Stacey Quinn had a hard life — there’s just no other way to say it.
She was born into the large extended Quinn family near Klamm Park in Kansas City, Kansas, in 1968. Her mother, Josephine Quinn, suffered from mental health problems and was in and out of her daughters’ lives from the time they were young.
But Stacey’s little sister Niko, the baby of the three Quinn girls, smiles when she remembers their childhood. Stacey was four years older than her, and Lela was in the middle. The girls liked to pretend they were musical sister acts.
“We used to act like we were basically Jacksons,” Niko says. “Or maybe the Braxton sisters. We all sit there and sing together, play church. When my mom got sick, Stacey always act like the mama. She took that place. Her and Lela. They were both like my mother.”
The girls were taken in by their grandmother, Cinderella Quinn, who made sure they went to school and church. But around age 16, Stacey started using drugs.
“She became a whole ’nother person,” Niko says. “But she was the sweetest person you wanted to know when she wasn't on the drugs.”
Niko says Stacey started with wet, or PCP, and ended up on crack — partly as a way to deal with the sexual trauma she experienced during childhood.
“We had two uncles that used to rape us when we were little,” Niko explains. Stacey took it the hardest, she says, “’cause she used to try to protect me and my other sister and they used to beat her up.”
Stacey tried to make a life for herself. She wanted to become a nurse and was working as a certified nursing assistant for a while. Niko says Stacey hoped to become a licensed practical nurse, but the drugs got the better of her.
'He started putting her in jail'
When she was around 15, Stacey had a son. She named him Jornelle.
Jornelle Quinn remembers they moved around a lot when he was a kid. Lots of times they’d stay with his grandmother, Josephine, or his great-grandmother, Cinderella, or with his aunties. There was an especially good few years around the time Jornelle was 10, when Stacey had a boyfriend named Cleveland.
Jornelle never knew the boyfriend's last name, but says he was a nice guy. They all lived in a big old house, and Jornelle had all the video games he wanted. Like a real family. For a while.
“My mama started using again and she was, um, I guess acting crazy or something,” Jornelle remembers. “He didn't want her to go, but she was just like, she wanted to leave. And yep, they broke up.”
Jornelle had also seen his mother riding around town with a white cop: Kansas City, Kansas, Police detective Roger Golubski.
“I'll be out playing basketball or something and she'll be like, ‘That's my son right there. Punky.’ That's what she used to call me. And he said, ‘Hi,’ you know.”
That was the first time Jornelle saw his mother with Golubski.
“The second time he was riding by and … I guess he was dropping (her) off at my grandma's and I'll be like right down the street, playing basketball with my friends," Jornelle says. "And, uh, he just honk his horn and wave at me.”
Golubski started preying on Stacey when she was about 15 or 16 years old, according to her family.
Niko and her sister Lela say Stacey first crossed paths with Golubski when she was walking home one day after work, and he picked her up and raped her.
“I was told from my sister that they started messing around,” Niko says. “(Lela) said they had a relationship, ‘cause she was saying that he had arrested her for prostitution back in the early ‘90s — late ‘80s, early ‘90s. That's when he started putting her in jail. Maybe it was something he wanted that she wouldn't do, or she wouldn't give him.”
Stacey’s aunt, Freda Quinn, said Stacey’s involvement with Golubski was common knowledge among the Quinns. In a 2011 affidavit, Freda Quinn said Golubski would pick up Stacey at her mother’s house, she’d be gone a few days, then come home with new clothes and money.
Golubski, however, didn’t divulge the relationship in police records — a fact that would become evident on April 15, 1994, the day of the double murder on Hutchings Street.
‘Oh my God, that’s little Don. Oh my God.’
That day, Stacey Quinn had what might have been the best view of the double murder. She was in the house and heard yelling coming from the driveway. It was her mother arguing with her uncle. She went to the door to tell her mom to come inside, but her mother ignored her.
That’s when Stacey saw a man dressed in black carrying a shotgun coming down the hill, walking towards a 1987 powder-blue Cadillac DeVille idling on the street.
