Our card this week is James Walker III, the King of Clubs from Kansas.
When James was shot to death at a house party in 2017, local police kicked off an investigation
to find the people responsible.
But they were soon met with obstacles left and right, from lack of physical evidence
to witnesses refusing to cooperate.
Today, both investigators and James’ family believe the case could be solved if just one
person who knows the truth is brave enough to come forward.
I’m Ashley Flowers, and this is The Deck.
The Suburban neighborhood of Linwood in Wichita, Kansas was usually quiet on Sunday evenings.
And April 9th, 2017 was no different.
With the weekend winding down, most residents could count on a peaceful evening before the
work week started back up the next day.
Which is why a loud bang caught the attention of an elderly woman named Georganne.
It was a little after 9 p.m., so when she heard the bang, she paused.
And then she heard it again and again.
And finally, as the sound continued a couple more times, the realization of what she was
hearing hit her.
It was gunfire.
She couldn’t tell exactly where the gunshots were coming from, but she could tell that
they were close, especially when she began to hear people screaming in the distance.
So she grabbed her phone and dialed 911.
But Georganne wasn’t the only one.
As operators were taking her call, they were flooded with calls from other people in the
neighborhood who’d heard the same gunfire.
And one caller could even tell them exactly where the shots were fired.
He said he was at a house party on Minneapolis Street when, out of the blue, someone started
The party erupted into chaos, and although he wasn’t sure where the shooter was now,
the gunfire had stopped, and another partygoer was severely injured.
Emergency responders were immediately dispatched, but when they arrived, it took them a few
moments to gather their bearings.
There were at least 20, 25 people all scrambling to get into their cars, and rushing in and
out of the house.
Some were even fleeing on foot.
As officers from the Wichita Police Department started trying to control the crowd and get
a sense of what was going on, they came across a man lying on the ground near the front porch.
He was unresponsive and bleeding profusely from his torso.
That man was 31-year-old James Walker III.
Right off the bat, it was clear that James was in bad shape, so paramedics rushed him
to the hospital while officers called for backup from the homicide unit.
So we get called, obviously, if they are deceased at that time, they will call us.
They will also call us if the injuries are so bad they do not believe that they are survivable,
which again, nobody knows at that time.
And there are instances that we’ve come in and we started to work a case like it’s a
murder and that person does not die.
So like the gang unit would come in and kind of take over at that point.
That was Detective Addie Perkins of the WPD, who had been asleep at her home when the call
So while she got ready and made the half-hour drive into the city, officers at the scene
got to work trying to collect witness statements, but that was easier said than done.
Ideally, we try to find witnesses out on the scene that will come up here to City Hall,
to our offices to do interviews.
We like to have people separated so we get their very pure, their story.
In this situation, I know a lot of people were not cooperative and they did not want
to talk to us.
I think people sometimes are just scared.
They just don’t want to be involved.
They just want it to go away.
They want to go home.
They want to sleep.
They want to just move on with their lives.
They don’t want to think about coming to court.
They don’t want to think about people finding out that they talked to the police.
Despite this hesitancy, officers were eventually able to get statements from 11 people who
were at the house, including one guy who’d called 911 and the host of the party.
It was this man named Antonio Birch.
And slowly, they were able to piece together a clearer picture of what went down leading
up to the shooting.
Antonio said that he was known for hosting family gatherings and neighborhood hangouts,
especially on nights like this.
It was early April, the weather was nice, and he’d wanted to have a chill evening with
This was them just getting together.
I do recall, and I couldn’t even tell you who told us this, but there were people even
outside getting haircuts.
They were doing haircuts outside and eating and barbecuing and the kids were playing.
So this was just, I guess you could say, a normal gathering of people.
Antonio told police that James was dropped off at the house party at around 9 p.m.
And although I’m not sure who dropped him off, he’d only been there for about 20 minutes
before the shooting started.
Now Antonio said that he was inside when he heard the gunshot, so he didn’t really see
But several other witnesses said that James had been in the front yard when three men
approached the house from the south side of the street.
The men were wearing dark clothing and had their hoods flipped up to conceal their faces.
But no one paid much attention to them.
In fact, the witness who saw them told police that they just assumed they were there for
But then the three men stopped in front of the house on the edge of the street and each
pulled out a gun and opened fire.
Now that is when all hell broke loose.
People were darting into the house, diving behind cars and trees, literally running for
Based on the various statements, officers determined that the number of gunshots averaged
between five and ten.
But in the midst of all the chaos, no one was able to get a good look at the shooters.
No one saw them leave either, leading police to believe that they had likely left on foot.
And devastatingly, no one even realized that James had been shot until well after the shooting
stopped and people began to come out of hiding.
Obviously, there was some type of planning.
I don’t think this was a long-term, very detailed plan.
Obviously if you’re going to walk up, these are not just neighbors.
