Man killed on Thanksgiving suspected in 3rd death

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City police believe a man who killed his wife and her teenage goddaughter before officers fatally wounded him in a Thanksgiving Day shootout might have killed a third woman in a quest to get money to buy crack cocaine.

The Kansas City Star (http://bit.ly/u4RxLL) reported Tuesday that Denise Hall, 56, was found shot to death in her home Saturday afternoon, and that police believe she was killed at least two days earlier.

Police said Hall was an acquaintance of Jerry Petty, 64, who killed his wife, Loretta Petty, 53, and their goddaughter, 16-year-old Deja Davis, in his home on Thanksgiving while the two were preparing dinner for the family's holiday meal.

Friends of Jerry and Loretta Petty think Jerry Petty robbed Hall for money to buy crack. Police found paraphernalia in his home, and said they thought Petty had been pawning items recently for drug money.

Deja's brother was sent to the Petty home around 9:30 p.m. after his mother could not reach Deja or Loretta Petty all day and the two didn't show up for dinner.

The brother found a broken window and called Jerry Petty to find out what happened, police said. Petty told him he was not home and for the brother to stay outside, but police believe Petty was in the home with the bodies and was trying to stage a burglary.

The brother called police, who went into the home and found Petty sitting on a couch. Petty opened fire on officers, who were pinned down in a laundry room and exchanged fire with him through the wall, according to police reports.

Petty fled out the front door and ran down the block before circling back behind his home, where he encountered more officers, who shot him. Police said they didn't know if he had been hit during the first exchange of gunfire, and no officers were wounded.

A friend of the Pettys, Donald Ousley Jr., said Loretta was a recovering alcoholic who was only weeks away from celebrating 20 years of sobriety. Ousley said he met her in 2002 when she helped him with his community outreach program for drug addicts, Put Down the Pipe.

She had earned a doctorate in mental health education, and she worked in a hospital helping patients with drug and alcohol issues, Ousley said.

"She was a firm believer in education," he said. "She had overcome her own personal demons. ... In the recovery community, she was greatly loved. A lot of people are just as sad and confused about it as they are angry."

Jerry Petty worked as a drug abuse counselor before being hired by Habitat for Humanity to do maintenance work, and he recently relapsed into crack cocaine, Ousley said.

"He is an example of just how drastic the mood and mind can be altered with drugs," Ousley said. "None of us could ever have imagined that he could do these things. It's a shock to all of us."

Deja was a junior in high school, where officials described her as an excellent student who was part of the debate team.

Her mother, Stephanie Davis, said she was moved by the large group of Deja's classmates who showed up Monday for a prayer vigil in her memory.

"She touched a lot of people's lives that I didn't know she touched," Davis said.


Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com

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