw him about a month before he passed away because of this change in plans. If he had waited till ”now” like originally planned…it would have been a painfully long time before we had last seen him. Here is a kicker to the story…”OR” (you decide) one of the numerous ”Gods’s mysterious plans” that have happened before, during, and after Derek’s passing away. We made a substitute for the plans we had to go to Key West. We are presently at a motel in Clearwater…right in the same town we live in, St Petersburg, Florida. It’s about 5 miles or so from our home. It is called Amber Tides. We are staying here because it is where we stayed with Derek and Duke the 1st night we arrived in our new city to live in. It was three July’s ago we stayed here. Since then. Amber Tides expanded just a little. It is a low cost but very cute, vintage motel…with very awesome tiny little swimming pools. We have a room with a front and back door…and a pool is about 5 feet from each door. Amber Tides bought the motel that was right next to it….the pool for it is the one out our back door. Know what it is called? The Key West.

  • william

    I am sorry for the families loss. At this point this “HIPPIE” with the pony tail by now has changed his appearance. Probably cut his hair short. I knew derek by playing online games, not personally. But the group of friends that we had played with, some of which who he had known personally keep him in their thoughts as well as mine. Sorry i am not good at this kinda thing.

  • maria and fred

    This is sooo sad we worked with him at the neighborhood walmart and he was a great guy with a good spirit. We also lived n the same apartments and anytime we needed anything him and Danny were there. We now live in a different state and got the news. I pray that whomever did this will be caught because Derek never bothered anyone. He will truly be missed and our prayers are with the family. God Bless

  • Cameron Mael

    This is CJ, Derek’s Dad. We welcome all comments, good or bad. We read them all. We are back home in Florida…just got home a short while ago….so if everyone wants to know what we been doing…it was a long grueling 1300 mile 3 day drive with a U-Haul Truck that had many problems…plus the pounding rain most of the trip. For those that don’t know, we flew up to Kansas on Southwest Airlines…but cancelled the airfare back. We decided to rent a U-Haul Truck and a U-Haul Car Transport…and brought all he had back to Florida with us. “We brought him home”, and we felt his presence in countless ways since he passed away. It’s hard to explain the powerful feelings we had that he was helping us somehow, and letting us know he is in a better place. For now, I am not real happy with ”God’s Plan”…that we hear he has for us. To be honest, I am angry about it. I can tell you, though, we are being made keenly aware of how he works in mysterious ways. It “helps” seeing that miracle play out..although only slightly at this time. I will share more on that later. That said…I can hardly believe dear little Derek is gone. It is only for his Mom, Debra…and his little brother, Duke that I even want to live on. If not for them, I truly wish I was gone along with him. We are hurting people, please pray for our strength. There is much to do. Some of the news reports have minor errors on the details, but as time goes one we will try to get more clear stuff out there…but we are also working with the detectives…and are trying to do things in a way they want us to. Slight errors or not, we appreciate the effort the reporters, etc are giving this. They have been awesome. I am praying they, along with the Detectives, will take a special interest in this. It seems they have so far. We are so upset it is hard to not be sensitive about a few things, but are trying adjust on a day to day basis. I so hope the police soon reveal more things to help catch the bicyclers. Such as a more accurate description. I want to mention at this point that my comment about the bicycle riders being ”hippies” was based on what I was told by Derek’s friend who was with him. It’s all been such a horrible whirlwind, I personally am not sure in much detail as to what these guys look like. I am worried the attention on this will start to fade with the police….and they feel since we live so far away…they may lower tier priority on this. Please God…let them all know Derek is worth their efforts. Derek truly was a special kind of young man. Not saying that because he is my son…it just seems obvious to any that knew him. The extraordinary attention he has received has been noticed by all who have touched this tragedy with us. Thanks to all of you and your decent and kind words.

    • DC

      Dear Mr. Mael,
      God is not in the event, but in the response to the event. My prayers and condolences to you and your family.
      Hoping and praying that the person/persons who did this are caught soon.

      • Cameron Mael

        I appreciate your support for my son Derek. We enjoy hearing from everybody here. Thank you.

  • Courtney

    I know I’m commenting on this a little late, but I just heard about Derek a few hours ago. I used to work with him at harbor freight tools & he was always so outgoing & most generally always in a good mood. It sounds weird, but he always reminded me of the way my own brother is. Anyway, I send my condolences to your family. Derek was a good man. I wish you all my best