FBI opens hate crime investigation into murder of woman found in Shawnee home

Friends and family say MeShon Cooper was full of “life, laughter and so much joy.” Photo via GoFundMe.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has opened a hate crime investigation in the murder of MeShon Cooper, a black woman who was found dead inside a Shawnee home earlier this month.

Ronald Lee Kidwell, 47, faces second degree murder charges in the killing of Cooper, who was last seen alive July 6 before being found dead a week later after a joint investigation by the Shawnee, Lenexa and Kansas City, Mo., police departments.

Ronald Kidwell is in Johnson County Jail on murder charges.

Kidwell’s estranged daughter, cousin and neighbor told the Kansas City Star this week that he was an avowed white supremacist. A recent photo of Kidwell shows him wrapping himself in a Confederate flag with a swastika tattooed on the inside of his left bicep.

According to the Star, Kidwell was charged with second-degree assault in a 2011 case stemming from an incident in Clay County when he hit a black woman who was asleep with a hammer and then sexually assaulted her. He did not use a condom although he has been diagnosed with HIV, according to law enforcement’s accounts in the court records.

His daughter, Crystal Kinder, told WDAF this week that her father was “evil” and a “monster” who had exploited her to pay for drugs.

The murder case has attracted international media attention.

Kidwell is being held on $1 million bond in Johnson County Jail. A no-go preliminary hearing in his case is set for 10:30 a.m. Thursday.

Cooper was described by friends and family as full of “life, laughter and so much joy.” Loved ones have organized a GoFundMe campaign for Cooper’s son, who lived with her, to help pay for living expenses and counseling as he copes with her loss.