Inside were her cousin, 21-year-old Doniel Quinn — everyone called him Little Don — and another man, 34-year-old Donald Ewing, known as Donnie, also a distant relative. The man with the shotgun fired into the car three times.
Niko remembers her sister coming out onto the porch and screaming.
“And she started holding her head, said, ‘Oh my God, that’s little Don. Oh my God.’”
By that time, all the Quinns were outside, just a few feet from the Cadillac. Niko describes Stacey as “going ballistic.”
She was just a few feet away from the double murder, but Golubski, the lead detective on the case, never interviewed her. His police report sounded as if he didn’t even know her.
Instead, Golubski turned to two other eyewitnesses — Niko Quinn and Ruby Mitchell — to send an innocent man, Lamonte McIntyre, to prison for 23 years.
Niko, who recanted her false testimony after McIntyre was convicted in an unsuccessful effort to get him freed, remembers her big sister being there when she was waiting with Golubski to testify at McIntyre’s trial.
“We were sitting in that room and he was telling me that he heard that I was a dancer,” Niko says of Golubski. “He wanted me to stand on the table and strip and (said) he wanted to get to know me. And my sister was telling him — she kind of like put her hand in front of me — and she was telling him ‘This one right here, you gonna leave alone.’ And she told me don't ever go around here because he was the devil. She called him a snake.”
As Niko Quinn made attempts to get McIntyre released, Stacey tried to help — even from lockup in Jefferson County, Kansas, where she was in 1996, when she filed an affidavit saying she saw everything on April 15, 1994.
“I got a clear view of the man’s face,” she wrote of the shooter, saying he looked nothing like Lamonte McIntyre.
Stacey had heard on the streets who the killer supposedly was: Neil Edgar, Jr., nicknamed Monster. Edgar denied any involvement in the killings. But Stacey avoided him for years, staying away from certain places and keeping close to people she thought could protect her.
Even though Stacey was afraid of him, she offered to point out who she believed the real shooter was, so the right person would be punished for Little Don’s murder. And she had a brief chance, when Lamonte McIntyre appealed his case and it went back before a judge in 1996.
But Niko says Judge Dexter Burdette and Wyandotte County prosecutor Terra Morehead dismissed her testimony.
“They talked to her so bad wasn't even funny. They called her all kind of crack heads and everything else,” Niko says. “(The judge) talked to her like she was lower than dirt. Lower than dirt.”
In fact, Burdette said he didn’t believe Stacey, that she was “a felon” and a “habitual drug user.” Stacey testified that day that she typically smoked crack four times a day, although she hadn’t the day she saw her cousins killed.
Stacey Quinn was like many women who grew up under tough circumstances. She grew up poor and abused. And then she was, according to her family, victimized by Roger Golubski early in her life — while still a teenager.
It’s a story that echoes a separate allegation in the current federal indictment of Golubski, in which he allegedly raped an unnamed 13-year-old girl and kept doing it for years.
And it has patterns similar to those of several women Golubski is alleged to have victimized, according to their families and, now, the FBI.
The pattern was this: Golubski would see a vulnerable teenager or woman, pick her up, and then abuse her for years. The women wouldn’t talk about it because he’d threaten to kill or jail them — or their loved ones — if they told anyone. Sometimes he’d also give them drugs or promise them his “protection.”
Many of these women were murdered, their bodies found in the Quindaro neighborhood of Kansas City, Kansas.
Quindaro was Golubski’s territory. When Stacey Quinn was hanging around this area during the 1980s and ‘90s, it was mostly a low-income Black neighborhood where the residents knew Golubski, knew what he was doing, and hated him for it, according to many people KCUR has interviewed in KCK.
“I don't know what he was doing because there was a lot of, uh, stuff going on back in back then, like where people was selling drugs over there,” Niko Quinn says, meaning it was hard to know what Golubski may have been doing because there was so much drug crime.
“It was a lot of women, prostitution. They would be around there, you know, just a lot of women that smoked (crack) would hang out down in that area.”
The neighborhood is a maze of streets, with rundown houses, many abandoned.
Stacey Quinn was very much a part of all that.
