Investigators are revamping efforts to solve the murder of a 16-year-old girl who was awakened while sleeping in her Kansas City home, then sexually assaulted and strangled three decades ago.
In the early morning hours of July 26, 1989, the Cox family of Kansas City, Missouri was sleeping. A few hours earlier, upon finishing her shift at the Worlds of Fun amusement park, 16-year-old Fawn Cox had come home sometime after 11 PM. Fawn went straight to bed, knowing she was scheduled to work again the next day.
The air conditioning units in the house were running, so no one heard Fawn return home from work and would not hear what was about to happen. The family dog had stirred at one point, alerting Felisa Cox, but because the dog was pregnant, the animal’s agitation was ignored.
That evening, Fawn Cox was sleeping in an upstairs bedroom she shared with her sisters, but this night she was sleeping alone. The other family members were sleeping downstairs.
Authorities would later find evidence indicating that the intruder or intruders snuck in through a window that led to the second-floor bedroom where Fawn Cox was sleeping.
The intruder found Fawn Cox alone and managed to strangle the teenager before she could make noise which might have alerted the rest of the family.
Family members reported not hearing anything, and police believe there was little struggle before the murder occurred.
Sergeant Ben Caldwell with the Cold Case Unit of the Kansas City Police Department is not ruling out that the suspect may have known the victim.
“To pick that home and that window to come in undetected and leave undetected makes sense the suspect knew Fawn,” Caldwell said.
Sergeant Caldwell says that over the years, several suspects have been looked at, including three juveniles that were charged and a neighbor.
However, Caldwell says that the DNA samples taken from the suspects did not match evidence collected at the scene, which includes a DNA sample taken from a hat that is believed to have belonged to the killer.
The case has gone cold.
“We’ve managed to exclude all family members,” said Caldwell. “We’ve managed to exclude those three that were arrested and charged and numerous other parties. So we’re kind of back to square one.”
All of the evidence that was gathered in the case has been carefully preserved. In fact, every ten years, the investigators retest the evidence in the hopes that advances in technology might provide new clues.
To that end, Kansas City police have been able to build a DNA profile of the suspect. They keep searching, but so far have not hit upon a match.
DNA testing, particularly advanced genealogy testing, has greatly improved in recent years, but it is very expensive, potentially running into tens of thousands of dollars.
The cold case unit is working with federal partners trying to secure the necessary funding to finance genealogy testing, as it is simply money that the Kansas City Police Department does not have.
“There is no program as it were right now,” explains Caldwell. “I think San Francisco is the first with the Golden Gate Killer and they’re a large department and were able to fund it.”
“It would take hopefully volunteers from the community you know if we could establish a fund like that,” Caldwell continued. “Right now, we’re working to try and get the money and we could see kind of a pilot program where we could gain additional money and sustain it.”
Caldwell says that they have computers constantly searching for matches on websites like such as Ancestry and 23andMe, as well as the FBI’s CODIS system.
“The computer’s constantly searching for matches,” Caldwell added. “Every felon, every person that goes to prison, their DNA is automatically uploaded to the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), and its constantly seeking matches for unknown profiles that we upload.”
The Kansas City Police Department is encouraging anyone who might have any information, call the TIPS Hotline at 474-TIPS or call the KCPD Homicide Unit.