Roger Golubski was 67 when he sat in front of a video camera in an office on the 22nd floor of a Kansas City law firm. He wore a light blue shirt and tie, his gray hair slicked back, his walrus mustache and goatee white. His hulking form filled the screen, and it was hard to see his eyes behind the smoky lenses of his rectangular glasses.
A clerk asked him to raise his right hand, and Golubski swore to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help him God.
For the first time since it happened in 1994, Golubski was being forced to answer questions about his role as the lead investigator in a double murder case against Lamonte McIntyre, who spent 23 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.
After a years-long effort to prove his innocence, McIntyre was finally released in 2017.
Now it was November 2020, and Golubski was answering questions because McIntyre and his mother, Rosie, had filed a civil lawsuit against the local government in Kansas City, Kansas, and Golubski personally.
Questioning him was Emma Freudenberger, a partner at the New York law firm of Neufeld Scheck & Brustin (the Scheck is O.J. Simpson attorney Barry Scheck), who was working with McIntyre’s local lawyers.
As she asked about his height and weight (5’9”, 250) and other introductory questions, Golubski was polite, beginning answers “with all due respect” or saying “yes, ma’am.”
After half an hour, though, he grew combative.
Freudenberger asked: “OK, sir. You understand that if I ask you a question and you remember the answer, but you tell me you don't, that's a lie. You understand that?”
Golubski responded: “If I don't remember, I don't remember. If you refresh my memory, then I, it’s my error and say, you're correct. So, OK. Could be an error.”
It could be an error of omission, Golubski said, as opposed to a lie. “I would call that cooperation.”
Golubski wasn’t especially cooperative, though. He repeatedly took the Fifth Amendment to avoid incriminating himself.
When Freudenberger’s questions were graphic, he looked shocked, he scowled, he shook his head. Freudenberger wondered aloud why he was making faces at the camera but refusing to answer the question.
“You understand we're accusing you of raping women and coercing women into giving false testimony,” she said. “Some of the grossest acts of corruption a police officer can commit. Right? You understand that as you sit here today, this isn't the first you're hearing of this.”
Golubski invoked his Fifth Amendment rights 555 times that day.
It’s been almost two years since that deposition. In September 2022, Golubski was arrested by the FBI — but not for the McIntyre case. He faces an indictment on federal charges of denying two women their civil rights by raping and kidnapping them. Prosecutors have also accused him of committed similar crimes against other victims as young as 13.
Golubski might finally have to answer for the alleged behavior that people in Kansas City, Kansas, have talked about for decades.
The other women in Golubski’s life
One question Golubski did answer under oath was how many times he’d been married.
“Um, a lady by the name of Patty, Cindy, Donna,” he said when Freudenberger asked. “And if you count, um, uh, annulments, then there'd be four. Uh, Ethel.”
Ethel Abbott still lives in Kansas City, Kansas. When she answered her door in March 2022, it was clear others — specifically, Lamonte McIntyre’s lawyers and the FBI — had already been there to ask her about Roger Golubski.
“It's like it, it just seem like it never goes away,” she said of her past with Golubski. “It's like this man put his hooks in me and he has just had me for eternity. It's terrible.”
Abbott tells a story much like that of the other women Golubski pursued.
She was in her early 20s when she met him in the early 1990s. He had been on the police force for more than 15 years and had risen to detective. And, he had a son.
They met when Golubski was investigating a homicide at the gas station on Quindaro Boulevard where she worked the night shift.
Abbott wasn’t even at work on the night of that murder, but Golubski made her go down to the police station and watch surveillance video of the crime.
“And he wanted me to say it was a particular guy. And I told him I couldn't lie to him because I couldn't really see who these people were,” she says. “And he harassed me at that point. He continued to call, um, questioning me over and over again. And I'm like, there's no more I could tell you. There's no more I could help you with.”
Golubski wouldn’t let it go, Abbott says, and he made it clear he was also interested in her romantically. Among other things, she says, Golubski harassed her boyfriend, pulling him over on traffic stops enough times that he broke up with her.
Golubski came on strong, telling her she was a great lady and mother. Golubski told her his own son would love her. Abbott was working two jobs, and Golubski saw her struggling.
“He paid all my rent up to get me out of my lease. He went to, uh, the electric company, gas company paid everything to zero,” She remembers. “He said, ‘Now you have no excuse, ‘cause everything is taken care of and you come on with me,’ you know? So, oh my God.”
“He just made it feasible for me to have this easy life,” Abbott says.