“He was messing with Stacey back then,” Niko says of Golubski. “He messed with all these women. And he just (acted) like Black drug dealers are in the hole (to him).”
“They owed him money,” explains Khadijah Hardaway, who founded the organization Justice for Wyandotte to help the people who have been affected by the McIntyre case.
“Basically he had a hand in it is, is what I'm saying,” Niko adds. “Like, something you would see on TV, that he had to get paid, whatever was going on. Somebody moving in there, he basically had a hand in it. He was getting paid. Where's his cut?”
Stacey was murdered on Farrow Street, a dead end, in January 2000.
“My sister can't speak, none of the women can speak. So we have to be their voice,” Niko says. “We have to be their voice because I can just imagine that they're not resting. Especially if what people were putting out here is not true about what happened to them. (They’re) as they would say, speaking from the grave.”
Stacey Quinn's murder
The last time Jornelle Quinn saw his mother was two days before her murder. He was 16, living with one of his aunts.
“She gave me like $150. She was like, here you go baby,” he remembers. “And kissed me on my forehead. And that's when she left.”
Stacey was cold that day, so Jornelle gave her his red, white and yellow Kansas City Chiefs jacket. The night she died, he got home late after being at a teen club where he had run into a lot of her friends.
“They was like, yeah, ‘Your mama was looking for you,’” Jornelle said. “When I got there, it was like, everyone I seen that came by, ‘Your mama was just looking for you,’ you know? Like that.”
After Jornelle went home, around the corner from 32nd and Farrow Streets, he was outside with his friends.
“We chilling on, on the porch and that's when we heard all 'em shots,” he says. “It was a lot of shots and it sounded like, like they put another clip in the gun or something. ‘Cause it was a lot of shots. You just, you heard it, then you stop hearing it for a second, then boom. They start shooting again.”
He didn’t know until later that night, but those were the shots that killed his mother.
It was January 16, 2000, around 1:30 on a Sunday morning.
People who lived on the block told police they heard about 10 shots — and then they heard a woman begging for help, and then another volley of about 10 shots.
Stacey made it to the front door of a 90-year-old woman’s home, who had been watching TV in her living room. Bullets came through the woman’s front window and broke a ceramic lamp.
“We were told that she was begging the person, the people, not to kill her,” Niko says. “She said she wanted to go home. She wanted to go to her son. She wanted to go to her family. That she was yelling. ‘Please don't kill me. Don't kill me.’ And he chased her. And as he was chasing her, he was shooting her.”
'You know who my mama is'
In police reports, witnesses say they saw a six-foot-tall Black man wearing a short black coat. He was running and had a gun.
When police arrived, they found Stacey Quinn face down at the woman’s front door, with shell casings near her body. There were more shell casings in the street, along with one of her shoes and a white plastic bag with her things in it — some clothes and a book. Another shell casing was found under her leg.
Stacey Quinn was 31 years old.
The detective who came to the scene that night was Roger Golubski. The police report said he arrived at 2:30 a.m., an hour after Stacey was killed. His report, much like the one he wrote on that 1994 double homicide on Hutchings Street, made it sound as if he’d never heard of these people, the Quinns.
He reported that he went to the Quinns and got an ID on a woman “by the moniker of Buckwheat whose name was Stacey Quinn.” Stacey’s street name was Buckwheat.
The autopsy showed 21 bullet wounds in Stacey’s body. While the coroner was undressing her, a bullet fell out of her jacket. Another intact bullet was found just lying on her neck.
She’d been wearing the red, yellow and white Kansas City Chiefs jacket Jornelle had given her two days earlier. In her pocket was some make-up, a tube of lipstick, a toothbrush and condoms.
“Then the next morning we all met up over my great grandma's and that's when Golubski came. And he was like, uh, yeah, Stacey Quinn was killed, but he was acting like he didn't know who my mama was, you know? And it was kind of weird to me,” Jornelle remembers. “I was young, and I really, like, I don't — I used to see you with her. So you know who my mama is.”
