Kansas City man charged in fatal shooting of 19-year-old ex-girlfriend

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A 23-year-old man faces multiple charges in the fatal shooting of his young son's 19-year-old mother, prosecutors say.

Joseph Gonsalez has been charged with first-degree murder, first-degree child endangerment, armed criminal action and attempted armed criminal action in connection with the death of Elizabeth Richards.

Elizabeth Richards

The 19-year-old woman was found around 11 a.m. Saturday inside a duplex near College Avenue and East Red Bridge Road. Richards had her wrists and arms bound in duct tape and had been shot, according to court documents.

Gonsalez's mother told police that Gonsalez and Richards shared custody of their 2-year-old son Jay, and Richards had come to the home to drop the boy off for visitation. Court documents say Gonsalez was the only person home when Richards and the 2-year-old arrived.

The 23-year-old's mother later noticed she had missed a call from her son, court documents say. When she called him back, she could hear Richards and Gonsalez arguing and then what she believed was a gunshot.

Joseph Gonsalez

When the woman and her husband returned to the home, they found Richards on the floor with the 2-year-old nearby. Police found a revolver in the home and spent rounds, according to court documents.

Investigators also found surveillance video of Joseph Gonsalez buying duct tape at a nearby Home Depot the day before the murder.

Richards later was pronounced dead. The fatal shooting was Kansas City's second homicide of 2018.

Kansas City police investigate the second homicide of the year near College and East Red Bridge Saturday, Jan., 6, 2018.

Several friends and family members have posted to social media to remember Richards.

Her cousin wrote that the 19-year-old had recently opened up about escaping a physically and emotionally abusive relationship and was "optimistic for the future."

She went on to say it's a shame her life was taken by the "person she finally escaped from," and that "Liz was so beautiful. One of a kind. Justice will be served for her.  And we will never forget her or any other lives lost to domestic violence."

Gonsalez is currently hospitalized. Prosecutors have requested a $250,000 cash bond.

Richard's brother, Matt Richards, has set up a Go Fund Me page to help cover funeral costs and to provide for her young son's needs.

Matt Richards also shared the following statement with FOX 4 late Tuesday afternoon:

"We are all completely devastated. She'd be the last person anyone could ever expect this to happen to, a beautiful soul that we had so many memories with. A mother that would and did do anything for her child, who made so many selfless sacrifices by just 19. No matter what rough patches she'd gone through, there was never a time where she wouldn't put a smile on her sweet baby Jay, even if she struggled to put on her own. A personality you could only understand if you'd known her. It still doesn't feel real to any of us yet. But this is life. It is very real, and now a two-year-old boy is without his mother. If there's anything we could get across to other families, it's that if you or a loved one is going through warning signs of domestic violence, please speak out before it might be too late, and know that you are not and will never be alone."

Some resources for domestic violence victims in the Kansas City area can be found here.

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