Crime & Courts

KC-area jurors convict man more than 30 years after killings of pastor, choir director

Three decades after two people in Kansas City, Kansas, were fatally shot, a Wichita man has been found guilty of the killings, the Wyandotte County prosecutors announced Thursday.

Jurors convicted Melvin L. Shields, 51, of two counts of first-degree murder in connection to the killings of Jolene Jones, 27, and Steve Ray, 33. The two were shot in the area of 19th Street and Argentine Boulevard in April 1988.

Jones and Ray were longtime friends who had a daughter together. He was the pastor of a Baptist church, and she was a choir director.

The day before their bodies were found, Jones and Ray had met for lunch.

Their bodies were found in a secluded area near the Kansas River. Jones’ purse was found several blocks away, and the car she had been driving that day later was found abandoned in Kansas City, Kansas, according to authorities.

Investigators with Kansas City, Kansas, police and the Metro Squad were unable to identify a suspect, prosecutors said.

Criminal charges were filed against Shields in April 2016 following a comprehensive case review by police detectives and the Wyandotte County District Attorney’s Office. Prosecutors did not say what evidence prompted the filing of charges.

Shields has a lengthy criminal record, according to Kansas Department of Corrections records.

He was sentenced to prison a few months after the double killing for unrelated convictions of burglary and theft, according to prison records.

He later was convicted of other crimes, including aggravated battery, unlawful possession of a firearm and aggravated burglary.

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