40 years later Jody Adkins has never returned home.
The details of Jody Ledkins’ life are relatively sparse. From reports it was obvious that she came from an unstable house and that she would run away frequently, ultimately landing in a juvenile probation program.
Jody and her family moved four times before her 14th birthday; ultimately settling in Kansas City, MO. By 1981, her parents had divorced and it wasn’t long before her mum remarried, but that also ended in divorce. Then in 1985, Jody and her mum appeared to be in a place, and their relationship was strengthening.
While there is more data about Jody’s disappearance than her life as a whole this is what is known leading up to Jody’s disappearance:
May 23, 1985: Jody skips school with a friend, which was ordinary for Jody. She had gotten in difficulty in the past for skipping school. In 1984, she pushed a security guard which resulted in her being assigned a minor probation officer. Instead, Jody spent the day and evening with her friend, Melissa Folscroft at Melissa’s house located near East 14th Street and Winchester Avenue.
Later that evening, Jody and Melissa walk to Jody’s boyfriend’s home. The walk was almost 14 minutes located near the 700 block of Cambridge Street in Kansas City, MO. At some point that evening, Jody got into an argument with her friends and boyfriend. Jody needed to go to an unknown location, but they did not want to go.
Later that evening, Jody and Melissa leave her boyfriend’s house and head back to Melissa’s house on foot. By 10 pm, Jody calls her mum asking for a ride home. That evening, Karen did not have her car and was incapable to pick Jody up. Jody told her mum that she’d find a ride home with a friend. Not long after the phone call with her mum Jody leaves Melissa’s house.
Jody was last noticed walking northbound on Winchester Avenue and 14th street. She did not have any extra clothing or cash with her. When Melissa spoke to investigators, she was under the feeling that Jody was leading the way back to her boyfriend’s home.
May 24, 1985:
The following morning, Karen realizes her daughter never come back home and contacted Jody’s Deputy Juvenile Officer to report her missing. When the Juvenile Officer learns of Jody’s disappearance, she implies that Jody may have been depressed about something, and to give her the weekend to cool off. The juvenile officer did formulate two warrants for Jody citing her as an “endangered juvenile who should be taken into police detention if found”.
That advice from the Juvenile Officer would eventually derail the whole case. The first 48 hours when an individual goes missing are the most crucial. Two years later, while Karen was discussing with Jody’s caseworker, it was found that Jody was never reported missing to the police. This discussion occurred after the first warrant was canceled by the courts in July 1986.
Three years later, in 1989, Jody’s juvenile officer receives a letter from an individual claiming to be Jody. The letter states that she is alright but doesn’t clarify why ‘Jody’ left. When the handwriting is compared to a previous letter Jody wrote, Karen is uncertain if the handwriting fits that of her daughter.
In 1993, Karen begins getting bizarre and threatening calls where the caller would demand cash in exchange for Jody. On one occasion, the caller stated “If we don’t get the cash your daughter will be sent to you in pieces”. These phone calls would last for two years. Luckily, Karen was capable to record all of these phone calls and report them to the police. While police were eligible to make transcripts and triangulate the locale of the phone call to a payphone in Kansas City, the caller was never recognized. By August of that year, the case would be reclassified as a possible homicide.
In 1997, two jail inmates claimed they had data regarding Jody’s disappearance. This data brought police to the Mississippi River because the tip suggested that the murderer would have stashed her corpse in a car and then drove it into the river. Nonetheless, the search was unsuccessful.
Where the case stands today:
Karen Stratton now resides in Arkansas but visits Kansas City a few times every year to search for her daughter. If you have any advice regarding Jody Ledkins case, please contact the Kansas City Police department at (816) 234-5140