I mean, these are not people that probably live in that neighborhood that would put themselves
out there like that.
I think that they probably wanted to have more of a surprise type of factor.
A car people are going to notice, more people just walking up and down the street, maybe
not so much.
When they were able to take stock of what had happened, it seemed like James was the
only person who’d been shot.
In fact, the only other injury that they had to attend to on scene was a woman who’d sprained
her ankle trying to run away.
As they continued gathering witness statements, other officers searched the scene for evidence,
but there wasn’t much.
A few shell casings and live rounds were scattered across the yard and driveway and street, and
the house itself had multiple bullet holes in its facade.
At this point, it was about 11.25 p.m., and Detective Perkins arrived at the house.
After being briefed on the situation, she got to work leading an initial canvas of the
They were looking for anything, more bullets, blood, even security cameras.
I mean, this was happening in 2017, so luckily there were things like motion-sensor doorbells
that they could rely on.
So they went door to door, hopeful that someone’s camera had captured video of the three men
coming or going.
But it was late, so a lot of their knocking went unanswered.
The problem is sometimes with that time of night, people have maybe gone back to bed.
They might not want to answer the door.
We’ve had people that were just too scared to answer the door.
Some people might be working night shift.
Some people might have, you know, maybe they sleep with earplugs in and they never heard
Maybe they talked to a neighbor and didn’t realize that, you know, this had happened.
So sometimes we go back a second time, but initially, yes, we do try to go and knock
on as many doors in that area as we can.
An hour later, while they were still canvassing the area, Detective Perkins got a call from
officers who had gone to the hospital with James.
They said he had succumbed to his wounds and was pronounced dead at 1230 a.m.
Since the case was now a homicide, the reigns were officially passed to Detective Perkins,
and by 430 a.m., they’d finished processing the neighborhood and the scene without uncovering
any new information.
Perkins spent the rest of the morning reviewing what little they had and talking to James'
family, who’d arrived at the scene by then.
They were devastated, and his mom even asked to be interviewed later so she could just
have some time to grieve, to which Detective Perkins agreed.
And while Detective Perkins was waiting, she got a call from officers at another local
hospital, and they said there might be another victim from the shooting.
The officers tell Detective Perkins that around 11 that morning, a woman had brought a man
into the ER to be treated for a gunshot wound to his buttocks.
It’s unclear if the two were married or just dating, but either way, the bullet had gone
straight into the muscle and out the other side, so it wasn’t life-threatening.
It was obviously a very fresh wound, though, and needed medical attention, but when the
hospital staff had asked them what happened, both the man and the woman were super cagey
and wouldn’t give them any details.
So when a gunshot victim walks into a hospital, depending on how they tell the hospital or
what’s going on, we are called.
So 911 is called for a walk-in shooting victim.
So an officer responds, and it sounds like that he told the officer, I got this from
the night before.
Thinking that the man could have been shot at the same house party, the responding officers
called Detective Perkins, who then went to the hospital to question the man herself.
His name was Jamaicus Ricks, and he admitted that, yeah, he was shot at the party the night
before, but the reason he didn’t stick around or get treatment right then was because he
had some active warrants for a few undisclosed incidents, so instead he ran to avoid being
arrested, thinking maybe he could just tough it out.
I know sometimes gunshot wounds, depending on how close you are, sometimes it almost
cauterizes the skin, that hot lead and the hot metal.
I mean, I’m not a medical expert, but that sometimes, you know, you see gunshot victims
and there’s no blood, sometimes it’s all internal.
I think in this, it’s more of a flesh wound, probably, in his case, to where it wasn’t
debilitating as far as hitting any major organs, so that’s probably why he was able to stick
it out for a while or live with it for, you know, several hours before he got medical treatment.
Jamaicus also had abrasions on his hands, knuckles, and face.
But his only explanation for those injuries was that he’d gotten into a physical altercation
at the party.
Now, I don’t know who he fought or when it took place in relation to the shooting,
because when Detective Perkins tried to ask follow-up questions, he shut down.
And the woman with him also refused to give up any more information.
So Detective Perkins was forced to move on, even though she believed he knew more than
he was saying.
I believe he knows what happened.
I think he was just not wanting to give us that information.
Despite Jamaicus’ refusal to cooperate, his appearance was crucial because it meant
that James wasn’t the only victim, which meant maybe he wasn’t the intended target
So I don’t believe James was an intended target.
And Mr. Ricks, as far as I know, probably wasn’t either.
I just don’t feel like this was something that they knew he was going to that party
and were going to target him at that party or gathering.
I just don’t feel like that was probably the case.
I feel like if they wanted to shoot him, they could have shot him elsewhere with less witnesses.
There’s so many people there.
But again, on the other side of things, you know, people don’t like to talk to the police.
People don’t want to be involved in court and in these cases.
