A Kansas woman has pleaded guilty to her part in the murder of a young girl who was found dead last year, in a shallow grave on an open trail.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Howard Jansen III, identified as the father of 3-year-old Olivia Jansen, was arrested in July 2020 and initially charged with suspicion of first-degree murder and child abuse. The following day, police arrested his girlfriend, Jacqulyn Kirkpatrick. She was also initially charged with suspicion of first-degree murder and child abuse.
Kirkpatrick pleaded guilty this week to second-degree murder, child abuse, and interference with law enforcement. According to Law & Crime, part of Kirkpatrick’s plea deal requires her to testify against her then-boyfriend, Jansen, who’s still awaiting trial on murder charges.
During the plea hearing, the court heard how Olivia was abused by both Jansen and Kirkpatrick in the months leading up to her death. Prosecutors described how Kirkpatrick would often make Olivia stand up in a corner for hours or keep her locked inside a dog kennel.
Authorities found Olivia deceased after Jansen walked to the police station earlier the same morning to report her missing. Investigators found the child’s body in a wooded area by a walking trail in the 3400 block of Steele Road, only nine blocks from her Kansas City home.
Olivia’s cause and manner of were death was listed as a homicide due to a severe brain bleed. Officials said the child was beaten to death after discovering bruises all over her body and lacerations on her head. Other children in the home told detectives they witnessed Jansen pushing Olivia’s head into the wall.
Kansas City PD spokesperson Tom Tomasic said last year that authorities heard “several stories throughout the day” about Olivia’s disappearance but “none of them made sense.” The initial story Jansen told police was that he woke up at around 5:30 a.m. to find Olivia missing. Jansen said one of the doors in the home had been opened.
According to Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark Dupree, the community helped investigators find the child, but Olivia’s grandfather, Howard Jansen II, said that he asked for help through the Department of Children and Families prior to death.
“Torture, torture, they kept her from us … we called DCF … we knew it was bad but we didn’t know what we are learning now,” Jansen said, according to ABC 9.
Olivia’s grandmother, Elisabeth Jansen, told KSHB 41 that they last saw the child in March 2020. Olivia reportedly didn’t want to go home and wanted her grandparents’ assurance that she could come back to see them.
“She was always so unhappy to go home. She would frown and say, ‘You love me? You’re not mad at me? I come back? I come back?’ [sic] and I told her, ‘I will hurt anybody who that keeps you away from me.’”
Elisabeth added that although they contacted DCF, no one removed Olivia from her father’s care. Olivia’s biological mother was incarcerated at the time on unrelated charges.
“They wouldn’t do anything other than knock at the door–and so I was on the phone with them June 22 for 23 minutes telling them everything I could think of to tell them, and then they sent me an email on Thursday that I can send them more stuff but for me to know they wouldn’t be contacting me.”
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[Feature Photo: Olivia Jansen/Handout]