Walking down Madison Avenue, John Temple and George Shear noticed something in the Missouri River. It was clearly the lifeless form of a human being. Following the body as it floated down the river to the United States engineers dock at Main Street, they borrowed a boat and recovered the remains near the A.-S.-B. Bridge. This person had been in the water for some time.
A head injury on the upper right side gave the appearance that this man had been struck on the head. He was about 5 feet 8 inches tall maybe 55 years old, about 170 pounds, and had dark hair. He was wearing a gray shirt, blue overalls, and black work shoes. In his pocket was 106 dollars, clearly robbery was not a motive here.
The place Kansas City, Missouri. The time May 22, 1944. World War II was in full swing. The Union Station Massacre was over Pretty Boy Floyd paid with his life, Pendergast did his time, Kansas City was calming down after all the corruption.
The body ? John Lafever of 1904 West 36th Terrace, Kansas City, Kansas. My paternal grandfather. Identified by family, fellow workers from Union Station, and the dentist who had worked on his bridgework. He had been employed at the Kansas City Terminal Railway for 22 years in the baggage room at Union Station. Last seen by his daughter Lorraine on April 10th at 4 am. He had cashed his check at a tavern near his work after 6 . His cousin Raymond W. Johnson was with him, the men worked together and lived near each other. His cousin Johnson said he had used the taverns phone at 9 and when he returned John was no where to be seen. When he didn’t return home the next morning, Johnson reported him missing to the police.
As a child the story I heard was he was found in a pond with his head smashed in by a sledge hammer. Not your average sweetly coated story one would tell a child. Not the truth either. We were made to understand that he died on my brothers ( his namesake) birthday not true again it was much closer to mine.
Later I was told he was murdered on the bridge and his body thrown into the river. There has never been any proof of that story either.
What's odd is that I have always felt eerily haunted by his story.
His death Certificate placed his date of death on April 10th, it was stated the body had been in the river at least 8 to 12 days. So where was he for the other 30 days or so ? Cause of death was the head injuries due to drowning. What ever that means. On whether it was a homicide or not there was written in bold print “do not know“.
There was an investigation, and the death was never solved. Not a s far as I know.
April 1953. My parents lived in Kansas City Kansas, I was born in Kansas City, Missouri. They had to cross a bridge to get to St. Lukes Hospital.
I wonder about a statement my Aunt Lorraine made years ago. She said her father my grandfather was very moody and he loved his beer.
Aha maybe I am haunted in a sense. I too am moody. Very much so, diagnosed as being Bi-Polar ( Manic- Depressive) Maybe I am haunted by my grand father. Haunted by the same mental illness.
In those years a mental illness and suicide was something to be very ashamed of. Something to cover up.
A dark family secret !
Have I been angry at an imaginary murderer all these years ?
I wonder was he like me , his son, and daughter. As well as at least three of his great grand kids, Bi-Polar ? Did he kill him self, was the head wound cause after he drowned or before ?
Everyone involved is now dead or not able to remember. Maybe I’ll never know for sure.