They got married and Abbott moved in with Golubski in Edwardsville. They had what she called a regular family life. She was sending her children to better schools, and she even started attending beauty school.
For about three years, things were fine. Then Abbott started hearing things from her old neighborhood, from her family and others who still lived along Quindaro Boulevard, in Golubski’s territory.
They said he was cheating on her with sex workers who were addicted to drugs.
“They were like, ‘You messing with that cop, right?’ And they was like, ‘Man, he be messing with these smokers. He be at that house,’ you know? That sort of thing,” Abbott says. “I would go to him and he would say they're liars. He would say they're drug dealers. They're scum of the earth guys, he said, and naturally they're not gonna be honest. So who am I to believe?”
The talk from the old neighborhood increased, and women Abbott didn’t know started calling her house.
“We were in bed one night having pillow talk and I'm just like, oh my God, what made you start dating Black women? And the slip of the tongue... He said, ‘Because they're uneducated.’”
Abbott was furious. The next day, she says, she went out and ran up $50,000 in credit card debt just to get back at him.
The final straw, she says, came one day when she was driving around downtown Kansas City, Kansas, with her two sons and saw Golubski driving in his own car with two Black women she knew were sex workers and drug users. Abbott chased him down, confronted him.
“And that's when I told him, you know, ‘You're a liar,’” Abbott says. “And at that point I just said, ‘I out. I want out.’”
But it didn’t end with their divorce after five years of marriage. Abbott says Golubski wouldn’t leave her alone. He’d call her at random times, say things like he liked her new hairdo — implying he was watching her.
The worst time was one year on her birthday.
“I go out to my mailbox that day, and (there's a) big envelope and it had $1,000 cash in it,” she says, along with a big gold herring bone necklace. “And I'm just like, this Roger s--t right here, you know, 'cause the only Roger would do something like that.”
That night, Abbott went to a concert with a friend and her sister. When they left the venue, she saw Golubski sitting in his car. She drove to her friend’s place and dropped her off, but her sister was still in the car.
“He pulled up, blocked me to where I could not move,” Abbott remembers. “And he put on gloves. That's why I'm telling you — that scared me to death. He put on gloves, he had on a trench coat. He came to the window. I smoked, so I had my window cracked, you know, and he walks up to the car and he says, 'Roll the window down.' And I, you know, I was drinking and stuff. So I'm like, 'No,' you know, he, boom hit my window. I said, 'Wait a minute!'”
Angered, Abbott rolled down the window.
“And immediately he reach in and he grabbed that necklace on me and he just started to wind it up like that and pulling me,” she says, demonstrating how she remembers Golubski twisting the chain around her neck. She told her sister to call 911, and Abbott heard the call from Golubski’s police radio.
“That’s when he took off and jumped in his car. And then he left,” Abbott says.
She says she feels blessed to still be alive.
“After I heard about all these women and the things that went on, that was one thing that I was really scared about,” she says, “because I'm like this man is a homicide detective. Death is nothing to him. Nothing.”
Abbott filed a couple of reports with the police department and says they ordered him to stay away from her. As the years went by, things calmed down — until one day around 2014 when some lawyers came to her door. They told her they were working on Lamonte McIntyre’s case and wanted information about her marriage to Golubski, but they also had news for her.
Right after she got married to Golubski, he had their marriage annulled.
“I had no knowledge of it,” she says. “He said because of false pretenses, like I lied about, I couldn't have children. And I had been out there with that man all that time. Five years.”
Despite the annulment, when the relationship finally came to an end in the early ‘90s, Abbott says, Golubski offered her divorce papers.
“It stated that he would set me back up the way I was when, um, we first got together, you know, he was threatening. He said that if I tried to take, you know, like his home or anything from him, he was gonna put his boys after me,” she says, meaning other police offers.
Former Kansas City, Kansas, police officers — including Terry Zeigler, who was Golubski's partner before he was promoted to chief of police — said Golubski was secretive about his personal life.
Abbott says when they were married, only one person at the police station knew they were together.
“They said he was a chameleon,” Abbott says. “He lived two different lives.”
Max Seifert, a former Kansas City, Kansas, police officer who graduated from the police academy with Golubski and worked for the department from 1975 to 2005, describes Golubski as "underhanded."
"He was, I would describe him as being very secretive," Seifert says. "Maybe even sinister, you know. He was kind of a troublemaker."
Seifert says he didn't know about Golubski's behavior with Black sex workers, but he did know he was married to Ethel, which was during the time he shared an office with Golubski, from 1993 to 1995. Seifert says he ran into Ethel one day.