Golubski and his partner focused their investigation on a car that was parked near the crime scene — a 1998 black Chevy Cavalier. It had a dent on the driver’s side and bullet holes on the passenger side.
They went to the apartment of the young woman who owned the car and found her boyfriend, a 22-year-old named Marcus Washington. They also found a 40-caliber Sturm Ruger and a lot of ammunition.
Golubski’s report said Washington had been driving home that night when Stacey flagged him down asking for drugs. She also asked for a ride and they stopped at a house. While waiting, Washington said, he was hit by another car on the driver’s side — he thought it was a man who had made two attempts to kill him.
Washington told police he was terrified of this man and thought Stacey was setting him up.
He said he grabbed his gun but Stacey fought him for it — they both jumped out on either side of the car. Washington said Stacey threatened him, that she had a small gun and she fired at him and he fired back. She took off running, he followed, and she ended up at the front door of 3217 Farrow Street.
The prosecutor on the case was Terra Morehead — the same one who had threatened Niko with the loss of her children if she didn’t falsely identify Lamonte McIntyre as the shooter in the 1994 double murder on Hutchings Street. Morehead was at the scene of Stacey Quinn’s murder, according to the police report.
At his trial, Washington testified on his own behalf. He admitted shooting Stacey — he said he emptied the 15-bullet clip on his Ruger — but said it was in self-defense. A psychologist testified that he had PTSD because someone had twice tried to kill him.
His self-defense argument failed to persuade the jury. In October 2000, Washington was convicted and sentenced to a “Hard 50” under the Kansas law requiring a mandatory minimum of 50 years in prison for premeditated first-degree murder.
Washington is now 45; his earliest possible release date is January 2050.
'I got a ride'
Stacey’s family still has questions about her murder.
For instance, Niko and her sister Lela say that when Golubski notified the family of Stacey’s death, she asked him about reports that Stacey was seen riding in a red Jeep with a white guy with a ponytail on the night she was killed.
Lela says in the photos they showed the family that day, a red Jeep was at the crime scene, though KCUR couldn’t confirm that.
“I did my own footwork and they told me that my sister had, had been riding around with a white guy with a ponytail, with a long trench coat on. And I had, that's what we've been hearing for years. That's what we heard when it first happened,” Niko says. “We didn't know nothing about no Black man until they came and said they found a killer and it was Marcus Washington.”
Niko says Golubski told her, “Don’t worry about that red Jeep.” But it did come up at Washington’s trial. Under questioning from prosecutor Terra Morehead, Golubski testified that a red vehicle in a crime scene photo belonged to a resident on Farrow Street, but that he never found him to interview him.
Here’s something else that bothers Niko: In September 1999, Stacey took a plea bargain on a cocaine possession charge that would have put her in prison for at least a year — well past January 2000, when she was killed. But court documents show that Stacey got out in just a couple months.
“Before she got out of jail, she called me and told me she needed a hundred dollars — when she had just told me days (before) that they were supposed to be shipping her out to some place in Missouri, some women's prison in Missouri or Topeka,” Niko says. “And they was just waiting on a room. I know they had room to send her, but she never left.”
Stacey was kept in the Wyandotte County jail. Niko says the judge told Stacey she needed to get clean and that she would be in prison for a while. But then, suddenly, she was getting out.
Niko called her other sister, Lela, that day.
“I call Lela to tell her what happened,” Niko remembers. “By the time I’m hanging up the phone with Lela, Stacey’s walking in the door and I'm asking, how did she get here? ‘How you get here?’”
“I got a ride,” Stacey told her. From Golubski, Niko says.
The family has heard from people who were out on the streets that night that they don’t believe the police version of events in Stacey Quinn’s murder. That’s because, people told her, “they were involved.”
“I know what ‘they’ means,” Niko says. ‘They’ is not no you, me or nobody like that. ‘They’ is the police. That's what ‘they’ is.”
‘She was a good mother, no matter what’
If Stacey Quinn were still alive, she’d be a grandmother.
Jornelle Quinn is now 36. He has three kids — his oldest, a daughter, just graduated from high school. He mostly wants to remember the good things about his mom — how when he was little she called him Punky, and they’d color together or go to the park, and how she could do a back flip. He’s still good at chess because of her.
