After years of being unable to find her killer — and unable to pay to set up a database for advanced DNA techniques — the Kansas City Police Department worked with a local FBI office to discover the girl’s killer 31 years after the murder was committed, as CBS News reported.
Cox Was Killed in Her Bedroom in 1989
Fawn Marie Cox was a junior at Northeast High School and a cashier at Worlds of Fun, a Kansas City amusement park, the Kansas City Star reported. The paper reported that she was not a drug user and attended Sheffield Assembly of God Church.
According to local news station KCTV-5, Cox worked her job at Worlds of Fun, until 11 p.m., went home and went to bed because she had to work the next day. That night, Cox’s sister, Felisa, said the family dog seemed agitated, but blamed that on the dog’s pregnancy.
As air conditioner units cooled the summer air, someone snuck through a window into Cox’s room, raped and strangled her. The nature of the crime later led Kansas City Police Department Seargent Ben Caldwell to tell KCTV-5, “To pick that home and that window to come in undetected and leave undetected makes sense the suspect knew Fawn.”
Felisa was with her mother, Beverly Cox, when they found Fawn, The Manhattan Mercury reported. In the morning, she said she heard her older sister’s alarm go off. “I went over to shake her, ‘Come on! Get up!’ But she had been gone for a while,” Felisa told KCTV-5.
Three Men Were Arrested for the Crime But Never Charged
The Manhattan Mercury reported in 1989 that the police said they had no suspects at the time; however, DNA was collected from the scene.
In 2000, The Kansas City Star reported that the family donated $3,000 in hopes that a reward would lead to the discovery of Cox’s killer. “Money does do a lot of talking on the streets. That’s what we’re hoping and praying for,” Beverly Cox said.
The paper also reported that police had not given up on the case, having arrested a neighbor and “three suspects (who) were charged in connection with Fawn’s death.” However, those charges were dropped when the DNA did not provide conclusive matches. Instead, police theorized that her death was part of a “botched robbery,” The Kansas City Star reported.
Amber Gonzalez, Cox’s sister, told Fox-4 that she was traumatized by the case and ended up in the hospital because she became so obsessed and overwhelmed by it. “I looked up to her so much,” she said, now 45. “I wanted to be just like her. She was my protector.”
A Long-Suspected Relative Was Confirmed as the Killer, Police Said
In 2000, Kansas City Police Detective Jay Thompson said, “newer forensic science might help.” However, the family fought for years to have DNA evidence from the scene tested, according to KCTV-5. Advanced testing costs were described as prohibitive by the KCPD, who said testing was “too expensive.”
At one point, Caldwell told The Kansas City Star, “Whoever killed her either has never been charged with a felony or is no longer alive. People don’t start killing and then quit and stay out of trouble as if they fell off the face of the earth.”
Caldwell would turn out to be right.
In 2019, Caldwell started to collect money to establish a genealogy program, FOX-4 reported. “It would take hopefully volunteers from the community you know if we could establish a fund like that,” he said. “Right now, we’re working to try and get the money and we could see kind of a pilot program where we could gain additional money and sustain it.”
In March, they worked with the FBI to secure funding and eventually discovered that the blood and semen evidence left at the scene belonged to Cox’s cousin, FOX-4 reported, who was 21 at the time of the murder, died in 2006. CBS News reported that her cousin, Donald Cox Jr., died from a drug overdose.
Felisa Cox told CBS News, “It’s a relief there’s closure. The answers aren’t always what we were asking for, but there’s closure.”
Gonzalez told FOX-4 that she was surprised that the person who killed her sister was a relative, but the news has brought closure. “I don’t know how to explain it. It’s the happiest moment. I can’t be nothing but happy. This is what I’ve been praying for my family,” she said.