A Missouri man is a suspect in the shooting deaths of 5 men who were total strangers to him. The series of execution-style murders baffled investigators and sent shockwaves through Kansas City for over a year.
On Tuesday, police arrested 22-year-old Fredrick Demond Scott after linking him forensically to a cigarette butt and an iced tea bottle recovered near one of the crime scenes.
All of the victims were middle aged white men between 54 and 67. Police say four of the five victims were shot in the head. Several were shot in the back of the head.
“They didn’t see it coming,” Scott whispered under his breath to detectives.
Scott, of Kansas City, is charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of Steven Gibbons, 57, and John Palmer, 54. He is not charged in the other three deaths due to lack of evidence.
None of the murders fit a pattern. Some of the men were shot in broad daylight while walking their dogs. At least 2 of the dogs remained with their slain owners.
The break in the case came after Scott killed his fifth and final victim, shortly after noon on Aug. 13, according to Kansascity.com.
Scott, who didn't own a car, followed Gibbons off a city bus. He walked behind Gibbons at a distance, then crept up behind him and shot him in the head -- before turning around and boarding another city bus.
A surveillance camera at a nearby business panned away from the scene of the shooting -- robbing detectives of a view of the murder as it happened.
By the time the camera panned around again, it captured a man running from the scene and boarding a bus.
Police caught another break when a surveillance camera at a nearby gas station captured a clear image of the same man purchasing a bottle of iced tea before Gibbons' murder.
The photo was circulated among police, who four days later spotted a man fitting the description sitting on a wall and smoking a cigarette.
A surveillance team observed Scott toss the cigarette butt on the ground. Officers picked up the cigarette butt and sent it to a lab for DNA testing.
The DNA from Scott's cigarette butt matched DNA on the iced tea bottle found discarded near the scene of Gibbons' murder.
When police arrested Scott, he admitted shooting Gibbons, but he claimed the gun went off as he took it out of his pocket.
Police say there is no clear motive for the serial killings, but Scott reportedly told investigators that he was angry about the 2015 shooting death of his brother, Gerrod H. Woods, 23, who was one of two men fatally shot during an armed robbery.
According to Kansascity.com, Jimmie Verge, was sentenced to 45 years in prison for the double murders.
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said the families have endured a difficult year since the murder of Scott's first victim, John Palmer.
Palmer was found shot to death in a wooded area near the Indian Creek Trail on August 19, 2016.
“To the families, there’s no motive that makes sense. There just isn't," said Baker.