Autopsy and toxicology results for the three Kansas City Chiefs fans who were found dead behind their friend’s home last month could take longer than expected due to a major backlog of cases.
The circumstances surrounding the deaths of Rickie Johnson, 38, David Harrington, 37, and Clayton McGeeney, 26, remain unclear nearly a month after their bodies were found in the backyard of their friend Jordan Willis’ home. Johnson, Harrington and McGeeney had arrived at Mr Willis’ home to celebrate the Chief’s victory on 7 January and were never heard from again.
Two days later, McGeeney’s fiancée broke into Mr Willis’ home and found a body on the back porch. Mr Willis, an HIV researcher, has claimed that he did not hear the concerned family members knocking on his door or McGeeney’s fiancée breaking in before he was notified by police that his friends’ remains were on his residence.
Police have said that Mr Willis is not a suspect in the investigation and that foul play is not suspected, but frustrated loved ones have pointed out alleged inconsistencies in his story.
A cause and manner of death have not been released pending autopsy results. But toxicology results that could help bring clarity about what happened during Johnson, Harrington and McGeeney’s final moments may take longer than expected. The medical examiner in charge of conducting the autopsies told NewsNation that there is a major backlog of cases across the Midwest.
NewsNation correspondent Alex Capriello said, “there is no more urgency in performing these toxicology reports than any other case that comes across their desk”.
Alayna Gonzalez, a spokesperson for the Kansas City Police Department, said in an earlier statement that the private company in charge of providing results was Frontier Forensics.
“They are an entirely separate entity from the police department, so we have zero impact on the timeline of their medical findings,” Ms Gonzalez said. “We have been notified it could be as much as an additional six or more weeks to receive the toxicology reports.”
Stopped by the medical examiner who is performing the autopsies of the #KansasCity3. An investigator there said there is a major backlog from other cases they are responsible for across the Midwest. Basically there is no more urgency in performing these toxicology reports than… pic.twitter.com/VCbwriZAPo
— Alex Caprariello (@alcaprari23) January 31, 2024
According to the National Association of Medical Examiners, autopsy results are needed to properly interpret toxicology reports.
A source close to Mr Willis told Fox News Digital earlier this week that he had checked into a rehab facility to treat his alleged addiction. The Independent has reached out to his attorney.
“After the shocking loss of three of his close friends under extremely tragic circumstances, Jordan recognised that he had a problem with addiction,” a family member told the network. “He immediately checked himself into rehab after vacating his home and putting his things into storage.”
In a 2019 report, Missouri’s Department of Public Safety highlighted the need for more federal funding to tackle the backlog.
Meanwhile, family members have raised concerns about law enforcement’s remarks that foul play is not suspected. Johnson’s stepmother Linda Johnson said that several items that belonged to Johnson found at Mr Willis’s home were returned to the family by friends, not authorities.
“It just means that (police) weren’t thoroughly looking everything over in the house,” Ms Johnson told NewsNation.
Johnson’s father Rickie Johnson Sr, along with other relatives of the victims, have questioned Mr Willis’ claims that he did not hear people who showed up at his door asking for Johnson, Harrington and McGeeney.
“I don’t know why he would hear the police and not hear the people that had been there just prior,” Mr Johnson told NewsNation. “It’s like he’s acting, he’s just trying to seem like, ‘I didn’t hear anything before this, and now that the police are here, Oh, I suddenly hear everything that’s going on’.”
According to Mr Willis’ attorney, John Picerno, Mr Willis was unaware that loved ones had been trying to locate his three missing friends. Mr Picerno denied his client had any involvement in his friends’ deaths and noted that he is not being investigated as a suspect.
“Two people came to his house; however, he did not hear them as he sleeps with earbuds and a loud fan,” Mr Picerno said in a statement to The Independent last week. “One of those people, the wife of one of the deceased, tried to reach him via Facebook Messenger, unfortunately, he did not see the message until after the police contacted him.”
Mr Picerno had initially said that Mr Willis saw his friends leave his home, but later claimed that he went to bed while Johnson, Harrington and McGeeney were still inside the residence.