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More than 50% of KCPD's evidence affected by fire, documents say

Hundreds of thousands of evidence bags stored at warehouse

October 15, 2019


New court records reveal an evidence warehouse fire in August 2018 affected more than 50% of the evidence stored there.

Defense attorney Dan Ross has been outspoken about wanting to learn more about the fire since in happened. The new records, including an affidavit from Servpro, came up in his case defending Robert Townsend, who's accused of a double murder in March 2017.


"It is a big deal," Ross said. "A lot of times cases hinge on one word, one bit of evidence."

Ross said in Townsend's case, a T-shirt may be a crucial piece of evidence, but the evidence was damaged by the water used to put out the fire.

"They didn't take the soaked, wet, soggy bags out of the warehouse because trial was coming up,' Ross said. "They just let them sit there, and they got moldy and moldy and moldy."

According to Servpro, 54% of the bins had been affected and that the warehouse was storing hundreds of thousands of evidence bags.

The work took the company 98 days to complete.

"I want it all. I want to see what the fire did to the property," Ross said.

He also has concerns about the chain of custody of the evidence when Servpro workers were handling it.

Kansas City police said they are confident Servpro handled the evidence up to their standards when processing it from the building.

Ross said prosecutors and police have been reluctant to release information. He worries some people are waiting, unaware that evidence in their cases is gone.

"As a defense practitioner, I'm discouraged a little bit or disappointed," Ross said. "Slowly but surely, we are getting the information that we need."

Officials said they haven't had any cases dismissed as a result of the fire and are continuing to inventory evidence impacted.

Ross understands police need to be cautious and says there's still much more to learn.

"Nobody's been down this road before," he said. "What do you do when the evidence room burns up?"

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