This year marks a decade since the abduction and murder Kelsey Smith, who graduated from Shawnee Mission West just nine days before her death. As her parents Greg and Missey reflect on the tragedy that stripped them of their beloved daughter, they take some heart in the work the organization founded in her name has been able to do to educate students and law enforcement agents about steps they can take to prevent people from being victims themselves.
On Monday, The Kelsey Smith Foundation will hold its annual golf classic to raise money for the group’s work.
Greg Smith was in law enforcement for two decades before Kelsey’s death. In the aftermath of the murder, he began reviewing safety training programs in circulation, and found little geared toward youths, specifically those between ages 13 and 24.
“That’s when people are most at-risk for being the victim of violent crime,” said Missey. “So we thought, we need to try to get some kind of training and safety education.”
The Smiths worked to develop a curriculum that they could deliver to high schoolers and other youth to teach them the basics of safety awareness. Today, the foundation has delivered safety trainings to thousands and thousands of youth and young adults.
The foundation also works with law enforcement agencies to teach officers about what lessons from Kelsey’s case can be applied to future investigations. Missey notes that “there was a lot that went right” in Kelsey’s case, which led to the arrest and conviction of her killer on charges of kidnapping, rape, sodomy and capital murder.
For example, as soon as investigators identified the Overland Park Target as the possible location of her abduction, they quickly sought the surveillance camera footage from the parking lot. Had they waited even a few minutes later, that vital evidence might have been lost.
“Had they gotten there even 15 minutes later, the camera would have taped over itself,” Missey said.
While nothing can fill the hole left by the loss of their daughter, the Smiths take solace in the fact that the lessons learned from Kelsey’s case are helping young people stay safer and law enforcement track down violent criminals.
“We learned a lot from Kelsey’s case, and we’ve been able to share those lessons,” Missey said. “People are doing things better because of Kelsey and Kelsey’s case.”
People interested in participating in Monday’s golf event at Falcon Ridge Golf Course are encouraged to register here. There will likely be a few spots available the morning of the tournament, as well.