Kansas City man has been charged with rape and is suspected of murder after one of the most horrid local crimes in recent history struck the Platte City community early Saturday.
The night of crime included the rape of a Platte City woman in her home on Maple Drive and the death of her husband, whose body was found along a dead-end outer road on the east side of Interstate 29 about two miles north of the Mexico City exit near KCI Airport.
Jacob E. McGinniss, 24, a resident of the Springs apartments on Barry Road, was charged with rape and armed criminal action early Sunday morning by Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd. Authorities confirm they consider McGinniss the only suspect at this point in the killing of the woman’s husband, Steven J. Sandoval, 32, of Platte City.
McGinniss is being held in the Platte County Detention Center on a $500,000 cash-only bond.
Zahnd emphasized that although McGinniss already faces the court action in regard to the rape, he has not yet been charged in the death of Sandoval.
“The (murder) investigation continues to progress,” Zahnd said, declining to pinpoint a time frame on when charges might be filed.
Platte City police investigated the rape; Kansas City police are handling the murder investigation since the body was found just a matter of feet inside the city limits of Kansas City.
Prosecutors allege McGinniss used a shotgun to threaten the rape victim, bringing the armed criminal action charge. In her statements to authorities, the victim described McGinniss as the best friend of her husband, whose body was found about four hours after the rape was reported. The wife told authorities she has known McGinniss for about six years, and that McGinniss had been with her husband in their residence Friday evening.
The prosecutor declined to discuss further details of the alleged case against the suspect. But drawing information from court papers, police reports, an interview with a relative of the murder victim, and interviews with sources close to the investigation who spoke on the condition of anonymity, what follows is a synopsis compiled by The Landmark of how authorities believe the evening may have unfolded.
A TRIP TO THE PARK
The two men, McGinniss and Sandoval, had left Sandoval’s home Friday evening to spend time at an area park.
“What we’ve been told is that this guy (McGinniss) wanted to talk to Steven and said ‘Let’s go to the park, I need to talk to you about something,'” said Bryan Gallegos, a first cousin of Sandoval.
Gallegos, who is a reporter for the Grand Junction Free Press in Grand Junction, Colo., was interviewed over the phone by The Landmark Tuesday afternoon.
Sandoval’s wife apparently never saw him again after the men left for the park, which one source said is believed to be Weston Bend State Park.
At 1:43 a.m. Saturday, Platte City police were dispatched to a 911 hang- up call at the Sandoval residence on Maple Drive. The victim told authorities McGinniss entered her home through an unlocked kitchen door. She said the suspect woke her up and she noticed he had a shotgun.
The victim reported the suspect told her that he had her husband duct taped in the trunk of his car. It should be noted at this point that authorities do not believe Sandoval was in the trunk of the car at the time of the rape. Sources told The Landmark investigators at this juncture are operating under the belief that Sandoval had already been killed prior to the rape taking place.
The Sandovals have two children. Reports vary on whether one or both of the children were home at the time of the attack. A Platte City police report mentions only the three-year-old son, however, another source says a nine-year-old daughter may have also been in the home at the time. Whichever the case, neither child was harmed.
The woman told police she observed the suspect load the weapon. With the threat of the shotgun, he forced her to disrobe and raped her on the bed in the master bedroom, court papers allege.
According to a police report, after the rape, McGinniss told the woman he was going to kill himself. She attempted to calm him down by telling him he could still run away. He left through the kitchen door, the police report indicates.
The suspect told the victim that he was driving a Monte Carlo that belonged to his roommate. After the suspect left, she dialed 911 on the phone base but was unable to speak to the dispatcher because the suspect had taken all the phone cords from the house. He had also taken her purse so she could not get to her cell phone, according to the police report.
During his estimated 30 minutes in the house, McGinniss allegedly told the victim that he had “killed or hurt” three other people earlier in the night, and that as a result Steven Sandoval had become angry, so the suspect claimed he duct tape Sandoval and put him in the trunk of the car.
