KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Two months after a woman was shot to death as she left church, prosecutors charged another woman with her death.
Investigators returned to North Third Street and Richmond Avenue Monday morning to announce that 29-year-old Melanie Perry was charged with first-degree felony murder and level 3 discharge of a firearm in the shooting death of 62-year-old Lillian Jackson.
According to her pastor, Jackson was talking on the phone to her daughter when she was shot and killed after leaving Mt. Zion Baptist Church, where she had volunteered. A stray bullet hit her in the temple, killing her behind the wheel of her car. She was headed home to Shawnee and about to turn onto North Third Street off Richmond Avenue on Sept. 18.
On Monday morning, Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark Dupree thanked the police department and the community for their help in the case.
“We are thankful for the community and how they are working with the Kansas City, Kansas, police department because every life is important, and everyone that is taken is too many, and so we desire to bring about justice for all of them,” Dupree said.
Chief Karl Oakman said the department didn’t receive any tips on Jackson’s shooting until nearly two weeks after she died. The department publically asked the community for help with finding the person responsible for shooting the gun that killed Jackson. Oakman said several tips came into the department a day after the plea for information.
“What I wanted to do is to formally thank the community of Kansas City, Kansas, for coming together, assisting us with this homicide,” Oakman said. “This is what I’ve always talked about. The police cannot do this alone. The community cannot do this alone. But when the community and the police come together we can make this community a lot safer.”
The district attorney’s office charged Perry with aggravated battery and aggravated assault in an unrelated crime on Oct. 20. She has been in jail since that arrest. Perry is held on $250,000 bond on the first-degree murder charge.
“All of this played out within days of one another before she came into custody,” Dupree said.
He offered few details about what led to the shooting before the public release of the affidavit.
“Many of those things will really be spoke in court. And once it’s spoken in open court we can get into great detail about the evidence that police found, what it actually shows,” Dupree said.
The family of Lillian Jackson, including her husband, asked for privacy on Monday. Jackson’s husband has been getting updates from investigators.
“And I spoke with him this morning. He’s relieved. He was very thankful. And he basically said he was praying for us and I told him we were praying for him,” said Danon Vaughn, a Kansas City, Kansas police detective. “This is our community. This is our house. Like myself, born and raised here. This is home and we all live here. So these streets have to be safe. We are grinding every day. We are still grinding on this case.
Police say based on the evidence they have, Perry is the only person that charges are currently appropriate for.