Northeast News
May 19, 2021

KANSAS CITY, Missouri — Thirty six years ago a 14-year-old girl disappeared from the Northeast area and was never seen again.

Jody Ledkins was last seen on May 23, 1985. Her mother is still holding onto hope that someone will tell the truth.

According to a website her family set up to bring attention to the case, on the day of her disappearance, Ledkins walked to a friend’s residence near east 14th Street and Winchester Avenue after an argument with her boyfriend and other friends. At 10 p.m., she called her mother, Karen Stratton, and asked for a ride home to their residence in the East Bottoms.

Stratton did not have her car and Jody told her she had friends who could give her a ride. When she left her friend’s house, her friend assumed she was going back to her boyfriend’s in the 700 block of Cambridge Street, according to the family.

Ledkins was last seen walking northbound on Winchester from 14th Street. She was never heard from again. She did not take any money or extra clothing with her when she disappeared.

Ledkins was enrolled in a juvenile probation program at the time she disappeared, as she had a history of truancy. After her disappearance, Stratton contacted Ledkins’ caseworker and the caseworker filed two warrants, listing Jody as an endangered juvenile who should be detained by authorities if she was spotted.

Stratton assumed that the warrants also meant juvenile authorities had filed a missing child report with law enforcement; they had not. Law enforcement never considered Jody as a missing person until 1987, two years following her disappearance, because they had not been notified. As a result, Jody’s case was delayed and leads were minimal by the time the investigation began; however, police suspected foul play.

Ledkins’ probation officer got a letter about four years after Jody was last seen, according to the family. The writer claimed to be Jody and said she was doing well and one day she might say why she decided to leave. Stratton compared the handwriting with a previous letter Jody had written her probation officer, but isn’t sure whether or not it’s the same writing.

In 1993, Stratton got a series of threatening phone calls at her home that lasted two years. The caller(s) demanded money in exchange for Ledkins’ safe return and at one point threatened to send Ledkins’ body to her “in pieces.” Stratton started recording the calls and sent them to the police, who traced them to a Kansas City phone booth, but the caller was never identified. 

In 1997, police dragged the Missouri River after two prison inmates claimed they had information on the case. Their tip went nowhere, but it led the Kansas City Police Department to reclassify Jody’s case as a probable homicide.

Detectives have continued to work the case for the last 36 years. They joined with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to produce age-progressed photos of what Ledkins would look like in 1998 at age 28, and last year at age 43.

At the time she disappeared, Jody Ledkins was five-foot-one and weighed 90 pounds. She had blonde hair and blue eyes. She wore glasses, had a small mole under her chin, a large birthmark under her arm, an appendectomy scar and “perfect” teeth.

Stratton now lives in Greenforest, Ark., but plans to move back to Missouri soon. She wants Ledkins to know that her father passed away last year.

“I miss my daughter. It’s not fair for them to be keeping the truth from me,” Stratton told the Northeast News, adding that she hopes anyone who knows anything about her daughter’s disappearance will come forward.

Those who knew Ledkins when she lived in Northeast would be in their fifties.

“These kids are old now, and they know something,” Stratton said. “It’s time to finally come through with the truth.”

If you have any information on Jody Ledkins’ whereabouts, please contact the Cold Case, Missing Persons and Runaway Unit at 816-234-5136 or the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS (8477).