Courts & Crime

Kansas City reopens 1970 cold case slaying of black politician

In a reversal of an earlier decision, Kansas City police are reopening a 40-year-old investigation into the 1970 shotgun slaying of black political leader Leon Jordan.

The about-face came after local civil rights leader Alvin Sykes met with Police Chief Jim Corwin, and comes on the heels of another major development in the case. Police have rediscovered physical evidence in the case that they had earlier said was missing.

Not only have they found partial fingerprints taken from the murder weapon, a Remington 12-gauge Wingmaster shotgun, they also have found the gun itself — in one of their own patrol cars.

Enhancing and analyzing the old fingerprints using modern-day technology such as the Automated Fingerprint Identification System could lead to new clues in the case, according to Linda Netzel, director of the department's regional crime lab.

"It was the chief's decision to reopen the case after consulting with others inside the department and visiting with Mr. Sykes," police spokesman Capt. Rich Lockhart said Wednesday. "But the biggest issue was finding the evidence."

Jordan, a former Kansas City police officer and co-founder of the black political club Freedom Inc., was gunned down on the street about 1 a.m. on July 15, 1970, just outside his Green Duck tavern at 2548 Prospect Ave.

The slaying occurred three weeks before a Democratic primary in which Jordan was running for re-election to a seat in the Missouri General Assembly. At the time, Jordan was considered the most powerful black politician in the state.

But police said at the time that politics was only one of many possible motives for his slaying.

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