Metro survivors honor murdered loved ones

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Parents of murdered children and other survivors gathered Sunday to remembers their lost loved ones.

The annual vigil was held Sunday afternoon at the Blue Ridge Presbyterian Church at 6429 Blue Ridge Boulevard in Raytown, Mo.

Several family members attended the two-hour vigil that included a slide show presentation and heartfelt words from survivors.

“This group helps survivors understand and deal with their pain,” said Julie Gulledge.

Gulledge is the Parents of Murdered Children chapter leader. Her brother Kyle Gulledge, 38, was murdered in 1997. She now dedicates her time to assisting other surviving family members.

Sunday kicks off National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, which is April 18th-24th.

Police: ‘Stop Snitching’ Campaign Intimidates Many

Friends, Family Keep Looking For Killer

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Mourners Gather To Remember Innocent Victim In Westport Shooting

May 18, 2009
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Two years have passed, but the grief is still painfully obvious for the family and friends of Chris Bartholomew, a 21-year old man who was gunned down in a parking lot at 39th and Broadway.A group of friends and family gathered on Sunday at the Children’s Fountain in North Kansas City to remember him and make a plea for someone to come forward with information that can help police catch the killer.”It’s been a long and frustrating two years when you know that there are people out there that know what happened to my son,” Misty Kirwan, the victim’s mother said.Police report rival gangs were shooting at each other that night and one of the bullets hit Bartholomew in the back. Kirwan said her son died a hero. He had gone to Westport to pick up a friend and when the shots rang out, he pulled his friends out of the line of fire.

“It sucks having what happened to him,” Mark Starks, a friend of the victim said. “But he did save a guy’s life for it and we still thank him today and know he’s looking down on us and keeping an eye out for us.”At the tribute, those who had gathered wrote messages on balloons releasing them skyward in hopes their thoughts would reach their departed friend. Friends and family are offering a $30,000 reward for information on the crime.

If you can help — call the Crime Stoppers TIPS Hot Line at 816-474-TIPS (8477), text TIP452 plus a message to CRIMES (274637) or submit a tip online at kccrimestoppers.com.

Vigil Honors Memory of Murder Victim

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Two years later and police still don’t know who pulled the trigger in the death of 21-year-old Christopher Bartholomew.

Sunday’s vigil was all about keeping Chris’ memory alive but also about keeping his story alive in hopes of finding his killer.

“The pain doesn’t ever go away. You have a new life It’s not normal but to anybody whose been through this,” Christopher Bartholomew’s mother Misty Kirwan said.

Bartholomew was one of four people shot at 39th and Broadway on May 20. He died a few days later .Even though the area was packed with people leaving the bars, they had very few leads. Kirwan is still hopeful that will change.

“We need people to come forward and call in tips. It has to stay out in the public because these people will kill again if they haven’t already,” Kirwan said.

Crime-victim advocate Alvin Brooks says Chris’s death was not a case of him being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

“It was the person who was shooting that was at the wrong place at the wrong time. That’s what occurred,” Brooks said.

Kirwan wants people to keep the memory of her son alive and bring those responsible for his death to justice.

“He had a big heart. He would have never though of doing anything like this to anyone else.”

Bartholomew’s grandmother Sue said, “We miss Chris and we want to keep him forever young in our heart. We want people to keep it out in the open and not forget.”

The family hopes that the $30,000 reward will compel anyone with any information will come forward.

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Misty Kirwan has little to celebrate this Christmas. She’s not planning parties or putting up a tree.

The holidays are just another reminder that her only child, Chris Bartholomew, is gone.
Bartholomew, 21, was fatally shot in the back of the head in a Walgreen’s parking lot near Westport on May 20, 2007. He was an innocent victim caught in the crossfire of a drive-by shooting.
Kirwan helped raise a $30,000 reward and got billboards posted. But police haven’t received a valid tip for a year.
Investigators on Tuesday shared new details to focus more attention on the unsolved homicide at 39th Street and Broadway.
Police said they thought that four cars were involved. They have identified four occupants of a black Dodge Charger, which fled down an alley before the fatal bullet was fired. But they need help identifying the occupants of the other three cars.

The four cars, containing rivals in a violent feud, converged at the crowded intersection that night as hundreds of people leaving taverns milled on the streets.

