Search for clues in Summer Shipp death scaled down

October 11, 2007

The Kansas City Star

The search for clues into the death of Summer Shipp continued Thursday, though with a much smaller contingent.

Authorities said they had searched most of a two- to three-mile area surrounding the Little Blue River near Missouri 78 and Missouri 7, where fishermen on Sunday found a skull that authorities later identified as Shipp’s.

Since then, searchers have gathered at the site daily seeking more evidence. They have recovered many items, but have not said whether any of them were helpful in the case.

While police have said they are treating the Kansas City woman’s death as a crime, they would not say whether evidence 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,” said Independence police spokesman Tom Gentry.

Members of the media were allowed to photograph part of the search area for the first time Thursday afternoon. Earlier in the day, investigators drained part of the river to allow them to inspect the silt for clues that might have sunk into the riverbed.

Shipp was 54 when she disappeared Dec. 8, 2004, while conducting a door-to-door survey in Independence. She was last seen walking to a house nearly 10 miles from where her remains were found.

The Jackson County sheriff’s office and Independence Police Department are investigating the case, but the search has included many agencies, including cadets from a local police academy, the Missouri Water Patrol and members of Lee’s Summit Underwater Recovery.

A forensic anthropologist also has been called in to help work the case.

To reach Kevin Hoffmann, call 816-234-7801 or send e-mail to



Summer Shipp