When she heard a racket at her door just after midnight, Beverly Crowl didn’t call the police department where she had worked for 32 years.
The 69-year-old Independence woman dialed her twin sister across the street and got an answering machine.
“Somebody’s ringing the bell and beating on the door,” she said before the voice message stopped.
The words wouldn’t be heard until the next morning. By then, Crowl was dead. Police found her on her living room floor in the 14600 block of East 37th Street. She had been shot in the head.
Authorities on Friday charged four people in the March 19 home invasion and murder: Darrin E. Jefferson, 26; Melissa P. Farris-Visnich, 32; Nicholas J. Krejci, 23, and Anthony J. Standifer, 25, all of Kansas City.
They all face charges of second-degree murder, robbery and two counts of armed criminal action. The murder charge could be upgraded to first degree pending further investigation, Jackson County Prosecutor Jim Kanatzar said Friday at a news conference in Independence.
“This was a brutal murder of a senior citizen,” Kanatzar said, adding that he would seek maximum sentences.
Three of the suspects are in custody, and police are seeking Jefferson. The defendants are being held on $1 million cash bond.
The motive? They went to the wrong house. According to court documents, they targeted a house where they had been told they would find drugs and cash.
Instead, two of them barged into Crowl’s house and found the retiree standing in her living room with a phone in her hand. One of the men took the phone away and hit “redial.”
Standifer allegedly told detectives that he killed Crowl because she had seen their faces.
At Friday’s news conference, Police Maj. Ken Jarnagin praised Crowl’s long service to the Independence Police Department, much of it as a records clerk. He also talked about the challenge that detectives faced in going after the killers of a longtime colleague.
“It was tough duty, but professionalism takes over,” Jarnagin said.
A confidential witness came forward with information leading to the arrests.