Bartholomew was there to give a friend a ride home, but the friend had wandered off.
The Charger was headed west on 39th and preparing to stop for a red light when a blue Isuzu Rodeo pulled up close in the next lane. A silver or gray Pontiac G6 trailed the Rodeo.
Police aren’t sure exactly what happened next, but investigators said they thought that occupants of the Rodeo and Pontiac began shooting into the Charger. Witnesses heard yelling and cursing.

Occupants of the Charger fired back. Witnesses saw some men standing outside the cars shooting and others shooting from their car seats.

The bullet-riddled Charger with shattered windows escaped down the nearby alley.

The Pontiac jerked into reverse and backed up to pull into the Walgreen’s parking lot.

The Rodeo sped west to the intersection and north on Broadway.
The maroon car, possibly filled with occupants aligned with the Charger’s occupants, raced to follow the Rodeo onto Broadway.

Occupants of the Pontiac fired from Walgreen’s parking lot toward Broadway while gunmen in the Rodeo and maroon car apparently fired at each other.

Bartholomew was standing on stairs between the parking lot and the Broadway sidewalk when the trio of bullet-spewing cars sandwiched him.
He pushed a homeless man down and out of the way but caught a bullet to the back of his head as he tried to duck.
In all, police said they thought six guns were fired during the rolling gunbattle.
Police later found the Charger on 39th Terrace.

The Rodeo’s driver dropped off a wounded passenger at a hospital. He survived a torso wound.
Police later found the Rodeo with bullet holes along the driver’s side abandoned in the city. It had been reported stolen.
The Pontiac was returned to a rental company with no bullet holes, but some damage to the back end.
Police determined that two occupants of the Charger suffered minor graze-type wounds.

Weeks later, one of the occupants was accused of firing 30 rounds at a Kansas City police officer during a traffic stop. The wounded officer survived. The suspect remains behind bars.
The rival groups tied to Bartholomew’s shooting had been involved in several other shoot-outs in previous months, said homicide Detective Janice Heins.
The suspects were bold, Heins said. They weren’t deterred by the presence of a parked police car on Broadway with its lights flashing.

“That’s how reckless and out of control these people were,” she said.

Heins has struggled to bring a case to prosecutors because of the complicated crime scene and the no-snitching mentality of those involved.
“There were so many people involved and so many guns,” she said. “But I believe it’s possible to charge someone eventually.”

Kirwan said she thought that no one was safe in Kansas City until the shooters were locked up.
“They didn’t look. They didn’t care. They didn’t think,” she said. “They didn’t care that anyone else was around.”
Anyone with information should call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS (474-8477). Callers can remain anonymous.

Families Band Together To Solve Unsolved Cases


Group Wants Witnesses To Come Forward, Help End Mysteries

October 4, 2008

KANSAS CITY — A group of family members of victims of abductions or unsolved homicide cases are banding together to make sure that their loved ones aren’t forgotten.

Group members said their lives have been consumed with finding answers to the cases.

“Every time you turn on the news, you hear of something like this,” John Frishman said. “We just want whoever’s out there to turn themselves in and do the right thing.”

Frishman and his wife joined the cause after their nephew, Jeff Rodgers, was killed on April 9. His killers were never caught.

For the families, the right thing to do now is to keep pushing for attention, they said.

“It’s exhausting every day just to be able to find the resources just to be able to do so,” Becky Klino said. “If it’s not constantly reminded, you tend to forget. For us as the families, we never do.”

Klino’s son, Branson, 20, vanished from Skidmore, Mo., in 2001.

“My son’s killers are still walking the streets. There were hundreds of people who saw what happened, but nobody wants to talk,” Misty Kirwan said.

Anyone with information about these cases or any others are asked to call CrimeStoppers at 816-474-8477.

Is curbing crime in Westport — and KC in general — a hopeless cause?

Oct 5, 2008
By MIKE HENDRICKS
The Kansas City Star

Let’s start by stating the obvious.

No one has the answer to solving the crime problem in Westport or the city in general.

But community leaders, merchants, police and family members of crime victims offered suggestions in response to Wednesday’s column, which focused on public-safety concerns within Kansas City’s best-known entertainment district

Why Westport? As Councilwoman Beth Gottstein contends, “Westport is symptomatic of what’s going on across the city.”

And because a recent homicide prompted the head of the merchants association to ask for help dealing with the problem.

Violent crime was up citywide last year, we learned recently after police officials corrected errors in a previous report, and the trend is continuing.

