KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Nearly a year later, the Kansas City, Kansas community wants to make sure 3-year-old Olivia Jansen’s memory is not forgotten.
Back in July of 2020, she was found in a shallow grave, and court documents showed severe abuse. Now, family and friends are hoping to make Olivia’s memory into a piece of art.
In the next month, people are hoping a wall in KCK’s Armourdale neighborhood will be filled with the toddler’s memory, and all the things she loved on a mural dedicated to her. They say she will be an angel watching over them, and a reminder to keep children safe.
Jansen’s step-grandmother, Elisabeth Jansen, said the past year has been difficult, and they are still waiting to see justice served in her case.
“The reality has set in that she’s not coming — it’s just bad. It does not get easier. People say in time — it doesn’t,” Jansen said.
For family and friends, time won’t let her memory fade. They want to make sure Olivia’s smile is always there to see.
Eileen Ferguson helped search for Olivia before she was found. For the past year she’s been trying to keep Olivia’s memory alive by passing out bracelets, pinning up bows, and now — a new project.
“I was like what wouldn’t be any better than to have her face there. Have something she loves there and brighten up the community,” Furguson said.
A mural for Olivia.
Prosecutors say Olivia’s father, Howard Jansen III, and his girlfriend, Jaquelyn Kirkpatrick murdered her. Both are charged and awaiting trial.
The community searched and mourned for Olivia. There were vigils in her honor, and strangers lined a memorial with teddy bears, balloons, and some of Olivia’s favorite things.
For the mural, Ferguson said she’s been trying to find the right artist, and did with Ciemantha Kosechata.
“They asked me could you do a street mural? I said yes of course,” Kosechata said.
Kosechata works on all kinds of art, and this will be her first mural, but she needs some help. Supplies, and other artists to help make her vision a reality. She said brushes, rags, ladders, and other items will help. She’s also asking artists to work with her to complete the project.
She is specifically looking for a skilled and experienced artist to paint Olivia’s face.
Kosechata lived with her grandparents when she was a child, and spent time in foster care. She said Olivia’s story touched her deeply.
“There’s so much of her story that is similar to my own, and I’ve never met her, I don’t know her, but she has a special place in my heart,” Kosechata said.
Over at LA Hardware, just blocks from the proposed mural location, Olivia was a regular with her grandfather. Owner, Shelly Eickhoff, remembers her coming into the shop and always being happy with a big smile.
Eickhoff said they will be supplying paint for the project. If anyone has items to donate they will be a drop-off location.
“I think that’s going to be so good for the healing of the community. It will be a place for them to go and say a little prayer,” Eickhoff said.
Jansen said Olivia’s memory is all they have left, and she would anything to hold her again.
“I want people to see her face and know that she was loved, but I want her face to stand for something to fight the evil out there. She was a ray of sunshine,” Jansen said.
The vision they have for the mural is Olivia’s face in the center with angel wings. Below it will say ‘somewhere over the rainbow,’ and there will be clouds with all of Olivia’s favorite things — including her boots she loved, and her favorite movie, Toy Story.
If you are able to help, reach out to Ciemantha Kosechata at 816-457-5017.
Any donations for the project can be taken to LA Hardware in KCK at 631 Kansas Ave.
Their goal is to have the mural completed by July 10, the anniversary of Olivia’s murder, and have it as a centerpiece for a celebration of life event.