Human remains unearthed at a Jackson County property. Here is what we know

·5 min read

UPDATE: Remains dug up on Jackson County lot belong to missing Kansas City, Kansas, woman, police say

Law enforcement officials found human remains in the yard of an unincorporated Jackson County residence Wednesday afternoon.

A teenage girl told police that the property owner — who is currently incarcerated on alleged sex crimes involving a child — admitted to killing a woman and hiding the body, according to court records.

As of Thursday morning, the body has not been identified. Here is what we know so far:

Human remains found on Jackson County property

Authorities were executing a search warrant related to a missing person case Wednesday when they discovered human remains in a residential Jackson County property near Grain Valley. They had been summoned to the 4000 block of South Buckner-Tarsney Road around 9:30 a.m.

Officer John Syme, spokesman for the Independence Police Department, said he couldn’t release details on the missing person’s case to which the remains are connected. He didn’t say what led authorities to the property.

“There’s nothing I want to do to hinder that investigation at this point in releasing any premature information,” he said. “There’s a body in the ground. I’m gonna leave it at that for now.”

Detectives have been updating family members of the unidentified missing person, Syme said.

The FBI and the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office are assisting Independence police with the investigation. As of Thursday, no criminal charges related to the discovery had been filed, but police say the body is part of a homicide investigation.

Police maintained a heavy presence on the property Wednesday as construction equipment was used to dig a large hole on a residential property. Several unmarked squad cars lined the driveway as investigators congregated near a massive pile of dirt.

Teen leads police to remains

The buried human remains discovered in the yard of an unincorporated Jackson County residence were found after a teenage girl told police that the homeowner admitted to killing a woman and hiding the body, according to court records.

Police have not named the homeowner, 40-year-old Michael Hendricks, or anyone else as a possible suspect. But the girl Hendricks is accused of sexually abusing told police that Hendricks confessed to killing a woman whose dismembered body was shown to her in photographs.

Court records identify the teenager only by her initials. The Star generally does not identify victims of sexual assault.

Police were initially called by a caseworker for the girl, who is in foster care. The girl later told detectives she visited with Hendricks and his companion, 30-year-old Maggie Ybarra, periodically in recent months, according to court records.

During a visit with the couple, Hendricks allegedly showed the teenager pictures of a woman bound, gagged and tied up. Others showed dismembered human body parts.

Hendricks admitted to choking a woman to death and putting her in the freezer, the girl told the detective. He also allegedly told the teenager “it turned him on when people die.”

“She said that they told her they buried the body,” the detective who interviewed the girl wrote in a court document. “(Redacted) said she knows the area of where it is.”

The girl identified Hendricks by name and his physical description, including a tattoo on his back. She also told the detective that she wished everything that happened was “just a dream.”

Who are Michael Hendricks and Maggie Ybarra?

Michael Hendricks, the owner of the property where authorities unearthed the body, is being held in the Jackson County jail after being recently accused of sex crimes involving a child plus tampering with witnesses in a criminal case.

Hendricks is accused of seven felonies in Jackson County Court related to having sex with a woman in front of a child under the age of 14 and sexually molesting her. Charges were brought against Hendricks and Ybarra by a Jackson County grand jury earlier this month, court records show.

Hendricks is held in Jackson County jail on $500,000 bond. Greg Watt, an attorney representing Hendricks in the sex crimes case, said his client is innocent.

“We will be zealously representing the accused to the fullest extent of the law and believe strongly in his innocence concerning these matters,” Watt said in an emailed statement. “We have no doubt about our ability to provide strength during this difficult time and look forward to presenting his case to a Judge/Jury.”

The alleged abuse took place between October 2020 and April 2021, court records show. The Star generally does not identify victims of sexual assault.

Both Hendricks and Ybarra were accused in May of attempting to tamper the investigation by pressuring the child to keep quite. They also allegedly discarded physical evidence related to the case from Ybarra’s home.

Ybarra told police she met Hendricks in Narcotics Anonymous about a year and a half before she was arrested in April. They had been dating for a few months, she told police.

Hendricks had formed a company called Hendricks Aviation LLC. In an interview with 41 Action News, Ybarra’s father said she had sent him photographs of her in helicopters to introduce her new boyfriend.

“I seen his picture,” Pedro Ybarra told the television station. “He got a big beard and stuff and, you know, I told her, ‘He looks like a good dude,’ you know, looks like an alright dude, but looks can be deceiving.”

FBI assistance

Federal authorities were assisting Independence police and other law enforcement with the investigation on south Buckner Tarnsey Road in eastern Jackson County.

“We have a presence and we are providing assistance to the locals at this point,” said Bridget Patton, an FBI spokeswoman.

The Star’s Luke Nozicka contributed to this report.