The same holds for Westport. From April 1 to Sept. 30 (warm months when street crime is more likely to occur), there were five rapes, seven aggravated assaults, 15 armed robberies and one murder in the area from 39th to 43rd streets, Southwest Trafficway to Broadway.

In that same period in 2007 there was one rape, seven aggravated assaults, 20 robberies and no murders.

Then again, it’s all about where you draw the lines, Misty Kirwan reminded me when we spoke over the phone.

Her son, 21-year-old Chris Bartholomew, was shot and killed in May 2007 just across the street from that statistical area, in the 3800 block of Broadway. He was there to pick up a friend who’d been drinking in Westport and was caught in a crossfire.

Said Kirwan, “I’m just a mom whose son is gone because of the crap that goes on.”

Curbing that involves ending the chaotic scene that arises in Westport on weekends after midnight when hundreds — sometimes thousands — of underage teens show up to hang out.

Police and security officers are so taxed keeping order and the bar entrances open to customers that they have less time to patrol fringe areas.

It was while the cops were dealing with the crowd two weeks ago that a 24-year-old woman was shot and killed in an attempted robbery in a nearby parking lot.

“It’s getting extremely bad down here,” said Colby Garrelts, who owns the Bluestem restaurant. “Four of my servers have been mugged.”

How to reduce the crowds of minors and young adults who have no business being in an area that caters to an over-21 crowd late at night?

Gottstein would add a crackdown on cruising to what has been tried already.

Under a proposed ordinance she says she’ll introduce soon, vehicles could be stopped after a set number of passes. Police could then check for curfew and other violations and order drivers to leave an area.

“We have to figure out a way to get the kids out of there,” Gottstein said.

The cruising ordinance would apply citywide, addressing similar problems in Swope Park and other congested areas.

Would it make much of a difference?

Some, says Alvin Brooks, head of the Ad Hoc Group Against Crime.

But Brooks says one more ordinance won’t solve this longstanding problem.

“I think there have to be broader programs for young people in general,” Brooks said.

Talk to the kids hanging out in the parking lots and sidewalks of Westport late at night, Brooks said, “and the first thing they would tell you is, they haven’t got anything else to do.”

True, they shouldn’t be out that late, Brooks said. And of course, parents should take more responsibility.

But any discussion about Westport security and crime in general ought to focus on youth programs, he said.

Monica Carter agrees.

“Programs like Night Hoops do work,” said Carter, whose niece, Devin Cassidy, was killed in that attempted robbery two Saturdays ago.

Carter’s husband, Michael Carter, owns radio station KPRS, whose target audience is the black community.

Perhaps, she said, the young men accused in her niece’s murder were listening that night. And perhaps she and her husband could help some kind of new campaign to convince young people that there are better things to do than hang out on street corners in Westport.

“But how do you reach the thugs?” she said. “That’s the million-dollar question.”

Benefit Helps Solve Murder & Missing Person Cases

10/04/08

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – If you know something, say something. That’s the message from local parents at a fundraiser for murdered and missing children.

Dozens joined together in Kansas City Saturday afternoon for the 65-mile benefit ride and poker run.

Organizers say the third annual ride drew the biggest crowd yet.

Parents welcomed the support but say nothing can take away their pain.

“In a way every day is a bad day because you just want to make up one day and not miss them so much and that’s never going to happen,” said Misty Kirwan.

Misty’s son, 21-year-old Chris Bartholomew, was killed in a drive-by shooting in Westport last spring. But he wasn’t the target.

“His killers are still walking the streets and nobody’s talking,” she said.

Becky Klino hasn’t seen her son for seven and a half years. Branson Perry was last seen outside his father’s home in Skidmore, Missouri.

“Branson had a heart of gold,” said Becky.

Knowing Branson could be alive keeps Becky going.

“Chances are real slim and that’s the hardest thing, but you have to keep believing.”

Branson’s stepfather drives a special van everyday. It has a picture of his son on one side and Chris Bartholomew on the other.

It keeps their faces fresh in the public eye. It’s also a reminder that a senseless crime can happen to anyone.

“You don’t know what’s behind somebody’s face. You don’t know what’s going to happen when you drive down the street. And it’s scary,” said Becky.

Branson Perry reward recently doubled to $20,000. Chris Bartholomew’s reward is $30,000.

2008- National missing persons tour makes a stop in the Midland Empire.

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Reported by: Deanne Brink

Saturday, Aug 30, 2008 @02:03am CST

A national missing persons tour makes a stop in the Midland Empire.

