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Mystery deepens over Kansas City men found dead in friend’s frozen backyard

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Mystery deepens over Kansas City men found dead in friend’s frozen backyard

As an attorney for the HIV researcher Jordan Willis tells it, his client hosted four friends at his home on 7 January to watch their home town Kansas City Chiefs win a football game on television, said goodbye to them and went to sleep.

Three of those men soon died in the home’s back yard in freezing weather without him even realising it, and their bodies were found days later – by someone other than Willis.

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Now Willis is grappling with public scrutiny and “anxiously” awaiting the results of tests aiming to determine what substances may have been in his late friends’ blood and whether any played a role in their seemingly mysterious deaths, according to his lawyer.

“Jordan is unaware of how his friends died,” Willis’s attorney, John Picerno, said in a statement distributed to various news outlets. “Like the rest of us, Jordan is anxiously awaiting the results of the autopsy and toxicology” tests performed on his friends.

Willis has been the target of rumors from internet sleuths and other online users since his friends Clayton McGeeney, 36; David Harrington, 37; and Ricky Johnson, 38, were found dead in his backyard on 9 January.

He has also faced skepticism from the families of the late men over whether Willis is being totally forthcoming about what happened.

Two days before their bodies were found, McGeeney, Harrington and Johnson went to Willis’s to watch the Chiefs defeat the Los Angeles Chargers.

Picerno maintains his client, a 38-year-old protein scientist, went to bed while his friends and a fourth guest lingered in his home, wishing them a good night and getting in bed at the end of a day whose low temperature was 29F (-1.6C).

The fourth guest, whose name has not been publicly released, has said McGeeney, Harrington and Johnson were still conscious when he left Willis’s home. The fourth guest insisted to the local news outlet WDAF-TV that he was not the last person to see McGeeney, Harrington and Johnson alive, despite what Willis has suggested.

Whatever the case, temperatures remained below freezing during the next two days while Willis worked from home and believed his friends left safely, Picerno’s statement said. During that time, Picerno said, Willis did not receive any calls or texts from people looking for his friends, who had not been heard from since going to Willis’s home.

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Picerno’s statement said Willis did not immediately see one direct message sent to him on social media about at least one of the disappearances, according to the Kansas City Star newspaper.

The statement said Willis failed to notice when a couple of people came over looking for the men, because he wore earphones and kept a loud fan on while sleeping.

The cars of two of the missing men were parked on his street, but Picerno said Willis just did not see them. Even if he had, Picerno said, Willis would not have thought it was unusual for his friends to leave their cars behind overnight.

Picerno said Willis did not realise his friends had died until after police showed up at his door. McGeeney’s fiancee had broken into Willis’s basement and found the corpse of one of his friends on his back porch, police told reporters, as the Kansas City Star reported.

She called police out to Willis’s home, and they discovered the bodies of his two other friends.

Investigators have said they found no obvious signs of violence at or near Willis’s home, and a Kansas City police captain told Fox News Digital the case was not being treated as a triple homicide.

However, authorities said they would need to get the results of autopsies and toxicology tests to determine the causes and manners of death for Harrington, McGeeney and Johnson.

Picerno directly addressed speculation over whether his client’s friends may have died from drug overdoses, telling the New York Post: “There is a chance of everything.”

The attorney told KCTV that Willis had moved out, deactivated his social media, and gone on leave from work to grieve for Harrington, McGeeney and Johnson.

In media interviews, family members of the dead men have said they do not believe they have heard the whole truth from Willis, who expressed sympathy to them in Picerno’s statement.

“None of the stories are adding up about what he’s saying,” Adriana Juarez, the mother of Johnson’s son, said to KCTV. “How do you not know there are three bodies on the back porch?”

McGeeney’s cousin, Caleb McGeeney, told WDAF-TV: “Just the thought of [them] dying and them … sitting outside in the cold for two days [is] extremely devastating.”

He added: “Somebody has to end up in custody over it, regardless of any situation. They are at your house, and three people are dead.”

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