By HEATHER HOLLINGSWORTH, The Associated Press
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Authorities have charged a Kansas City man with stabbing his wife to death, saying the couple’s 7-year-old daughter told a school counselor she found a body in her basement and later told investigators that she “didn’t want to be next.”
Benjamin Byers, 45, was charged Thursday with second-degree murder, armed criminal action, abandonment of a corpse and child endangerment in the death of 47-year-old Melissa Byers. Bond is set at $500,000. No attorney is listed for him in online court records.
A police detective wrote in the probable cause statement that the girl talked to a counselor Wednesday, one day after finding “lots of blood” and glimpsing a body in the basement with a “stab on the back.” She told a forensic interviewer that the face was covered but that the sweater on the body was her mother’s. The girl hadn’t seen her mother since school pickup on Monday.
The girl said she was leaving the basement when she received a call from her mother’s boyfriend, who said he was coming over. She said her father started acting “suspicious,” closing all the blinds and locking the door, according to the probable cause statement, which doesn’t say whether the girl’s father and mother were estranged. A police spokesman, Darin Snapp, said in an email Friday that “as far as we know they still lived together.”
The girl didn’t tell the boyfriend or father what she had seen in the basement. She told the forensic interviewer her father had been acting “weird” and that she “didn’t want to be next,” the detective wrote.
After the girl’s school contacted police, officers went to the home, where Benjamin Byers said he didn’t know his wife’s whereabouts, the detective wrote. Officers found blood throughout the house and a large section of carpet that appeared to have been removed from the dining room.
After obtaining a search warrant, Melissa Byers’ body was found in the basement covered with carpet, plastic, sheets and clothing. Bloody drag marks were seen on the basement stairs. Police also saw signs that efforts had been made to clean up the dining room, living room, kitchen and bathroom.
Byers declined to talk to detectives after the body was found.
Benjamin Byers had been on probation since January after pleading guilty to driving while intoxicated as a persistent offender and serving 30 days in jail, according to court records. Melissa Byers was imprisoned in Missouri from March 2014 to September 2016 after pleading guilty to possession of a controlled substance and forgery.
[Feature image: Kansas City Police/Benjamin Byers]