The nationwide road tour, called ‘On the Road to Remember,’ was created to generate new interest in cold cases of missing people throughout the nation.

“It gives you hope. It gives you a sense that my son hasn’t been forgotten,” says missing person, Branson Perry’s mother, Becky Klino.”

After many years, missing persons and homicide cases seem to fade from the public’s radar, but for families and friends who are left behind, the nightmare continues every minute of every day.

For Cue Center Executive Dir., Monica Caison, who’s leading the caravan of volunteers, the tour is about hope.

“We just hope that through our awareness campaign we’re doing cross country, someone will come forward and give information to investigators,” she says.

‘On the Road to Remember’ left Wilmington, North Carolina August 21 and will travel more than 5,000 miles through 17 states to raise public awareness.

Through it, hundreds of volunteers will take part in various legs of the tour, which includes 30 rally stops, like the one Friday in Craig, where families with missing loved ones just want to keep hope alive.

To date, the Cue Center, the tour’s sponsor, has assisted more than 8,000 families in need.

The Cue Center is supported entirely by donations and active volunteers.

Squitiro’s let-it-all-hang-out style creates friends, foes

Jul. 01, 2008

By STACY DOWNS

The Kansas City Star
Even though the room was dimly lit and their coffee hadn’t quite kicked in, passengers boarding an early-morning Amtrak train at Union Station instantly spotted the 6-foot-8-inch mayor of Kansas City. Then the loud voice of first lady Gloria Squitiro jolted them awake:

“C’mon, Funk, move your ass.”

Brian and Amy Murray, an Overland Park couple, witnessed the scene in mid-May. As is so often the case with people who encounter Squitiro in public and private life, each reacted differently.

Amy Murray says Squitiro struck her as crass, lacking the decorum expected of one of the area’s most recognizable civic figures.

Murray’s reaction mirrors criticism generated since Squitiro came to prominence as the unpaid right-hand woman in the mayor’s office. And it seems to fit with the portrayal of Squitiro’s demeanor as described in a lawsuit filed against the city by a former staffer, who alleges Squitiro used sexually and racially insensitive language in the office.

Yet Brian Murray took Squitiro’s early-morning words to be funny, indicative of a close, playful relationship with her husband.

That sentiment squares with what friends and family say about Squitiro, whom they describe as nurturing, charming and refreshingly down to earth. Her casual but cut-to-the-chase attitude, they say, is why she’s often misunderstood in the political arena.

“My biggest flaw,” Squitiro says, “is that I’m completely open. I treat everyone I meet like family.”

Ever since Mark Funkhouser took office in May 2007, Squitiro has been at the center of one controversy after another:

There was the dealership offer for a free hybrid Honda. She initially accepted the loaner, but Funkhouser later declined.

There was the park board appointment, at Squitiro’s suggestion, of Minuteman Civil Defense Corps member Frances Semler, which drove a convention from Kansas City. Semler eventually resigned.

There were the bodyguards Squitiro requested to protect her husband during meetings in Hispanic and black neighborhoods.

Then came her family Christmas newsletter last year, in which Squitiro detailed her husband’s prostate exam. The letter, sent to 100 people, including reporters, was mentioned in The Washington Post and became a hot blog topic.

“Whether she likes it or not, she’s a role model and an ambassador of Kansas City,” says David Donovan, a Kansas City psychologist and psychoanalyst who consults with businesses. “Being down-home and acting like the rules don’t apply to her make it feel like she’s flaunting her position. It seems narcissistic.”

Over and over again, Squitiro hears: “We elected her husband, not her.” She dismisses the sentiment as naive. She points out she was her husband’s campaign manager, a position that commonly turns into a job in the administration.

And, she adds, “When you elect a man in office, you get his wife, too. It’s been like that since Eleanor Roosevelt and even before that.”

Birth instructor

Squitiro’s personality was partly shaped by her years spent teaching natural childbirth classes.

Before becoming Kansas City’s first lady, she instructed more than 500 women and men in the Bradley Method, a breathing and relaxation technique for drug-free labor. She got into the business after having both her children delivered by Caesarean section, which she thinks can prevent parents from instantly bonding with newborns.

Squitiro also worked as a certified doula, assisting in the deliveries of more than 100 babies at hospitals and homes. Doulas care for an expectant mother’s emotional needs.

“The first delivery I assisted was a twin birth. I became instantly addicted,” she says. “There’s a holiness with birth. It’s so powerful and moving.”

