KC Unsolved: 4 years later, police still searching for suspects in violent Westport murder of 24-year-old man

KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) — This month marks four years since a violent Westport murder rocked a local Kansas City family.

Now Kansas City Missouri Police are revisiting the case and talking with KCTV5 about why there’s still no arrest for the killing of Zach Pearce.

KCTV5 also spoke with Zach’s family about what the past four years have been like since their son’s murder.

“Christmas of course it’s special for everyone, but that was one of our unique things,” Joe Pearce, Zach’s father, explained. “My wife kind of goes overboard with the decorating.”

Christmas has always been about celebration for the Pearce family. Their Lee’s Summit home is decked out from room to room.

But for the past four years, Joe Pearce says this time of the year has also become a time of reflection.

“My wife says it brings her closer to Zach…He loved the traditions. A couple years ago we stayed up all night and she bought these ugly pajamas for all of us…these onesies. But we had a ball. We stayed up and played cards…and that was the last Christmas we spent with him,” Pearce said.

On December 3, 2017, Zach was murdered in cold blood. He and a friend were walking home from Westport. They were heading to Zach’s apartment. KCPD told KCTV5 that a car followed them and 2 people jumped out near 40th and Walnut. That’s where the shooting occurred.

“It was a robbery gone bad,” KCPD Detective Chason Crowell explained. He was assigned to the case from day one.

“They were cooperative…they gave them their cell phones and wallets…it should have ended there but it didn’t,” Det. Crowell said. “Zachary was shot and killed.”

“There is no way to explain losing a child…especially in that manner. There’s no way to explain that. Probably the toughest thing I’ve ever done in my life was walk into my wife’s room and tell my wife what just happened. So that was pretty brutal,” Pearce said.

Christmas 2017 was undoubtedly different for the Pearce family.

“That month was just horrific…it was like hell on earth,” Pearce said.

His anger has since turned into frustration. He and his family have struggled with the fact that there have been no arrests and no justice for Zach after four years.

“I miss his brilliance. I miss the political debate. I miss being able to call him if I was struggling with something. He had an insatiable appetite for knowledge,” Pearce said.

Zach’s friends will tell you the same.

“There was a fire in him,” Cameron Cox told KCTV5. “He would have been someone who made lives better.”

“He was like a living encyclopedia,” Chelsey Wendelin added. “The smartest person I’ve ever known.”

Sam Vinson, another one of Zach’s friends, said she also remembers how funny Zach could be.

“I definitely remember his humor. And he was so good with kids. Chesley and I both have kids and he was ‘Uncle Zach’ to all of them.”

Zach’s friends are also forever haunted by that December night in 2017.

“I actually remember hearing gun shots,” Wendelin said.

She didn’t realize it then, but it could have been the shots that took Zach’s life.

The next morning Cameron told her the news.

“He said you should probably sit down and then I knew. They said oh he’s gone,” she told KCTV5.

The suspects were gone just as quick.

“The car just disappeared. The vehicle was never seen again,” Detective Crowell said. Police haven’t been able to find it since.

The suspects took off in a blue 2000 Jeep Liberty with a giant cargo on top and Colorado plates. It was stolen from a home prior to the shooting.

“We see it on the news all the time…cars being dumped in rivers. Unfortunately, in KC, we have giant scrap metal yards where they crush vehicles. It’s not uncommon to be crushed dumped in rivers, even burned,” he added.

“It appeared to me, the people involved were young juveniles,” Det. Crowell also told KCTV5.

Police desperately need someone to come forward with information about the car or who the potential juveniles were.

“As little as it may seem or if you think it might not be important to us, well every little thing is important,” Det. Crowell explained.

“What was robbed was his future,” Joe Pearce said. “What would he have become? Where would he be right now? What would he be doing? What path would he be going down. I’m sure I’d be proud of him, but I would have loved to experience that.”

This Christmas, Zach’s family and friends are once again hoping for a miracle.

“You just always hold out hope,” Wendelin said.

The family hopes if someone comes forward with information. It will lead to a break in the case.

“I don’t know that it would bring closure, but it would bring some peace maybe that there was justice for Zach and some sort of justice in the world,” Pearce said.

Police also told KCTV5 this was not a typical robbery. Everything the suspects stole ended up being thrown onto nearby streets shortly after Zach was killed.

Fingerprints didn’t turn up a match, which means the criminals are not in the system. But if that changes in the future, they could get a hit.

Police say because of the way this crime happened, the shooting may have even been accidental. Detective Crowell said the juveniles may not have known how to use the gun and accidently fired; or they may have fired the gun out of panic because they were so young.

If you know anything call Crimestoppers. The number is 816-474-TIPS.

The reward for information that leads to arrest and/or filing of charges could be eligible for up to a $25,500 reward. All information is anonymous.