Woman charged with arson after admitting to setting Independence Towers fire

Fire damage sustained at Independence Towers on June 17, 2024, after firefighters were called out to douse an early morning blaze in a second floor apartment which displaced tenants in 27 apartment units over three floors.

A woman who confessed to starting a destructive fire at Independence Towers early Monday has been charged with arson, according to court documents.

Destiny R. Kley, 22, was charged in Jackson County court with first-degree arson Friday. She is being held on a $50,000 bond, and has been ordered to stay at least 1,000 feet away from Independence Towers, according to charging documents.

Kley was a resident of Independence Towers. She allegedly started the fire in the kitchen of her second-floor apartment, according to court documents. Fire officials responded to the blaze around 4:15 a.m. Monday.

Kley reportedly told police investigators that she set the fire with the intention of killing herself, as well as destroying the property that she and her husband shared, according to court records. Her husband, with whom Kley shared the apartment at 728 N Jennings Rd, was arrested three hours before the fire after Kley called Independence police to report domestic violence.

After the arrest, Kley told police investigators that she drank a bottle of vodka, smashed several glass items, overturned furniture and threw some of her husband’s things out the window.

Kley said she then poured cleaning fluid in a pattern around the kitchen stove and turned on the stove, starting the blaze, according to court documents.

Independence fire investigators confirmed the fire was caused by someone pouring and then igniting flammable liquid, according to court documents.

The fire did not go past Kley’s apartment, and no one was injured, including Kley, the Star reported. However, the Independence city manager’s office declared the first and second floors, along with the basement, condemned due to smoke and fire damage.

The Star previously reported that 27 residents across three floors of the apartment building were displaced by the fire. Among the displaced were every resident of the first and second floors, according to court documents.

Displaced residents were temporarily housed by the Red Cross, The Star reported.

At least five people were home on the second floor when the fire was set, according to court documents. Eighty-three of the building’s 122 units had been rented out at the time.

After the fire, Kley admitted herself to Centerpoint Medical Center, where she was arrested, according to court documents.

Since no one died in the fire, Kley could face five to 15 years in prison if convicted. If the fire had been fatal, she could have faced 10 to 30 years.

Independence Towers troubles

Monday’s devastating fire was just one of a series of issues Independence Towers has faced lately, despite recent turnover in ownership and management.

In March, some residents joined a renters’ union organized by KC Tenants, spurred on in part by serious pest problems. Along with rats and cockroaches, Independence Tower residents alleged sporadic access to hot water, along with long periods without heat in the winter or air conditioning in the summer.

Residents launched a protest on May 2nd, against management company FTW Investments, which oversaw Independence Towers at the time. FTW and co-founder Parker Webb were ousted later that month by order of a Jackson County judge for violating their loan agreement on the building.

New owners Trigild Inc., and Trigild vice president Nancy Daniels, failed to meet a demand by unionized tenants to turn on the building’s air conditioning by June 11.

On Thursday, The Independence Towers Tenant Union, along with the KC Tenants Union, brought TriGild Inc. and Daniels to the negotiating table, seeking to resolve their complaints over living conditions in the building.

Previous reporting by Noelle Alviz-Gransee and Caroline Zimmerman was used in this article.