For 17 years, couples drove to her Brookside home each week and walked inside without knocking. She greeted them with herbal tea and plates of fruit. Up to 11 couples at a time sat in her dining room surrounded by paintings of pregnant women on the walls.

In the class, Squitiro broke the ice with humor.

“Penises and vaginas are what got all of us into this room together,” she would say.

“By skipping formalities,” she says now, “we could comfortably talk about the intimate subject of childbirth and all its graphic details.”

Whit and Kelly Wright, who recently moved to Fort Bragg, N.C., from Kansas City, Kan., credit Squitiro with helping them through an emotionally painful time. Their first child was stillborn. They chose to have their second child naturally.

“We loved her personality,” says Kelly Wright, mother of 2-year-old daughter Hadley. “She was empathetic to what happened to us and gave us the mental strength we needed.”

“I was skeptical of a natural birth, as a typical Army officer,” says Whit Wright. Yet, he adds, “Gloria has an incredible way of connecting with people.”

Squitiro encouraged expectant fathers to tell their wives during delivery that they were strong and beautiful. Her approach helped deflect the nervous anticipation of being a first-time parent, says Matt Riggs, outreach coordinator for Mid-America Regional Council’s solid waste management, who took Squitiro’s classes with his wife, Annie.

“But we didn’t include her in our delivery,” says Riggs. “She can be brash, and my wife and I can see her saying some of the things she’s been criticized for.”

Still, Riggs recommended Squitiro to Raegan Buatte and her husband, Dawud Hasam.

“She was warm and very concerned that all the women in the class, no matter how reserved, speak up for themselves,” Buatte says. “I think a lot of Midwesterners aren’t accustomed to her East Coast-style directness.”

Mother

Squitiro, who turns 50 on Saturday, grew up with three brothers and a sister in a working-class city on Long Island, N.Y. Her parents spoke Italian at home. Her father was a roofer. Her mother and the kids helped with the family business. Gloria answered the office phone. From her father she learned the art of practical joking, something she enjoys to this day.

Families on Squitiro’s block were from Puerto Rico, Germany and Israel. Neighbors were considered surrogate parents and routinely shared their traditional foods.

“I grew up believing that it wasn’t different for people to be different,” she says, slowly rocking on a chair on the front porch of her home. “That can be harder here.”

The porch is where friends and family congregate most nights — and Squitiro carries the theme into the mayor’s official weekly e-mail newsletter, “Funk’s Front Porch.” The newsletter she writes is a folksy mix of city news and personal information, such as an item announcing the couple’s children, Tara and Andrew, are home from college this summer.

“First, I am Tara and Andrew’s mom and Funk’s wife,” she says. “Beyond that, I don’t need too much in the world.”

Funkhouser was attracted instantly to Squitiro when he met her in West Virginia. He was an instructor at Salem College and she was a student, though not in his class.

“I thought she was damn good-looking,” says Funkhouser, 58. “She had a lot of personality and spunk. She was a very special person and I knew I was not going to date anybody else at the same time. We’ve been together ever since.”

Funkhouser loves how Squitiro has created a close-knit family. Squitiro wanted more children but wasn’t able. So she built an extended family. She and Funkhouser have hosted 10 foreign exchange students, many of whom return for visits. Over nearly a decade, two of Andrew’s friends, brothers Nick and Alex Gripp, lived with them for weeks at a time, because their mother, a single parent, frequently traveled for work.

“I call her mama and I consider her my second mom,” says 18-year-old Alex Gripp of Kansas City. “I talk to her for advice all the time.”

Life in the Squitiro-Funkhouser household was different from that in their children’s friends’ homes. Four years ago, Tara and Andrew took their mother’s last name. Squitiro felt it was important to pass on her family name; Funkhouser said it made no difference to him.

Squitiro fed her family organic food years before it became common.

“I ate tofu hot dogs in elementary school,” Tara, now 22, says. “Everyone thought I was so weird.”

And Squitiro commonly tells crude jokes, Andrew, 19, says. He remembers mixed reactions to her sometimes raunchy humor when the family hosted “park nights” on summer Fridays, which brought together friends, neighbors and childbirth-class families.

“People either love her or hate her,” says Andrew. “Men sometimes don’t like her much, because they’re intimidated by funny women. I’d always notice men being quiet and cringing with an oh-God look on their faces, but they’d go along with her, because their wives love her.”

