Fundraiser raises thousands for slain KC mom and local domestic violence organization

LEAWOOD, Kan. – The Leawood community came together Thursday for a fundraiser for the family of a Kansas City woman who was killed in January.

The happy hour benefit, held at The Gin Mill, was not only about raising money for 19-year-old Elizabeth Richards’ family. It was also about bringing awareness to domestic violence.

Richards’ aunt, Alena Wille, said her niece left her abusive boyfriend, Joseph Gonsalez, in November 2017; two months later, he would be charged in the shooting death of Richards.

Elizabeth Richards

“It really came out of nowhere, I think,” Wille said. “We didn’t know a lot about their situation. She kept a lot of that under wrap, so it was completely unexpected.”

The couple’s two-year-old son, Jay, has been living with Richards’ mom since she was killed, but she’s been struggling financially to take care of her grandson.

“We’re just trying to help her, ease the burden on her, so she can focus on healing from losing her daughter and also so that she can concentrate on little Jay,” Wille said.

The 3-hour fundraiser, which included a band, a raffle and silent and live auction, raised more than $5,500 for Richards’ mom.

“Anytime you say, ‘Hey we need help,’ people step up who you had no idea even existed,” said Nicole Feltz, who helped organize the event. “This community is amazing. They pull together, and they help.”

Twenty-five percent of the proceeds went to Hope Haven, a domestic abuse treatment facility in Harrisonville, Missouri. The organization has an emergency shelter and offers services to those affected by domestic violence. Half of the people they serve come from Jackson County, Missouri.

If you would like to help Richards’ family, click here.