Former law enforcement official stresses importance of toxicology report in mysterious deaths of Chiefs fans
Former Kansas Bureau of Investigation agent Currie Myers joined ‘America’s Newsroom’ to discuss the latest on the case involving the unexpected deaths of three Kansas City Chiefs fans.
Mystery shrouds the deaths of three Kansas City Chiefs fans found dead in their friend’s snowy backyard after a Jan. 7 NFL watch party.
Jordan Willis hosted the gathering in his Northwest 83rd Terrace home. After Ricky Johnson, 38, Clayton McGeeney, 36, and David Harrington, 37, were found dead on his property two days later, he reportedly told family members that his friends “froze to death,” a victim’s family member told FOX4 Kansas City.
Willis has since moved out of the home “in fear of retaliation,” according to his attorney John Picerno.
Willis is not considered a suspect and has not been charged with a crime – the Kansas City Police Department said last week that “this case is 100% not being investigated as a homicide,” and added on Friday that they “do not anticipate any additional information released prior to the findings of the medical examiner.”
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David Harrington, far left, Clayton McGeeney, second from right, and Ricky Johnson, right, were found dead in their friend’s backyard two days after they had gathered to watch the Kansas City Chiefs playoff game. (Ricky Johnson on Facebook)
“It is still the case that the ruling on the cause of death is the next piece to determine any needed additional investigative tasks,” Captain Jacob Becchina told Fox News Digital on Friday, adding that every major news outlet across the country had lodged at least one inquiry about the case with their communications department.
A spokesperson for Frontier Forensics Midwest, the private company contracted by Platte County to carry out autopsies, told Fox News that the results of the men’s toxicology reports will take 6 to 8 weeks to process, while their full autopsy reports won’t be released for another 10 to 12 weeks.
Experts have told Fox News Digital that a drug laced with fentanyl could have contributed to their deaths, or a drug like K2 that can be mistaken for marijuana and cause an overheating sensation that may have led the men to jump into the snow before passing out.
The autopsies have already been carried out, the worker confirmed, with two of the men’s family members saying their deceased loved ones had already been cremated.
When asked about discrepancies in one of his previous statements, Picerno told Fox News Digital on Thursday that he is “not making any more public statements until the autopsy has been completed.” Picerno’s account of his client’s final hours with the three men – and the subsequent 48 hours when the victim’s family members allegedly tried to contact him repeatedly when they hadn’t heard from their loved ones – has changed multiple times.
Family and friends of Clayton McGeeney, left, David Harrington, center, and Ricky Johnson, right, are clamoring for answers after the three men inexplicably died in freezing temperatures outside their friend’s Kansas City home. (Facebook)
A gruesome discovery
After she was unable to reach her partner or Willis by phone, McGeeney’s fiancee reportedly drove to Willis’ Northland residence on Jan. 9 and banged on the door.
When she got no answer, she broke in, announcing her presence and shouting Willis’ name inside. Picerno told Fox News Digital that his client did not hear the knocks at his door or the woman breaking in.
There, she stumbled upon one of the men’s bodies on the back porch. She called police, who arrived at the scene around 8:51 p.m.
“Officers responded to the back porch and confirmed there was a dead body,” the Kansas City Police Department wrote in a press release. “Upon further investigation, officers located two other dead bodies in the backyard. There were no obvious signs of foul play observed at or near the crime scene.”
FAMILY OF KANSAS CITY CHIEFS FAN FOUND DEAD OUTSIDE PAL’S HOUSE THINKS HE WAS DRUGGED
McGeeney’s fiancée found one of the men dead on Jordan Willis’ back porch, pictured. (Delbert Shaw for Fox News Digital)
McGeeney’s fiancee told Fox News Digital that she had “answered any questions the detectives have had and will continue to do so,” and would not comment further.
At least one of the men, Johnson, wasn’t wearing his coat – his father told Fox News Digital that “he never would have gone outside without a coat.”
Picerno confirmed accounts on social media that his client answered the door for police with a wine glass in hand – however, he said that the wine glass had been used for its intended purpose the night before and contained just water at the time.
He said that, although Willis slept through the break in, he was awoken by police outside and was underdressed because he had been sleeping.
Willis was “cooperative with detectives the day the deceased were discovered,” the Kansas City Police Department said; Picerno told Fox News Digital that Willis allowed them to search his home without a warrant and with no lawyer present.
Ross Nigro, an attorney retained by Johnson’s family, told Fox News Digital that police carried out a second search with a warrant on Jan. 11. The Kansas City Police Department did not confirm this, citing an active investigation.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS FANS DEATHS: DRUGS, FREEZING WEATHER COULD HAVE CREATED LETHAL CONDITIONS, EXPERTS SAY
An exterior view of the backyard and porch of Jordan Willis’s home in Kansas City, Missouri on Friday, Jan. 26, 2024. The bodies of Willis’ three friends – Ricky Johnson, Clayton McGeeney, and David Harrington – were found in Willis’ backyard, with one body found on the porch, on Jan. 9, 2024, two days after attending a Kansas City Chiefs watch party at the home. (Delbert Shaw for Fox News Digital)
The night of the game
McGeeney, Harrington, Johnson and Willis all attended Park Hill High School together, friends told Fox News Digital. Picerno’s attorney said that his client was high school friends with two of the men and had met the other man about four years earlier.
