KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The family of Olivia Jansen says they knew the three-year-old was in danger but couldn’t get anyone to help.
Her father, Howard Jansen III, and his girlfriend, Jacqulyn Kirkpatrick, are now in the Wyandotte County Jail, charged with a slew of crimes including first-degree murder in connection with Olivia’s death.
The Jansen family believes Olivia could have been saved.
“We need to make it harder for people to hurt children,” said Olivia’s step-grandmother Elisabeth Jansen.
Known to Olivia as Mee-Maw, Elisabeth has been concerned for the child’s safety since the last time she saw her on March 6.
“I was concerned because I knew they did drugs heavily,” Elisabeth said. “I knew that she would be around the drugs. I knew there would be people looking for them because they owed money.”
Olivia’s father has a previous record of drug convictions, but does not face any current drug charges relating to her murder.
Another of Elisabeth’s concerns is what she called her step-son’s terrible temper.
She called KCK police on June 19 after seeing concerning posts on Kirkpatrick’s Facebook page, where she goes by the name Jackie Jansen.
“I said, ‘This woman is taking care of my grandchild,’ and I said, ‘She has put on Facebook that she wants to end her life,'” Elisabeth recalled telling the 911 dispatcher. “And I said, ‘I haven’t seen the child for months so I’m scared. I don’t know what to do.'”
KCK police records show that same day, officers responded to the home on Ottawa Street where Olivia lived with her dad and Kirkpatrick for a suicide investigation.
It was one of six calls to that house since the beginning of the year, including the day Olivia’s father reported her missing. Other calls were for things such as juvenile abuse and a welfare check.
“He said they knocked on the door and nobody answered, and that was all they could do, so I need to call DCF,” Elisabeth said of KCKPD’s response after going to the home.
An email confirming Jansen’s call to the Kansas Department for Children and Families on June 22 reads, “The incident or circumstance you reported was assigned for investigation.”
Seventeen days later, Olivia was found dead in a wooded area near South 34th Street and Steele Road in KCK.
“I knew when I got that call from him that he had done something,” Elisabeth said of the call from her stepson telling her Olivia was missing. “I knew that what I feared was true.”
Olivia’s father first told police the child was gone when he woke up Friday morning, but their investigation led to his and Kirkpatrick’s arrest shortly after Oliva’s body was discovered Friday evening.
Another child who slipped through the cracks, Elisabeth said.
“I needed someone to point me in the right direction, and I didn’t have any help,” she said. “I just want everybody to know her story, you know? I just don’t want her to be forgotten. She was amazing.”