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Ten years later, dead baby case remains unsolved

  • The Kansas City Star
  • Published Monday, April 28, 2014, at 4 p.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, April 29, 2014, at 6:04 a.m.

The 10-year-old mystery still haunts Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd.

It was April 26, 2004, when utility workers found the body of a newborn baby boy abandoned along a road in Kansas City, North.

Zahnd came to the forlorn scene and attended the autopsy, which did not determine how the baby died or whether its death was a criminal act.

Today, authorities are no closer to learning the identity of the child, dubbed “Precious Joe.”

“The most important thing to me is to identify who this boy was and why did he wind up where he did,” Zahnd said.

There have been a handful of tips and leads over the years, Zahnd said. “Unfortunately, none of them have yet led us in the direction to finally find out,” he said.

Kansas City Power & Light Co. employees found the body near Tiffany Springs Road and Hull Avenue, in what was an undeveloped area in Platte County. The area now is being developed for housing.

The baby, who was white, was found under a Wal-Mart sack. A portion of the placenta and umbilical cord was recovered, indicating that the baby was not delivered in a hospital, Zahnd said.

A hoop earring was found near the body.

The Kansas City Police Cold Case Squad continues to investigate, and there is a reward for information. Calls to the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS ( 816-474-8477) can be anonymous.

“April 26 marks a solemn anniversary for everyone in Kansas City,” Zahnd said in a written statement. “Somebody, somewhere knows what happened to this little boy, and we need that person to step forward so he can rest in peace.”

A small cross that once marked the spot has been removed. Zahnd said he hoped that despite the passage of time, publicity about the case may prompt someone to remember something and call authorities.

“It would compound this tragedy if we silently allowed Precious Joe to slip from memory,” Zahnd said.

To reach Tony Rizzo, call 816-234-4435 or send email to trizzo@kcstar.com.

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