And they loved to dance. To a lot of songs, but he especially remembers a Kris Kross song called “Jump.”
“I always remember that one ‘cause it was back when everybody was wearing their clothes (backward),” he says. “She used to dress like me. I used to dress like her. And we had got on the dance floor and just be dancing, spend a little time together.”
Jornelle is clear-eyed about his mom. He knew she was often on the streets and that she used drugs. He still loves her deeply.
“Yeah, it didn't matter if she was on drugs or anything. I had like, growing up, I had a lot of friends that, you know, (their) mama use and they'll be ashamed of it, but you know, it's — it’s life,” he says. “Sometimes people go through something and it's hard to get, get out of it. And you know, I accepted it, what it was.”
Life didn’t get any easier for Jornelle after his mom’s death. He was convicted on a federal drug charge in 2006 and went to prison through 2011. He lives on the Missouri side of Kansas City now, hoping to stay away from old temptations in Kansas City, Kansas.
He’s trying to face what he’s been through — his Aunt Niko is always after him to talk about his mom — but people don’t really understand. The hardest days of the year are in October, her birthday, and on Mother’s Day.
“She was a good mother, no matter what, like her use or whatever it was, she was a good mother and she made sure she raised a good boy,” Jornelle says. “Well, man, now. Yeah. I'd say she raised a good man.”
Niko Quinn wants her sister’s case reopened. That’s what it would take to get justice for everybody, she says.
And there are a couple of odd things about the case.
First, Marcus Washington said Stacey Quinn had a small gun — but there was no record it was ever recovered. There were casings from a .25-caliber gun found in the street, but Washington used larger .40 caliber bullets in his Ruger.
Second, the autopsy says a red tube top was “retained archivally in the morgue freezer.” None of the police property reports listed a red tube top among Stacey’s things.
And if prosecutors were so certain of the strength of their case against Washington, why was it necessary to retain this one piece of evidence that was never brought out at trial?
Stacey Quinn’s story is a lot like other women whose cases KCUR has looked at: they got involved with Golubski at an early age, connected by sex or drugs or his use of “confidential informants.” And they ended up murdered, their bodies found in the same area where Stacey was killed.
And Golubski’s involvement in the investigation of Stacey’s murder says a lot about the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department and its lax supervision of one of its top homicide detectives.
The FBI’s new indictment of Golubski was welcome news to many people in Wyandotte County — but the FBI also investigated theKCKPD back in the 1980s and ‘90s, questioning their integrity and practices.Nothing came of this, as the effort was dropped when a sympathetic U.S. attorney left the office and KCKPD complained to the FBI, according to retired FBI agent Al Jennerich.
Now, all of Golubski’s cases are under scrutiny. District Attorney Mark Dupree has suggested he would review every case Golubski touched.
Because along with a list of murdered women, there are also many Black men who are in prison because of Golubski — and, like Lamonte McIntyre, they say they are innocent.
For decades, Roger Golubski used his own playbook to clear cases fast. But all of these years later, will he finally be held accountable?
One of Roger Golubski's former wives says he is so devoutly Catholic that he once wanted to become a priest. Instead, he spent 35 years in the Kansas City, Kansas, police force. Just who is Roger Golubski?
Overlooked is a production of KCUR Studios and the NPR Midwest Newsroom, and a member of the NPR Podcast Network.
It’s hosted by Peggy Lowe, with reporting by Peggy Lowe, Steve Vockrodt and Dan Margolies. Mackenzie Martin and Suzanne Hogan produced, mixed, and did the sound design for the podcast, with editing by CJ Janovy and mixing help from Paris Norvell. Digital editing by Gabe Rosenberg. Social media promotion by Allison Harris. Photos by Carlos Moreno and Julie Denesha. Artwork by Crysta Henthorne and Chandler Johnson of Kalimizzou. Music from Blue Dot Sessions and Kris Kross.
Special thanks this episode to Genevieve Des Marteau, Lisa Rodriguez, and Holly Edgell.