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Missouri Police Face Scrutiny Over Response To Reports Of Missing And Murdered Black Women

A woman held captive in a basement for month told police that her alleged kidnapper killed two of her friends. Now, authorities are denying reports of an alleged serial killer.

By Constance Johnson
Missouri Woman Tortured For Weeks, Found With Metal Collar On Her Neck

Missouri police are facing questions over the department's response to reports of kidnapped and murdered Black women in the weeks before a woman fled from a basement after being held against her will for a month.

Nearly two weeks ago, a 22-year-old Black woman pounded on locals' doors, begging for help. She was dressed in latex lingerie, a trash bag and had a metal collar around her neck with a padlock. There was also duct tape around her neck, KMBC reported.

She told neighbors that she was held in a small room in a basement, where she was allegedly bound, beaten and repeatedly raped, according to the station.

“It was readily apparent that she had been held against her will for a significant period of time,” Excelsior Springs Lt. Ryan Dowdy said during a news conference on Oct. 7, according to KMBC.

RELATED: Missouri Woman Escapes Weeks-Long Rape, Torture After Alleged Captor Took Child To School

The woman later told police that a man named Timothy had picked her up on Prospect Avenue in early September. She was able to escape when the man took his child to school, according to multiple media outlets.

As Oxygen.com previously reported, Timothy M. Haslett Jr., 39, was arrested and charged with rape, kidnapping and assault of a woman in Excelsior Springs on Oct. 7.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charges. A bond reduction hearing scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 18, was delayed until Nov. 8, and a preliminary hearing is slated for Dec. 2, KMBC reported. He is being held at the Clay County jail on a $500,000 bond and has a public defender.

A police handout of Timothy Haslett, Jr.

The arrest came weeks after the Kansas City Defendera nonprofit media startup, posted a TikTok video alleging that a serial killer was targeting young Black women in the Kansas City area, specifically Prospect Avenue.

Four girls were killed, and three others were missing, according to the video, which didn't include the names of the alleged victims.

Bishop Tony Caldwell said in the video that he was among several members in the community who had reported to police that Black women had been murdered and were missing.

The woman who allegedly escaped from Haslett earlier this month told neighbors that her friends “didn’t make it,” neighbor and eyewitness Ciara Tharp told NBC News.

"She came and knocked on the door, and my grandma opened it, and there was a young Black girl. She didn’t have much on," Tharp said. "My grandma said that she had a metal dog collar around her neck."

Tharp said that the young girl told her grandmother, "My friends didn’t make it. He killed my friends... But she didn’t really say much more about that."

Police have repeatedly dismissed reports of multiple abductions and murders of young Black women.

In September, Kansas City Police Department spokesperson Donna Drake told the Kansas City Star, "There is no basis to support this rumor.”

Then, on Monday, authorities said the Clay County Investigative Squad Task Force was pursuing a connection between Haslett and a possible serial killer, WDAF reported.

“We have checked with law enforcement agencies in the Kansas City metropolitan area and there are no current missing persons reports that correspond with the evidence examined so far in this investigation,” the task force said in a statement, according to WDAF.

The KCPD added in a separate statement to ABC News, "In order to begin a missing person’s investigation, someone would need to file a report with our department identifying the missing party. Again, we notify the media/public anytime our department responds to a homicide in our city and none match, or have been reported to what has been described."

Anyone with information on the case is encouraged to call the Excelsior Springs Police Department at 816-629-7108, or if you would like to remain anonymous, the Tips Hotline at 816 474-TIPS.