Squitiro can be a cutup. In a photo session with a Star photographer and a freelance writer last year in her home, she mugged for the camera, placing a hand in front of her husband’s groin until a picture was snapped. Funkhouser, smiling, moved her hand away.

The family holiday newsletters, filled with Squitiro’s offbeat wit, have embarrassed Andrew. In last year’s notorious letter, containing the graphic depiction of the mayor’s prostate exam, she wrote: “I waited in gleeful anticipation as I watched the doctor’s sausage-sized fingers go up under the sheet.”

“I find her and the Christmas letters funny,” says close friend Susanne Norris, an education specialist for the National Park Service in New York. Norris was Squitiro’s college roommate in West Virginia. “Her sense of humor is not everybody’s, but she’s just herself and she’s real. I don’t find her offensive.”

Kristi Pollington of Tonganoxie became friends with Squitiro after taking her birthing classes. Pollington also found the letter funny but concedes, “Unless you know her, it seems odd. I would never go to my husband’s prostate exam.”

Six months later, Squitiro still feels hurt by the wide, howling reaction to the holiday newsletter.

“I find it strange, because year after year, people who receive them tell me they enjoy them so much that I almost feel pressure to write them,” she says. “And it’s not unusual to accompany your spouse or have your spouse accompany you to the doctor. I don’t remember everything the doctor says, so it helps to have someone there.”

Squitiro also thinks it’s all right to be a little R-rated and swear sometimes, so long as it is not directed at people.

First lady

Squitiro sits in a tiny cubicle next to one of the two main doors to her husband’s office on the 29th floor of City Hall. A receptionist answers the phone and sits outside the door used by visitors. Squitiro’s desk fronts a line of staffers’ cubicles.

Posted behind Squitiro’s computer are three quotes she finds inspiring. One reads: “The more controversy there is, the better the job you’re doing.”

The current controversy involves Ruth Bates, a former Funkhouser staffer and past family friend. Bates filed a lawsuit against the city, the mayor and Squitiro. Alleging discrimination and retaliation, Bates, who is black, contends that Squitiro referred to her as “mammy” and made crude jokes about male genitalia and staff members’ sexual activity.

“Needless to say, it’s been a difficult time for us,” says Squitiro, wiping away tears. She won’t comment specifically on the lawsuit.

“It’s been hard on me, too,” says Bates, who also declined to comment further.

Ten days ago, a majority of City Council members said the lawsuit and other incidents related to Squitiro were distracting. Other civic leaders and political leaders feel the same way.

“She has become the issue,” says Lynda Callon, director of the Westside Community Action Network Center, a nonprofit neighborhood and policing organization. “I understand that she’s a nice person and that she loves her husband and is trying to be a great helpmate. But we all have to edit ourselves. Her missteps in such a public and powerful forum come off as naive and they’re taking her husband’s attentions away from serious business issues.”

Funkhouser has made it clear he doesn’t want Squitiro to go, because he feels she’s a strong asset.

If he gives up, he says, and sends Squitiro home, “I would never know if I did the best job I could. When I’m through with this job, I want both of us to walk out of there with our heads held up high.”

Squitiro gets e-mails and letters from everyday people who support her and tell her to “hang in there.” A couple of weeks ago, she got a dozen coral roses from a stranger in the Northland. Last week a prayer book arrived in the mail. “All this helps,” she says.

Her friends say they’re stunned by the continuing controversy.

“My husband and I have never been to a home that’s so open to people of all races, sexual orientation or religious creeds,” says Sarah Mauzey of Springfield, who once lived in the Kansas City area. “She is so far from being racist, judgmental or crazy. She’s a role model to me as a parent, and she and Mark are role models to me and my husband, because they’re such an unusually strong team.”

At the mayor’s office, Squitiro shuns the typical first lady outfit of business suit and heels in favor of long, flowing skirts and sandals. The relaxed what-you-see-is-what-you-get look, she says, is more in line with what voters want in a politician.

“Before, City Hall projected wealthy elite,” she says. “I don’t pretend. I don’t like phoniness.”

Some City Hall observers contend Squitiro has taken on de facto roles of chief of staff and communications director. But some who have worked closely with Funkhouser and Squitiro say that’s not the case.

“I never had a feeling that people had to get through her to get to Mark,” says Mike Eglinski, who in February became city auditor of his hometown, Lawrence.