Alan McGeeney told The Kansas City Star that his cousin mentioned that he would be watching the Chiefs game with friends while they were working a flooring job together earlier on Jan. 7.
Initially, Picerno told outlets that there were just four men in Willis’ house that night. But on Jan. 23, the attorney told FOX4 Kansas City that he misspoke, saying that a fifth man had watched the game with them.
That man, who has not been named and has since hired a criminal defense attorney, told the outlet that he was not the last person to see the men alive, and that all four were awake and watching “Jeopardy” when he left the house around midnight.
Picerno said later on, his client walked McGeeney, Johnson and Harrington out of his house and went to sleep on his couch.
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Jordan Willis has moved out of the house on Northwest 83rd Terrace in Kansas City, pictured, since the incident. (Delbert Shaw for Fox News Digital)
Days without contact
Family members told Fox News Digital that they knew something was awry when their loved ones never returned home or showed up for work, respectively, the day after the Chiefs game against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Johnson never showed up for work at his family’s construction company that Monday. After repeated attempts to reach him, his father Rickie Johnson Sr. told Fox News Digital, his family worked to find the address where his son watched the game.
A friend of the three men, Kaylee La Tier, wrote in a Facebook post that her husband “banged on [Willis’s] door for 20 minutes.” Lyndsey Rae Baldwin wrote that she and other friends had attempted to contact Willis for 24 hours with no response.
Attorney Andrew Talge, who is representing the fifth man at the gathering, said that his client texted Willis after McGeeney’s fiancée and Johnson’s mother had contacted him about their missing loved ones.
3 KANSAS CITY CHIEFS FANS FOUND FROZEN OUTSIDE HOME OF FRIEND WHO HAD ‘NO KNOWLEDGE’ OF DEATHS: LAWYER
Ricky Johnson’s mother, Norma Chester, is pictured with her son and one of his three children above. She contacted the fifth man at the watch party when she could not reach Johnson or Willis and had not seen her son in two days, attorney Andrew Talge said. (Norma Chester)
Jennifer Marquez, Harrington’s mother, told Fox News Digital that her son uncharacteristically never responded to her Sunday text message.
Picerno has denied these claims, saying “none of those people called him on his cellphone.”
“One of them, I believe it was the fiancée, did send him a message on Facebook Messenger. But he didn’t receive it until after police had,” he said.
The three men’s cars were also parked outside Willis’ house – his attorney told Fox News Digital that they were in the street, not his client’s driveway, and that it wasn’t atypical for his friends to leave their cars there. Because his client did not go outside, he said, he did not notice the cars.
In the days after the game
Picerno’s account of what Willis did in the days before police arrived has varied between interviews with different news outlets.
He told the New York Post that his client slept for 48 hours after his friends left. He later clarified to Fox News Digital that Willis slept for “a lot” of the next two days – not necessarily through the entire period – and did so with noise-canceling headphones and a loud fan that prevented him from hearing knocks at his door.
Picerno also noted that his client works from home, although it is still unclear whether he was working in the days after the deadly Chiefs watch party.
Ricky Johnson, pictured alongside his father Rickie Johnson Sr., and his children. (Provided by Johnson family )
“That part makes no sense to me,” said Jonathan Price, Johnson’s brother, in an interview with Fox & Friends. “Especially when, it seems like you’re a responsible individual, a responsible enough individual to… gain a Ph.D. … in what seems like a very complicated science… If you’re one of those type of people in order… to sleep all day on a Monday, which I assume was a work day, if you’re working from home… I don’t know how that is possible. I definitely wouldn’t be able to do that.”
Dr. Michael Baden told Fox News Digital that Willis’ story of sleeping through all or most of 48 hours could make sense if the men had taken a drug like fentanyl.
“If these four people all took it together, the guy on the couch sleeps it off for a long time, whereas the three who went outside disoriented, maybe didn’t have on their coats. Because of the freezing weather, it [could be] a combination of the drugs and hypothermia that caused their death.”
Willis has two dogs, begging the question of how he could have gone two days without letting them outside during the two days the men laid dead in his backyard.
While Picerno said that the animals were staying with Willis’ father during that period, Nigro told Fox News Digital that another individual who was at the house that night – possibly the fifth man – recalled that the dogs were present.
Who is Jordan Willis?
Willis, a Virginia native, graduated with a Ph.D. in chemical and physical Biology from Vanderbilt University in 2014. He previously studied chemistry and molecular biology at Northwest Missouri State University.
