Posted on Thu, Oct. 11, 2007 11:33 AM

Police say no suspect yet in Summer Shipp’s death

By KEVIN HOFFMANN

The Kansas City Star

A smaller gathering of searchers this morning returned to the site where the remains of Summer Ship were found, but police said it was still too early to determine who may have killed her.

Police are still looking for clues in her death and continue to find items at the site, but would not say whether any of them were helpful in the case. Authorities have not said how the 54-year-old Kansas City woman died. But they are treating her death as a crime.

This morning, police would not say whether the evidence they have recovered pointed to a suspect.

“It’s premature at this point to say that we’re looking at any person of interest, certainly not a suspect,” Independence Police spokesman Tom Gentry said today.

Shipp disappeared in 2004 while doing door-to-door work in Independence, Fishermen found a skull Sunday in the Little Blue River, which authorities later identified as Shipp’s through dental records.

More bones and clothing were found later and Wednesday scores of searchers combed the site near Missouri 78 and Missouri 7.

The number of searchers this morning was far smaller than Wednesday’s contingent. Wednesday’s effort included cadets from the local police academy who walked side-by-side after dividing the area into grids. Searchers on horseback and others in a police helicopter also played roles. Ronda Montgomery, a spokeswoman for the Jackson County Sheriff Office, indicated that the group was able to complete the biggest part of the search Wednesday.

“Yesterday we had an enormous amount of people out here to do a vast search,” said Ronda Montgomery, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman. “We don’t need that number of people today.

She said today searchers continued to drain a portion of the river after using sandbags for dams. Investigators will then use their hands to dig through the silt.

To reach Kevin Hoffmann, call 816-234-7801 or send e-mail to khoffmann@kcstar.com. See The Kansas City Star on Friday for more community news.