Cass County Prosecuting Attorney declines to file murder charge
By Allen Edmonds
A man being sought as a person of interest in the Saturday morning shooting death of Jeremy Kitscher, 40, of Belton, was captured by Platte County sheriff’s deputies Wednesday after a vehicle pursuit.
Joshua Landon Hance, 34, has been charged in Cass County Circuit Court with one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm with a bond of $50,000, but Cass County Prosecuting Attorney Ben Butler’s office decline to file murder charges “at this time,” according to Belton Police Lt. Dan Davis. Butler has not returned a phone call requesting comment.
Hance is being held in Platte County on charges of tampering with a motor vehicle and resisting arrest by fleeing. His bond in Platte County is also set at $50,000.
Belton police issued a request for assistance from the public in locating Hance on Tuesday afternoon in connection with the homicide, which occurred just after midnight Saturday in the 300 block of Grand Street.
Just after noon Thursday, Belton police were notified that Hance was in custody at the Platte County Jail in Platte City on charges connected with a vehicle pursuit. Detectives were told that a Missouri Department of Revenue agent had attempted to stop a vehicle for a fake temporary license plate. A Platte County deputy became involved in a pursuit after the vehicle failed to stop.
The Platte County deputy said the pursuit lasted for about 45 minutes before the vehicle was eventually stopped after running over spike strips placed by officers. Hance was taken into custody after a brief foot chase, according to court documents.
The suspect had two different identification cards in his possession, but neither was connected to him, the deputy said. Eventually, officers used a fingerprint reader to identify him, and a computer check revealed the stop order from Belton.
The deputy said that Hance was fleeing in a vehicle reported stolen from Kansas City.
Belton detectives attempted to interview Hance in the Platte County jail on Wednesday regarding Saturday’s shooting, but the suspect refused to talk without an attorney.
Detectives took photographs of tattoos on the defendant, and noticed that he had a tattoo that was similar to one described by a witness to the shooting.
According to the probable cause statement, Hance was found guilty of first degree tampering with a motor vehicle in Clay County in 2014, and was arrested in Kansas in 2013 for numerous charges, including aggravated assault of a law enforcement officer with a deadly weapon. Hance’s Missouri Probation and Parole officer told detectives that Hance had absconded from patrol and that officers should consider him to be armed and dangerous since he had “attempted to shoot a Kansas Highway Patrolman in 2013,” according to the probable cause statement.
Belton officers were called to the 300 block of Grand Street at 12:17 a.m. Saturday morning on a medical assist after a neighbor said a male subject was at her door asking for an ambulance because of a shooting, according to the probable cause statement.
Officers arrived on the scene and were directed to a neighboring residence where the victim lived, and had returned, according to the report. Officers found the back door to the victim’s residence standing open and called into the home, but received no answer. They entered residence and immediately observed droplets of blood leading to a larger pool of blood located in the hallway.
Officers cleared the residence and located the victim laying face down on a bed, with blood soaking his shirt. They located both an entry
and an exit wound and began administering emergency medical aid. Kitscher was transported to Belton Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 12:51 a.m.
The owner of the residence where Kitscher was found arrived at the scene during the investigation, and told officers she had not been at the location most of the day. She gave officers the name of the suspect after confirming it on Facebook, telling officers he had been staying at the home for about two weeks.
She told officers that Hance had left his gun in her car overnight the night before, and that Hance had called her during the morning hours on Friday asking her to bring it to him. She said that just after noon, she put the gun in her bra to get it out of her car, then gave it to Hance at her residence later that day. She described the gun as being “small, black, with a safety on the left side and a ‘switch’ on the back. She said it is a small caliber, ‘possibly a .32 or .38’ She also advised the gun had an orange spot on the back of it,” the probable cause statement said.
Meanwhile, officers at the Belton scene were notified that Grandview police had asked for assistance at 12:17 a.m. with a foot chase in the are of 155th and Bel-Aire Ave., just blocks from the shooting scene. Grandview officers had been tracking a suspect with a K-9, but lost the scent in the area of Ann Ave. and 155th. Due to the close proximity and the time frame, Belton police believed that the person chased in the Grandview incident was the person they were seeking in the Belton shooting.
Meanwhile, a witness to the Belton shooting arrived on the scene and told officers that he was at the residence when the shooting occurred. He said that Hance took his phone after striking him with the gun and before running from the scene. Using a “find my phone” application, he was able to assist officers in tracking the phone to a location in the 15400 block of White Avenue.
The Grandview officer involved in the foot chase reported that he was in the area on a prowler call when he observed a white male with a “scruffy face” wearing a black jacket and blue jeans jumping over fences in back yards. He said he observed the individual go to the front porch of a house in the 15400 block of White Circle, but when he approached, the man fled from him. He said the man eventually jumped a fence in that same block, fell, and went into a wooded area.
Officers when into the wooded area and observed footprints in the wet grass, following the tracks to an opening in the woods, where they located a cellular phone and black handgun that matched the description given by the witness at the residence.
The witness that was in the home at the time of the shooting told officers that Hance and another individual were in the residence late Friday afternoon having a discussion regarding the victim that was “agitating” Hance, according to the affidavit. Later that evening, Hance told the witness to have Kitscher “wake him up” when he got home. The witness said he went to bed and heard Kitscher arrive home around midnight. He told officers that Kitschner came into the master bedroom that they share and asked why his belongings had been “gone through.”
The witness said that he told Kitscher that Hance had gone through the property, and that the Kitscher noticed that his coin collection was missing.
He said Kitscher went to Hance’s bedroom, knocked on the door, and the two started arguing. The witness said that he stayed in the master bedroom until “he heard what he believed to be the victim body slamming the defendant to the floor,” according to the affidavit.
“He said he went to the other bedroom and saw what he described as the two men interlocked. He said the victim and the defendant struggled with each other for about five minutes. He said they were kind of all over the room and at some point they even ended up on a mattress that was sitting on the floor,” according to the affidavit.
“He said the defendant was saying ‘get the (expletive) off of me,’ and ‘I’m going to (expletive) shoot you.’ At some point, the defendant said he had a gun. He said that has the defendant was saying he had a gun, the victim released his grasp on the defendant,” the report said.
At that point, the witness told officers that Hance reached into his front pants pocket, pulled out a pistol and shot Kitscher in the chest. He said Hance fired the weapon once and he immediately noticed Kitscher's shirt become “red with blood.”
He said Kitscher started to stand up, and “blood was starting to pour out of the wound.” He said he went with Kitscher back to the master bedroom they shared and Kitscher laid down on his bed.
The witness told officers he found his cell phone and called his father. He said while he was on the phone with his father, he turned around and “the defendant hit him with the pistol, which dazed him and he dropped his phone.”
He told officers that Hance picked up his cell phone, pointed the gun at his head, and then ran out the back door of the residence. he said he heard Hance talking with his father on the cell phone after he picked it up. This was later confirmed by the witness’ father, who had recorded the conversation on his cell phone, the report said.
The witness then told officers that he believed Kitscher's wound was severe, so he walked to the neighbor’s house, knocked on the door and told the neighbor that his roommate had been shot and that he needed an ambulance. He said he walked back to the front of his residence to the window above where the Kitscher
was lying and told him through the window that help was on the way. He said that victim responded, “OK.”
He said he left the scene after that, because he was afraid Hance “was going to kill him.”