Neighbor of Shawnee suspect says she’s convinced KC woman’s murder was hate crime

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SHAWNEE, Kan. -- For the last few weeks, a neighbor of a Shawnee murder suspect says her life has been an emotional wreck and she hasn’t been able to leave her home.

“It’s been a nightmare. I’ve never been through something like this in my life,” she said. The woman asked FOX4 to conceal her identity for her safety.

Her neighbor, Ronald Kidwell, now sits in the Johnson County jail. Kidwell has been charged with murdering 43-year-old Meshon Cooper. She left behind a 24-year-old son and a large loving family.

Meshon Cooper

”She was a beautiful, wonderful person that loved her family, thought the world of her son and her brother. I just cannot believe he’s not pleading guilty,” the neighbor said.

According to court records, on July 6, Cooper went to Kidwell’s house. During an exclusive interview Wednesday with FOX4, Kidwell’s neighbor said Meshon and Ronald recently met at a Dollar Tree store in Shawnee.

”She thought that Ron was going to be maybe someone she dated or wanted to date. He’s like, 'I like her. I’m gonna date her. She’s like my new boo,”' Kidwell’s neighbor said.

The woman said twice she saw Cooper at the Shawnee home where we’re told Kidwell temporarily stayed. The neighbor said she also invited Cooper into her home, and they talked about cooking and possibly going to a concert.

”She was sitting here in my living room with me. She said she was going to teach me how to make soul food. We talked for an hour. We had a great talk,” the neighbor said.

Ronald Kidwell

Days later, on July 14, police found Cooper dead.

According to court documents, Kidwell admitted to detectives that he and Cooper had a fight after she learned he's HIV positive. Kidwell said when Cooper pulled a knife out of her purse and hit him with it, he “flipped out,” stabbed her in her neck, killing her.

”No freaking way. I just don’t believe that. Me-Me was not like that, “ Kidwell’s neighbor said of Cooper's alleged actions.

Kidwell also told police he “wrapped (Cooper) up in trash bags and placed her in the trash can” in his garage.

His neighbor thinks she knows the motive.

”He hates black people. She’s black. That’s why he killed her," she said.

Moreover, the neighbor said before she learned about Cooper’s death, Kidwell called her and asked her for trash bags.

”He’s like, 'I need trash bags, big trash bags and a handsaw,'” the neighbor said.

With tears in her eyes, the woman now wishes she could turn back the clock.

”If I would have known he was going over there and do what he did, there’s no way in hell I would let her leave my house. I feel so sorry for her and her family. She didn’t deserve that. I want him to rot in hell,” the neighbor said.

Kidwell is scheduled to return to court on Thursday. The murder is being investigated as a possible hate crime. Cooper will be laid to rest Saturday.

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