"She approached me and she says, 'I'm divorcing Roger,'" Seifert recalls. "I ask her 'Why?' And she said, 'I just can't take the prostitutes anymore.'"
But it is strange that people don’t know more about his personal life, because he spent nearly all of his life in Kansas City, Kansas, where many members of his family still live.
‘God suspends you now’
Roger Golubski is from a big Polish family that settled in Kansas City, Kansas, like a lot of other eastern European immigrants. In 2016, the Golubski clans had two floats in the annual Polski Day parade.
He was born in 1952 to Josephine and Edward Golubski. He has one brother, Randy. His father died in 1986. His mother died in 2018 and her obituary said she was an active member of the Moose Lodge, a national organization only white people were allowed to join.
Ethel Abbott says Golubski admitted to her that his father had been racist, but she was still invited into the family. She just never felt completely welcomed.
One Christmas at Josephine Golubski’s home, Abbott says, there were presents for all of the kids, with labels saying they were “from grandma.” But the labels for Abbott’s children, who were Black, said “from Mrs. Golubski.”
“And I'm just like, your mother is probably just as racist as your dad, you know? I was like, I'm never going back over there. I'm never taking my children into that environment again,” Abbott says. “I'm like, I cannot believe your mother would. And then once we questioned her about it, she said, ‘Oh, um, that I never seen anybody of your color until I was 16 old in California.’ But that doesn't make it right.”
In a show of support for her, Abbott says, Golubski cut off contact with his mother after that.
During his 2020 deposition, Golubski told attorney Emma Freudenberger that at one point, he had planned to be a priest. He spent his high school years at a now-closed Catholic seminary called Savior of the World, and was a longtime member of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church.
Golubski's draft number kept him out of the Vietnam War. Instead of joining the priesthood, however, in 1975 he joined the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department.
Abbott says he remained very religious.
“He said his prayers every day, several times a day, kept his rosary,” she says.
But when she learned of Golubski’s reputation with prostitutes, among other things, she called him on it. She told him stepping into the confessional at St. Patrick’s wasn’t going to save him.
“And I'm like, you think you could just get in that box and say, ‘Father, forgive me for, I have sinned.’ And you think your sins are wiped away? I said, no, sir. And look at it now. See? Karma. Now it's come back to bite him.”
During his deposition, Freudenberger asked Golubski whether he considered the rules in the Bible sacred.
“Yes ma'am,” he answered. As to whether he strove to live by those rules at all times, he said, “Sometimes it’s better than the others.”
Golubski said part of his faith was that he’d try to do “good deeds.”
“I think you have to be real careful, even as a police officer, an attorney, a judge, a professional,” he said, because of the U.S. Constitution’s separation of church and state. “If we had an encounter on a street and I'm going, ‘Oh, Miss Emma here, you should do Matthew 23: 9-10.’ I think that'd be totally out of place. But if I'd say, ‘Oh, your car broke down, you need some help,’ or, ‘Hey, uh, you know, you need to use a phone.’ That's a good deed. It's not throwing God out there, but that, that is a good deed.”
Freudenberger pressed him, asking whether that meant he operated under two sets of rules.
“Forgive me God, but I'd have to put the police department first when I was working,” he said. “God suspends you later. The police department suspends you now.”
The FBI's earlier KCKPD investigation
In 2021, KCUR learned that the FBI had long been investigating the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department’s decades-old reputation for corruption.
FBI documents dating back to the 1990s detail two investigations: one was called Operation Street Smart, the other Operation Tarnished Star.
In between many redactions, the reports tell a vivid story, sprinkled with observations by an unnamed FBI agent and filled with anecdotes of appalling racism and abuse — even towards Black children. The documents show that Kansas City, Kansas, police routinely violated the civil rights of those they were sworn to protect.
They severely beat people in the city jail. They were alleged to have been dealing drugs and committing robberies. And they ignored the crack cocaine epidemic.
An FBI agent wrote there were 200 officers with misconduct allegations against them, many for excessive force.
Alan Jennerich, a retired FBI agent who investigated local police departments when there were claims of corruption, says finding so many complaints on that many officers in a small department was highly unusual. And, he says, he was shocked by some of the Kansas City, Kansas, department’s procedures, including the destruction of internal affairs reports after just three years.
“Now, why would you do that? The only reason you do that is to protect your cops, to protect your, your bad employees,” he says.
The FBI documents say the KCKPD simply ignored the allegations, never looking into civil rights complaints. People in town still remember this, and many are still too scared to talk about it.
