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Kansas City Man Arrested In Killing Of Three-Year-Old Boy In His Car Seat in 2017

Witness reports, shell casings and a Styrofoam cup were credited with leading to the arrest of a Kansas City man charged in the killing of a three-year-old boy who was shot in his car seat nearly four years ago.

During a virtual press conference more focused on the victim than the alleged shooter, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said three-year-old Marcus Haislip III loved Paw Patrol, Spiderman and Oreo cookies in chocolate milk. He wanted to be a football player when he grew up, she said.

“He was as innocent as they come,” Baker said.

The man accused of the murder is Derrick D. Wren, 28, who was already in federal custody on a gun charge. Now, he's charged with second-degree murder and unlawful use of a weapon.

Marcus was killed in May 2017 in the area of 54th Street and Brookline Ave. while buckled into his car seat. Two other people in the car were also injured, but they drove to Research Medical Center, where Marcus was pronounced dead.

At the time, witnesses told police they saw a man who looked like Wren, wearing a red hoodie, fire a weapon from a porch on Park Avenue where shell casings and a Styrfoam cup were later found by police.

Two years later the Missouri Highway Patrol notified Kansas City Police detectives that DNA from the Styrofoam cup matched Wren, according to a prosecutors’ press release. Then prosecutors said in the fall of 2020, new witnesses told police that Wren confessed to killing Marcus, using a 7.62 mm pistol with a 30-to-50-round clip.

Baker read a statement from Marcus’ mother, who didn’t want to be identified, describing her third child as “such a sweetheart.”

“There were times when I felt I wouldn’t see any progress, so for even making it here, I am grateful,” Baker said, reading from the mother’s statement. “The impact it has left on this family, it is still hard to cope.”

The community needs to remember all the young victims of gunfire, Baker said. In 2020, two other homicide victims were under the age of 10, and there were 20 victims ranging in age from 10-to-20, she said. There were 119 non-fatal shooting victims between ages 10-20, Baker added.

“The murder of a three year old tends to bring us stronger together in our efforts, our quest to get justice,” Baker said. “But we should also remember that there are many other young victims each year.”

Although law enforcement doesn't have a motive for the shooting, Baker pleaded for Kansas Citians to settle conflicts through other ways than violence, including conflict resolution and drug treatment.

“We’ve got to find another way than to pick up a gun and settle our disputes,” she said.

Copyright 2021 KCUR 89.3. To see more, visit KCUR 89.3.

Marcus Haislip III, who was three when he was killed, wanted to grow up to be a football player.
Jackson County Prosecutor /
Marcus Haislip III, who was three when he was killed, wanted to grow up to be a football player.

Peggy Lowe joined Harvest Public Media in 2011, returning to the Midwest after 22 years as a journalist in Denver and Southern California. Most recently she was at The Orange County Register, where she was a multimedia producer and writer. In Denver she worked for The Associated Press, The Denver Post and the late, great Rocky Mountain News. She was on the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news coverage of Columbine. Peggy was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan in 2008-09. She is from O'Neill, the Irish Capital of Nebraska, and now lives in Kansas City. Based at KCUR, Peggy is the analyst for The Harvest Network and often reports for Harvest Public Media.