Eglinski worked more than 10 years in Funkhouser’s auditor’s office, and moved up to the mayor’s office for eight months.

“I understand people’s concerns about the unusual arrangement, thinking that she’s the unofficial face of Kansas City,” Eglinski says. “But that’s more of the perception than the reality.”

Squitiro points out that she doesn’t set policy. But she does push her husband to push his agenda and attends many public meetings.

“I urge him to act fast, because he only has a few more years in office,” she says. “I don’t mind giving up our lives to try to help people.”

She also helps organize parties and writes the mayor’s weekly newsletter and thank-you cards. She handwrites condolence letters to families of murder victims.

In May 2007, Misty Kirwan’s son, Chris Bartholomew, 21, was killed as a bystander in a gang-related drive-by shooting. At a Northland town hall meeting last year, Kirwan took a microphone and spoke about the crime. She broke down crying and left the room. Squitiro followed her outside.

“I didn’t know her, and for someone in her position to take a personal interest in my son meant something to me,” says Kirwan. “She’s called me three or four times since just to check in to see how I’m doing.”

Squitiro is the heart of the mayor’s office, says Tara, who is studying for a master’s degree in public administration.

“My dad would come off so much colder without her,” Tara says. “She makes sure he honors people, whereas my dad focuses mostly on business.”

On a recent afternoon, sitting in Muddy’s coffeehouse near the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Funkhouser explains how he and his wife interact differently with staffers.

“I don’t give a s— if it’s Joe’s birthday,” he says, his voice rising and speeding up. “But Gloria made sure there was a cake and threw a party.”

Funkhouser describes Squitiro as a “skydiver who’s afraid of heights,” willing to jump into situations without regard to personal consequences. Once the couple was shopping at Sam’s Club when a man apparently suffered a stroke. Funkhouser stood aside, but Squitiro rushed to aid the man and his wife, even though she didn’t know exactly what to do.

“She’s assertive, but she worries about what people think of her,” he says. “She can be timid. She won’t fly on airplanes and she hates taking elevators.”

But for now, she’s willing to face the heat at City Hall.

“I have nothing to hide,” she says. “I don’t see what the big deal is.”
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Mother Keeps Son’s Case, Memory Alive
Slain Man’s Family Gathers For Ceremonial Balloon Release
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Nearly a year to the day after her son was shot to death in Westport, Misty Kirwan kept his case and his memory alive Sunday.The family gathered for a ceremonial balloon release at the Children’s Fountain in North Kansas City, Mo., for Chris Bartholomew.”Chris was an All-American kid,” Kirwan said. “He loved sports. He worked hard. He loved his family. He loved his friends. He’d do anything in the world for you. If you asked him, he’d be there.”On May 20, 2007, Bartholomew, 21, was in front of Walgreens in Westport when someone started shooting. He was caught in the crossfire and later died from his injuries.

“I’ve gotten messages from total strangers saying even though they didn’t know Chris, his death has affected them just because he was a good kid,” Kirwan said.Though Kirwan wants justice for her son, she said even that wouldn’t take away her pain.”It’s not going to change anything in my life. My son’s still gone, and it’s still going to hurt every day, but if I can keep another parent from going through what I am, it’ll all be worth it,” Kirwan said.A $30,000 reward is being offered in the case. Anyone with any information is encouraged to call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS.

2008-Family Calls For Justice On Anniversary Of Westport Murder

Friends remember Chris Bartholomew as a hero

Sunday, 18 May 2008,

Chris Bartholomew was murdered in May 2007 at 39th and Broadway.
Kansas City News

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  –  One year ago, Chris Bartholomew went to Westport to meet his best friend Andrew Porter. As they were walking near 39th and Broadway, someone fired at least a dozen gunshots into the crowded streets.

Bartholomew was shot and killed while trying to take cover. His murder remains unsolved.

On Sunday, the 21-year-old’s friends and family gathered at the intersection where he died to remember him, and make a desperate plea for help in finding his killer.
“It’s really frustrating. He’s like my little brother. The best friend I ever had, and now he’s gone and we still have no justice,” Porter said.

Bartholomew’s mother said her son – a student with hopes of becoming a police officer – didn’t deserve to die. The pain of his death is everlasting.

“Every day is as hard as the first day,” Misty Kirwan, Bartholomew’s mother, said. “To me it happened yesterday. It happened today.”

If you have any information on Bartholomew’s murder, call the TIPS Hotline at (816) 474-TIPS.