Nearly two months after 44-year-old Ebony Duncan mysteriously disappeared near her workplace in Independence, authorities say they believe her body has been found in a wooded area in south Kansas City.
Family of the Independence woman, a mother to three adult children, have been searching for answers since early September. On Tuesday, detectives visited the area of 83rd Street and Hillcrest Road with cadaver dogs while operating on information received through a tip.
A body located in the woods there was consistent with identifiers of Duncan, said officer Jack Taylor, an Independence police spokesman. A formal positive identification was being conducted by the Jackson County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Police have suspected foul play since soon after Duncan was reported missing Sept. 7 when she did not show up for work. Detectives spoke with one of her co-workers who told them an ex-boyfriend had been sending threatening messages to Duncan.
Detectives also found that Duncan, a certified nursing assistant, had last been seen on a surveillance camera the day before getting inside a silver-colored sedan a short distance from her work in the 19200 block of East 37th Terrace.
Based on witness statements, surveillance footage, digital phone records and license-plate-reading camera information, Independence detectives came to suspect Duncan’s ex-boyfriend, Charles Smith-Howell, may have kidnapped her.
The 41-year-old man has not been charged with a crime related to Duncan’s disappearance, though he remains held in federal custody without bond on a felony charge of illegally possessing ammunition.
He was arrested by Independence SWAT in mid-September after he was tailed and followed by a police helicopter to a parking lot in Kansas City at Drury and Thompson avenues. Inside the Buick SUV he was driving, police reported finding the license plate registered to a vehicle suspected of being the one Duncan was last seen entering.
Police also reported finding a gun magazine loaded with 12 rounds of ammunition, which was the basis for the federal weapons charge.
As of Wednesday, Independence police continued to search for a 42-year-old woman described as Smith-Howell’s current girlfriend to speak with her concerning the investigation. Authorities say efforts to locate her have been unsuccessful for nearly two months.
Independence police were asking for anyone with information about the investigation to contact the TIPS Hotline anonymously at 816-474-TIPS.