It wasn’t until the mid-1980s, when the first Black man was elected to local government, that anyone with some power began talking about police brutality. But even when that newly elected official raised disturbing claims, the newspapers tended to believe the police, taking their statistics as gospel.
Ultimately, nothing came of that FBI investigation. Golubski wasn’t investigated back then. Jennerich suggests there were so many other corrupt things to chase, agents looked the other way on Golubski’s alleged abuse of Black women.
Jennerich says his investigation dried up after the prosecutor who’d been signing off on his subpoenas left the U.S. Attorney's office. He says Kansas City, Kansas, cops complained about him, and asked the feds to shut down their investigation into the department.
“The FBI does not want these cases,” he says. “It's just a big headache for them politically, ‘cause they want to be friends with everybody.”
Golubski’s ‘confidential informants’
Another way Golubski used Black women was what he called “confidential informants.” Lamonte McIntyre’s lawyers said Golubski would give these women money and drugs to lie in court, so he could clear cases quickly.
Golubski demonstrated part of this tactic on an episode of a reality TV show in 2007. It was a police show called “The First 48,” a reference to how police are most likely to find a suspect in a homicide investigation within the first 48 hours.
At the time, Golubski was a captain in the homicide unit. He’s trim, but he’s a big guy, wearing dress pants and a pressed shirt, his hair slicked back. In the show, a man in Kansas City, Kansas, witnessed another man shoot his friend, but swears he didn’t know the shooter’s name. So two detectives are stumped — until they learn that an officer on the street had identified a female who “had information.”
She wouldn’t give the officer her name: “She wanted either two specific detectives to call her, Golubski or Zeigler,” the officer says.
This informant would only talk to Golubski or Terry Zeigler — Golubski’s partner at the time, who would later be promoted to police chief. While one of the detectives was on the phone with the informant, the other called Golubski.
The informant agreed to speak with the detectives if Golubski said it was OK. With Golubski’s consent, the informant told them where the suspect was and by the end of the show, he was caught, convicted and put in prison for 20 years. Another case made by one of Golubski’s “confidential informants.”
This scene played out in real life many times in Golubski’s career. He was known for his vast network of informants. And he made top brass at the police department happy because he was closing cases quickly.
It gave the illusion that he was good at his job.
But we know from the Lamonte McIntyre case, and others, that Golubski’s tactics were highly questionable. And it’s a big part of the new federal case stacking up against Golubski. McIntyre says several men he served time with are innocent — and all of their cases are connected to Golubski. One of those cases is already back in court.
The U.S. Attorney’s office has said that the FBI is still investigating Golubski and more charges could be coming.
Documents obtained by KCUR show the FBI is seeking a detailed look into homicide cases, including dispatch reports, witness statements, crime scene photos, evidence lists, autopsy reports and investigator notes. None of the victims were named because the documents are redacted.
The FBI is also looking into confidential informants. In addition to naming 36 confidential informants — with their names blacked out — the FBI asked for KCKPD’s entire database of informants.
Documents show the feds have asked for all of this information for the years that cover Golubski’s career. And the requests stop at 2010, when he retired.
‘Particularly lewd questions’
Golubski had caused problems for the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department almost from the beginning of his career.
In March 1978, just three years after he joined the department, a 41-year-old man died from internal bleeding after he was arrested by Golubski.
According to newspaper accounts at the time, Golubski admitted to striking the man with his nightstick as he transported him from a bar to a detox cell at the jail. A coroner’s jury issued a verdict saying the man died from an accident due to a fall caused by “his own self-indulgence.”
But neither that incident — nor any other that were lodged against him — slowed Golubski’s career. He just kept moving up the ranks.
By the time of the 1994 double murder on Hutchings Street, Golubski allegedly had a blueprint for using these so-called confidential informants and clearing cases fast.
During the 2020 deposition, lawyer Emma Freudenberger asked him about this.
“You had a whole network of Black women in Kansas City, Kansas, who you coerced into giving you information and sex in exchange for money and drugs, correct?”
Golubski took the Fifth.
Freudenberger grilled him: He had sex with Black women in his office and his police car, she said. And his practice during the 1990s was picking up Black sex workers, putting them up in a local motel, giving them a day’s worth of crack, and abusing them, she said. Women were not allowed to say no to him, were they?
“And sometimes when those women told you to stop or they had enough or couldn’t take it anymore, you raped them at gunpoint,” Freudenberger suggested. “Didn't you?”
Golubski took the Fifth.