He told the woman he would drop off her husband at the Comfort Inn in Platte City, where the husband’s parents were staying. The parents, residents of Garden Plain, Ks., were in Platte City to celebrate the third birthday of Sandoval’s son, sources said.
Again, however, from information obtained by The Landmark, authorities believe Sandoval likely had already been left for dead on the outer road along the interstate prior to McGinniss coming to the house on Maple Drive in Platte City.
THE MURDER SCENE
Sources close to the investigation speaking on the condition of anonymity say they believe Sandoval’s killer drove him to a little used dead-end outer road on the east side of Interstate 29 about one mile north of North Bethel Ave. An overpass with no interstate access crosses over I-29 at North Bethel Avenue. The murder took place about a mile north of that overpass on a narrow two-lane dead-end asphalt road.
The road ends at a line of trees near the beginning of the city limits of Kansas City. The crime occurred near the end of that roadway, Sandoval’s body lying toward the edge of the asphalt, sources said.
It is believed Sandoval was shot while standing outside the vehicle. Sources say he was shot three times in the back with a shotgun.
From the crime scene, the Williamsburg Plaza Apartments of Platte City can be viewed looking to the east across I-29. To the immediate west of the crime scene is a field, part of which has been used as a site for illegal dumping of old televisions, freezers, other appliances and old carpeting, etc.
To reach the scene of the homicide traveling from Platte City, a motorist must drive south on I-29 to the Mexico City exit, travel east on the overpass above the interstate, then take a left (north) onto an outer road. About a mile north of Mexico City Ave., the outer road swings to the east and intersects with North Bethel Ave. At that intersection is an older outer road marked with a “dead end” sign. A left turn (north) onto that dead-end road, which is virtually hidden from the nearby interstate, will lead to the crime scene, about one mile from where the newer outer road intersects with North Bethel Ave.
Authorities say two teenagers discovered Sandoval’s body about 5:30 a.m. Saturday. The Platte County Sheriff’s Department initially responded to the scene, but Kansas City police were called when it was determined the body was lying inside the city limits of Kansas City by a matter of feet.
SUSPECT FOUND NEAR IOWA
A Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper took McGinniss into custody early Saturday in rural Putnam County, near the Iowa border. Authorities said McGinniss was naked in the back seat of his car parked along a cornfield. The vehicle contained weapons, and a source said the shotgun allegedly used in the crimes has been recovered.
The trooper detained McGinniss because he believed he was high on methamphetamine, according to law enforcement sources. It wasn’t until later, after taking McGinniss to a hospital, that authorities realized they had captured a man wanted for questioning in a rape and murder in Platte County.
Authorities are still gathering information on McGinniss’ background. The rape victim told police that McGinniss had been in a mental hospital at one time and was on medication. A law enforcement source confirmed for The Landmark that McGinniss has “a history of treatment for mental issues.”
At a court appearance in front of Platte County Circuit Judge Daniel Czamanske on Monday, McGinniss was very subdued in answering the judge and drooled from his mouth. The judge at one point asked the bailiff to wipe the moisture from the suspect’s face.
Next scheduled court appearance for McGinniss is Tuesday, Sept. 20, when it is expected either the public defender or a private attorney will enter an appearance on his behalf.
MURDER VICTIM REMEMBERED
Bryan Gallegos, the Colorado journalist who is a first cousin to Steven Sandoval, remembered his relative as being “pretty laid back.”
Gallegos said the two hadn’t seen one another in several years, but had been close while growing up.
“I’m several years older than he was,” said Gallegos, 43.
“He was kind of like a little brother to me. It’s shocking,” he said from his home in western Colorado.
“He was pretty laid back. He was the type of guy who would give you the shirt off his back if he could. He was a helpful type person.”
Gallegos said his mother and Sandoval’s mother are sisters.
A complete obituary is published on page A-3 in this issue of The Landmark. It describes Sandoval as an accountant who attended the First Baptist Church in Platte City. It also describes him as a “true Raider fan.”
Services are set for 11 a.m. Thursday at the First Baptist Church in Platte City.