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Police identify Smithville man as the person who died after fight at Arrowhead

  • The Kansas City Star
  • Published Monday, Dec. 2, 2013, at 11:34 a.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013, at 9:44 a.m.

Police on Monday said that medical authorities still have not determined what caused the suspicious death Sunday of a 30-year-old Smithville man outside Arrowhead Stadium.

“Detectives are awaiting autopsy/toxicology results ... to determine the cause of death and whether or not a crime has occurred,” Kansas City Police Department spokesman Darin Snapp said in a written statement.

Those results could take up to six weeks to process, Snapp said. The body of Kyle A. Van Winkle of Smithville showed no obvious signs of trauma, Snapp said.

Police said Van Winkle died after a parking lot altercation late Sunday afternoon while the Kansas City Chiefs played the Denver Broncos.

Without conclusive proof that a crime had been committed, police released three of the four “persons of interest” whom officers had taken into custody during the investigation. The Star is not identifying them because they have not been charged.

Police originally said three men had been detained, but confirmed Monday afternoon that a fourth man also had been placed in custody. He, too, likely will be released without charges, police said.

A spokeswoman for the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office said Monday that police had not yet submitted an investigative file for lawyers there to review.

Van Winkle was the son of Dean Van Winkle, a detective sergeant in the investigations unit of the Grandview Police Department, where he also serves as public information officer.

Van Winkle defended his son in an email statement to the newspaper.

“So much of what I am seeing makes my son look to be the one to blame,” Van Winkle said. “Those that know my son know he is not a thief and how good a man he is. Not much else can be said.”

Little in Van Winkle’s public history would identify him as a candidate for the parking lot brawl that witnesses described to police.

He was employed at CommunityAmerica Credit Union, a spokeswoman there said.

According to his LinkedIn online profile, Van Winkle attended Belton High School between 1999 and 2002, and while there lettered in four sports, was a team captain in two and was a member of the National Honor Society.

Van Winkle later attended William Jewell College, where he graduated with a degree in business administration, banking and finance in 2006, he reported to LinkedIn.

A college sports preview of the 2003Jewell football season described the 5-foot 9-inch, 170-pound sophomore as “providing depth” to the starting corps of Cardinal cornerbacks.

After graduation, he worked as a consumer loan officer for BankLiberty in Liberty, his profile reported.

As police continued their investigation Monday, officers searched the Independence home of one of the men jailed as a person of interest.

Neighbors saw several unmarked cars parked outside the home in the 400 block of North Ponca Drive about 7 a.m. Monday before officers began the search. Police brought out three dogs, which were given to the resident’s family and friends to care for. It was unclear what else they took.

Neighbors described the resident as a kind man who is well-known in the neighborhood but keeps to himself.

“He usually goes out of his way to help his friends out and doesn’t cause trouble,” neighbor Michael Doerr said.

The death investigation started about 5:20 p.m. Sunday, after authorities said a man, since identified as Van Winkle, entered a green Jeep that was not his in Lot A of the Truman Sports Complex.

A struggle began when the owner discovered this, and it ended when Van Winkle collapsed to the pavement. He later was pronounced dead at a hospital. Officers said the fight did not appear to be related to fan rivalry.

Police took the four into custody and interviewed other witnesses.

Snapp described the investigation as “ongoing” and asked anyone who witnessed the altercation to call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-8477.

To reach Mark Morris, call 816-234-4310 or send email to mmorris@kcstar.com.

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