Police: Deaths of 2 women found posed are linked

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The deaths of two women whose bodies were found posed on the side of rural Missouri roads nearly a year apart are linked, Kansas City police said Friday, and investigators fear there could be more victims if a white pickup truck believed to be related to the deaths isn't tracked down soon.

Tamara Sparks was found dead Oct. 4, 2011, on the far northeast side of Kansas City, and Nicoleone Reed was found Aug. 21 in rural Kearney, northeast of Kansas City. Both bodies were in spots where they could easily be seen, with their pants pulled down and shirts pulled up.

"I believe they were meant to be found," police Sgt. Doug Niemeier said Friday at a news conference.

Niemeier said both Sparks, 40, and Reed, 24, were last seen on St. John Avenue near Independence Avenue in northeast Kansas City, where they worked as prostitutes. He said investigators have contacted other known prostitutes in the area and warned them that someone might be targeting them.

A third woman, who lived on the same street where Sparks and Reed were last seen, was found dumped in late 2011 along the side of a road in Caldwell County, southeast of Cameron. She survived.

Niemeier said police aren't sure she was attacked by the same person, but believe the attacker has other surviving victims who haven't come forward.

Police haven't publicly named a suspect, but released the description of a vehicle they believe was involved in the two deaths: a late 1970s to early 1990s, American-made pickup truck that's white except for a passenger door that has been described as blue or greenish.

Detectives are asking people who live in Clinton, Caldwell, Clay and Dekalb counties — all north of Kansas City — to be on the lookout for the vehicle, based on where the bodies were dumped and the surviving woman was found.

The sites where the bodies of Sparks and Reed were found are accessible from Missouri 92, while Interstate 35 runs between the two crime scenes, Niemeier said. Because of that, police aren't discounting the possibility that the killer could be coming to Kansas City from another state.

"We are absolutely looking at Iowa and Minnesota," police spokesman Capt. Steve Young said, though he didn't think authorities in those two states had been brought into the investigation.

Police believe whoever is responsible for the deaths also is the person who lost a size 11, canvas, Crocs-brand shoe at the site where Sparks' body was found.

Niemeier urged people not to dismiss the deaths of Sparks and Reed.

"Those two women were mothers, they were daughters, they were family members to someone," the police sergeant said. "It doesn't matter what kind of lifestyle someone leads. It doesn't give anyone the right to take their lives."

He said investigators called Friday's news conference to get the public involved before the case reaches serial-killing level.

"We're here to make sure that doesn't happen," Niemeier said.

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