According to an interview that Willis gave to the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative’s website in 2022, he is the senior principal scientist at the IAVI Neutralizing Antibody Center in Kansas City.
Picerno confirmed that his client worked at IAVI, and said he was taking a leave of absence in light of recent events.
In 2022, Willis earned a Young Investigator Award from the Scripps Consortium for HIV/AIDS, according to the initiative’s website, for his “significant contributions to HIV vaccine development.”
In the intro section to his now-deleted Facebook page, Willis said he was “walking the line to be the funnest guy in the room and a full-on mental breakdown.”
Who were Clayton McGeeney, Ricky Johnson and David Harrington?
Clayton McGeeney has one daughter, according to his obituary, and loved traveling the country on his Harley. One high school friend told Fox News Digital that he was known for riding his skateboard around town in their younger years.
He had installed flooring for 20 years, had been engaged to his fiancée for 12 and was a “hard worker and a sharp shooter,” his obituary read.
Ricky Johnson was the father of three girls, aged 2, 9 and 14, who “loved him to death,” according to his father, Rickie Johnson Sr. The Johnson father and son owned a construction business together, the family said. Johnson’s mother, Norma Chester, told Fox News Digital that he was “a very good person.”
Harrington’s mother told Fox News Digital he could “make you pass out laughing” and would “give you the shirt off his back.” (FOX4 KC)
“He was a good father, a good brother, a good son, a good uncle. He was not a bad guy. He had the best smile,” Chester said earlier this week.
David Harrington could make you “almost pass out laughing,” according to his mother, Jennifer Marquez. He was a stepfather to his girlfriend’s two children, according to his obituary, and a little league baseball coach.
His father, Jon Harrington, called him a “rabid” Kansas City Chiefs fan who also loved the Texas Longhorns. His celebration of life, the father said, was an 80-person-strong watch party of the Chiefs game against the Buffalo Bills on Jan. 21.
“Whenever the Chiefs would make a drive, they were all chanting my son’s name. I will never forget that for the rest of my life,” the elder Harrington recalled.
Jennifer Marquez, Harrington’s mother, said that her son was the “best person [she has] ever known” and that she do whatever she could to “find out what happened that night.” (FOX4 KC)
“His favorite thing in the world was to make other people happy and he did that,” Marquez said of her son. “I envy my son – he’s the best person I’ve ever known.”
In light of the suspicious circumstances surrounding their sons’ deaths and Willis’ background in science, two of the three affected families have come forward with accusations that he played an active role in their deaths.
“Seriously, these were responsible men. How do they go in a backyard and freeze to death, all three of them?” Chester, Johnson’s mother, told Fox News Digital. “Something that comes to my mind: This guy wants to brag about how smart he is, he’s a scientist. My thoughts are that he concocted something and gave it to all three men. I know I’m just thinking, but how could this have happened?”
“I think that Jordan guy drug[ged] them, because they were picking on him. In a nice way … but I think that’s what happened,” Johnson Sr. told Fox News Digital.
Harrington’s father echoed their suspicions, telling Fox News Digital that he is “not buying” Willis’ story and “doesn’t believe anything [Willis’] attorney says.”
“[Harrington’s mother] and I are both convinced that Jordan Willis played a part in this somehow,” the elder Harrington said on Thursday. “We just haven’t figured out how yet. … What else could it be? Perfectly healthy men don’t just drop off the face of the earth.”
“I’m thinking that he, the three of them learned something or saw something that they shouldn’t have seen, and he decided ‘well, I need to get rid of you now,’ friends or not,” he said on Thursday.
Marquez, Harrington’s mother, told Fox News Digital that although her son “smoked cigarettes and drank beers with his friends,” she doesn’t believe he overdosed, and that “Jordan [is going to] have everything to do with what we find out” about his death.
“Yes, I believe that something happened that night and that Jordan had something to do with it,” Marquez said. “We all believe that Jordan had something to do with that.”
Willis’ attorney has called the families’ theories “ridiculous.”
“He’s a scientist, and somehow he’s to blame? That’s an opinion not based in fact,” the attorney said in response to Chester’s comments.
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“There’s no allegation of any animosity between Jordan and his three friends,” Picerno told Fox News Digital on Tuesday. “People want to speculate, [but] it’s not like anyone ever called the police saying, ‘We’re afraid of this Jordan guy.'”
Willis’ father also refuted these claims in an interview outside his home with The New York Post, saying his son “didn’t do anything wrong.”
“He would never in a million years do anything,” Rodney Willis told the Post on Thursday.
“These were all good friends of his, these were all people he went to school with, and he took them to a football game the day before for the Chiefs,” Willis’ dad said Thursday outside his home in Kansas City.
Christina Coulter is a U.S. and World reporter for Fox News Digital. Email story tips to [email protected].