© 2024 University of Missouri - KBIA
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

FBI Seeks Help In Kansas City, Kansas Woman's Death, A 22-Year-Old Cold Case

State and federal authorities in Kansas are seeking the public’s help in identifying those responsible for the unsolved 1998 murder of a Kansas City, Kansas, woman.

The FBI and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation want to know who killed Rhonda Tribue, a 33-year-old mother of six whose body was found during the early morning hours of Oct. 8, 1998.

Tribue, who sometimes went by her maiden name, Rhonda Easley, was discovered in the road in the 500 block of South 94th Street, the border of Kansas City, Kansas, and Edwardsville and a short distance from the Kansas Avenue/Interstate 435 interchange.

Tribue was seen earlier that day at the Firelight Lounge at 18th Street and Parallel Parkway in KCK, where she was known to be a regular. She was wearing a dark purple corduroy jacket, a gold lace top, pumpkin-colored jeans and brown sandals, according to the FBI.

An autopsy showed Tribue died from multiple blows to her head and extremities. The autopsy also said there were indications that her body may have been dragged.

Earlier this year, The Star and KCUR requested from the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department the reports and investigative records of Tribue and several other Black women who were found murdered in Wyandotte County but whose cases remain unsolved.

The KCKPD released only the autopsies of Tribue and the other women and denied access to the remaining records, citing an exemption under Kansas open records laws that keeps files related to ongoing investigations off limits from public view.

On Monday, the KBI referred questions about the Tribue case — why has the agency revived the investigation, and is it related to any previously announced investigation? — to the FBI.

Bridget Patton, an FBI spokeswoman, said Monday that new information had come up, but she couldn’t discuss specifics.

“We are working with the KBI. During the course of the year new information has come to light...during the course of this matter, which is causing us to seek the public’s assistance to see if anybody can remember anything,” she said.

Khadijah Hardaway, a lead organizer with Justice for Wyandotte, said news of the FBI announcements regarding Tribue was “fantastic.”

“I think it’s an eye-opening discovery,” Hardaway said. “This is something the community wants to know: What is the FBI working on.”

Tribue’s name is on a list of more than a dozen murdered Black women from Kansas City, Kansas, that Hardaway keeps. She hopes to gather more information on each of them and bring the cases to justice. Justice for Wyandotte wants the FBI to offer a liaison to the community during its investigation.

“That would help build trust and help some of these victims and advocates come forward,” Hardaway said. “This is a good day for those who can’t speak for themselves.”

Lawyers Cheryl Pilate and Lindsay Runnels also were happy the case was getting attention. They were among a team of lawyers who pursued the exoneration of Lamonte McIntyre, a Kansas City, Kansas, man who served 23 years in prison for a double-homicide he did not commit.

“We are familiar with Rhonda Easley Tribue’s case and the grief and pain suffered by her family. We believe her case — as well as the unsolved cases of 15 or more other women who were killed in the 1990s and 2000s — should be deeply and vigorously investigated,” Pilate and Runnels said in a statement to The Star.

“Why have these cases been abandoned and left untouched for so long? All of these women were loved and valued members of their families and their communities. Their deaths deserve the careful attention of investigative agencies.”

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

 Rhonda Tabue, whose maiden name was Easley
Tabue's family /
Rhonda Tabue, whose maiden name was Easley

Steve Vockrodt
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.
Dan was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. and moved to Kansas City with his family when he was eight years old. He majored in philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis and holds law and journalism degrees from Boston University. He has been an avid public radio listener for as long as he can remember – which these days isn’t very long… Dan has been a two-time finalist in The Gerald Loeb Awards for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism, and has won multiple regional awards for his legal and health care coverage. Dan doesn't have any hobbies as such, but devours one to three books a week, assiduously works The New York Times Crossword puzzle Thursdays through Sundays and, for physical exercise, tries to get in a couple of rounds of racquetball per week.