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Kansas City man charged with murder of 29-year-old woman June 17

The 3200 block of E Linwood Blvd as captured by Google Earth on June 19, 2023. Taylor Thomas, 29, was fatally shot at this location in the early morning hours of June 17. Thomas died from her injuries on June 20.

Google Earth

A Kansas City man has been charged with murder in connection with the fatal shooting of a woman outside Central High School in June.

Richard G. Harris, 37, of Kansas City, was charged Tuesday in Jackson County Superior Court with second-degree murder, three counts of weapons offenses, three weapons charges and one count of interfering with a motor vehicle.

He is accused of killing Taylor Thomas on June 17 near a high school in southeast Kansas City.

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Thomas, a Kansas City resident and mother of six, was found unconscious by Kansas City police officers in the early morning hours of June 17 in a backyard near 3200 E Linwood Blvd., The Star previously reported.

The shooting occurred two days after her 29th birthday.

Thomas suffered wounds to her head and neck and was hospitalized for several days. She died June 19, according to family members.

Kansas City police officers were notified of Thomas’ death in the early morning hours of June 20, according to court documents.

“I will never understand why this happened to you,” Thomas’ mother, Lawonia Carlton, wrote online Monday. “You will always be with me, no matter where I go or what I do… and I will fight for justice for you until my last breath.”

After the shooting, eyewitness testimony prompted police to begin searching for a suspect driving a red Kia, believed to belong to Harris’ mother, according to court documents. One witness told police he had seen Harris in the area earlier in the day, court documents show, and that he had been arguing with Thomas.

According to court documents, an eyewitness told police that Thomas and Harris may have been romantically involved and that Thomas was known to be violent toward her.

According to court documents, the witness also told police that Harris tried to control Thomas’ access to her money and that he may have facilitated her prostitution to get more money from her.

Surveillance footage from midnight to 1 a.m. June 17 shows Harris and Thomas pulling up to a driveway on Walrond Avenue around 12:30 a.m. in a red Kia and interacting with several people in a silver minivan. After talking, Harris and Thomas appear to search the car for something before Thomas walks away with his hands in the air, according to court documents.

According to court documents, the video shows Harris chasing and hitting Thomas, throwing her to the ground, shooting her and driving away.

Harris was arrested Monday. Court records show he has a prior conviction for robbery.

A memorial service for Thomas was held July 6. Her death was the 71st homicide reported in Kansas City this year, according to data compiled by the Star.

“She was full of life and always did her best and more for everyone she knew,” Thomas’ sister, Ariel Ellis, wrote online. “She was the breath of life and loved by so many.”

Ilana Arougheti (she/they) is a news reporter for the Kansas City Star. She graduated from Northwestern University, where she studied journalism, sociology, and gender studies. Ilana has previously written for the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, and Raleigh News & Observer. Contact us with questions or tips!
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