Freudenberger continued: His bosses in the KCK police department knew all of this, didn’t they? He was never disciplined, never investigated by internal affairs, was he? He even set up other officers with sex workers, she said. Then, Freudenberger dropped a bomb.
“By the way, you could agree that in the 1980s and 1990s, you had a reputation within the Kansas City, Kansas, police department, of fathering children of prostitutes, correct?”
Golubski took the Fifth.
Freudenberger’s questioning grew even more graphic.
“A detective named Jimmy Bauer walked in on you getting a blow job in your office some years later, right?”
Golubski took the Fifth.
In the video, Golubski appears to look shocked but sticks to the script that his attorney has given him, even holding it up for the camera — a piece of paper with big block letters, his Fifth Amendment language all spelled out.
Freudenberger: “Sir, are you intentionally trying to look surprised when, uh, I, I may ask particularly lewd questions?”
Golubski: “On advice of my attorney, I invoke my Fifth Amendment constitutional rights.”
Freudenberger’s questioning eventually moved on to the drug trade in Kansas City, Kansas, suggesting that Golubski was working with the city’s most notorious drug dealers.
“Cecil Brooks and Joe Robinson have both admitted under penalty of perjury that they knew you and frequently paid you to tip them off about planned police raids,” Freudenberger said.
Brooks was the drug lord who allegedly ordered Little Don and Donnie killed in the murder on Hutchings Street in 1994.
“You saw Black men making money through the drug trade in Kansas City, Kansas,” Freudenberger said, “and you wanted in on the action, correct?"
According to Freudenberger, Golubski and Cecil Brooks set up a business in an apartment building, dealing drugs and sex. Supposedly that was Golubski’s second motive for framing Lamonte McIntyre: To protect Cecil Brooks.
“You also had the ability to designate a drug dealer or an informant insulating him from criminal repercussions,” Freudenberger said. “Correct?
Golubski scowled, crossed his arms, leaned back.
“In other words,” Freudenberger said, “Cecil Brooks paid you to make sure that he didn't get arrested in Kansas City, Kansas, in the early and mid-1990s.”
Golubski squirmed in his chair, waving away questions. At one point he looked to the ceiling and mouthed, “Oh my….”
Freudenberger asked if there was something else he wanted to say.
“Oh, I'd love to,” Golubski said, “but — ”
His attorney interrupted, and Golubski invoked the Fifth Amendment.
'Allegations of reprehensible conduct'
Golubski is nearly 70 now.
After he retired from the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department, Golubski went to work for the police department in the small town of Edwardsville, next to Kansas City, Kansas, in Wyandotte County. He retired from that job in 2016.
He still lives in Edwardsville, which is where FBI agents arrested him early in the morning on Sept. 15 and charged him with violating two women's civil rights for allegedly assaulting them more than two decades ago.
It’s also where U.S. Magistrate Judge Rachel E. Schwartz allowed him to stay on house arrest, even after federal prosecutors argued he was too dangerous to be let out of jail before his trial.
In releasing Golubski to home detention, Schwartz acknowledged the indictment contained “allegations of reprehensible conduct,” and said the underlying facts of the case were “quite frankly, shocking.”
In asking that Golubski be kept in jail until his trial, prosecutors had painted a lurid picture of a sexual predator who allegedly assaulted girls as young as 13. They filed a motion that described in graphic detail not just the alleged assaults against the two women mentioned in the indictment but alleged assaults against seven other women.
But Schwartz said Golubski’s poor health conditions, including Type 1 diabetes and renal failure, meant that he could no longer threaten or harass the women he’s accused of assaulting and raping.
Before Golubski’s arrest, KCUR reporters made many attempts to contact him, even going to his house and leaving him a letter with detailed questions.
He never replied.
Former detective Roger Golubski is connected to a disturbing string of missing and murdered women, many of whose stories are just now coming to light. This sexual violence was ignored for decades, but now advocates have created a list of names of these women and are trying to tell their stories.
Overlooked is a production of KCUR Studios and the NPR Midwest Newsroom, and a member of the NPR Podcast Network.
Hosted by Peggy Lowe. Reported by Peggy Lowe, Steve Vockrodt and Dan Margolies. Produced, mixed and sound designed by Mackenzie Martin and Suzanne Hogan. Edited by CJ Janovy. Mixing help from Paris Norvel. 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. Special thanks this episode to Genevieve Des Marteau, Lisa Rodriguez, Holly Edgell, and Anne Lacey at the Kansas City, Kansas, Public Library.