So maybe they knew that if they did a shooting at a party like this with people that did
not want to cooperate with the police, that they would not have people coming forward.
I don’t know.
I don’t think that they’re thinking that that detailed, but that’s that’s how my mind
kind of works when I think about cases like that.
Even if neither James nor Jamaicus were the intended targets, someone obviously was.
And Detective Perkins hoped that talking to James’s family would clear some things up.
So when they were ready, she sat down with his parents and his sister, Ebony, to get
a little more background information on who he was.
She learned that James was a Wichita native and was fairly well known in the community
for his amateur rap career.
He’d released several songs online and even had a music video on YouTube under the stage
name Montana YG, which Detective Perkins believes stood for Young Gangster.
Montana or Tan was one of his nicknames because he was as big as Montana.
That’s why he had that name.
He was a very large person.
Speaking with his mother, even though he was a big guy, he was kind of a teddy bear in
that aspect towards his mother, like any good boy should be towards their parents,
especially their mom.
She also learned that James had a criminal record.
He’d been charged for drug possession a few times, had a misdemeanor weapons charge, and
was once charged of driving with a suspended license.
His family said that while he wasn’t in a gang, he was friends with a lot of guys that
were gang members.
But despite all this, they couldn’t think of anything specific in his life that would
make someone want to kill him.
So Detective Perkins figured her theory about James had to be right.
The shooter didn’t come to the party to kill him specifically.
But that didn’t put her any closer to figuring out who the target actually was, which meant
she didn’t know the motive, and not having a motive made her job 10 times harder.
Any chance that she might find the motive or the intended target became even less likely
when James’ mom pulled her aside as she was leaving and gave her a warning.
She even told me, you’re going to have problems with people talking.
I know the reality of the gang world and the gang life.
And I remember, you know, thinking that she’s obviously very aware of the people that he
hangs out with and their views of talking to the police and these types of cases.
That statement would ring true as Detective Perkins spent the next few days trying to
re-interview people in a neighborhood, hoping that someone remembered something.
But house after house, no one would talk.
With no new leads to explore, Detective Perkins hit a roadblock.
And James’ case stayed stuck until about a month later when his autopsy report was
It had taken longer than usual because they had to wait for the toxicology results, which
showed that James had marijuana and PCP in his system when he died.
The rest of the results were pretty much what Detective Perkins was expecting.
James’ cause of death was the five gunshot wounds to his torso, with the most damage
being caused by a bullet that had perforated his abdominal aorta.
He also had a gunshot wound to his left hand and a contusion on his upper right back area
that was likely from his body hitting the ground.
The coroner was able to recover a single bullet that was sent off for testing.
Those results came back in late spring, as did the results from the bullets and casings
collected at the scene.
The lab found that there were three different calibers of bullets, which actually lined
up with the witness accounts of there being three shooters.
With little else to go on, Detective Perkins entered the ballistics information she had
into the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network and waited.
It took some time, but a couple of months later, in October, she got several hits.
According to the NIBIN’s database, the guns had been used in a couple different incidents
in Wichita from the year before, in 2016.
Luckily, the records included arrests and convictions, so Detective Perkins was able
to get a list of names of people who had used the firearms in those cases.
But any hope that she had that she’d found James’ killers quickly faded when she realized
that in between these crimes, the firearms had changed hands multiple times.
Even though she didn’t tell our reporter exactly how she was able to confirm this,
she believes that the weapons had changed hands again before 2017, and as a result,
she wasn’t able to connect any of these people on the list to James’ murder.
Well, that’s the hard part, is when you have numerous incidents and you have numerous
guns, they’re obviously being passed from person to person.
From what we can tell, there was no direct connection to the homicide that we know of.
I’m sure there probably is, but because people are not giving us all the information
on the entire story, we don’t know how those people could be connected.
After the NIBIN results didn’t lead to anything concrete, Detective Perkins officially hit
a dead end.
2017 turned into 2018, and although she kept in touch with James’ family, who periodically
gave her names of their own to explore, she was met with the same thing every time she
got a new lead.
Homicide is such an issue in this case, and that’s been the consistent issue that I’ve
talked to with the family, with the media.
It comes to a certain point I get information, but I just don’t get enough to continue on
to pursue charges in this case.
In February 2018, she did get a ray of hope, though.
A call came in from an officer in Saline County, Kansas, about an hour and a half north, and
an officer there said an inmate at the county jail had information for her about James'
So, she went and met with this unnamed inmate.
And while he did claim to have information about James, his story was kind of all over
the place the first time they talked, so she went back to see him a second time to get
But by that point, his story had completely changed, and when she visited him a third
and final time in March, he’d switched up his statement yet again.
Those interviews did not provide anything that I could use because of how different
They were just not consistent.
And I know that that would be an issue in court, when somebody’s story changes so dramatically
Now, I’m fine with somebody that gives me an interview and then maybe wants to add on
or, hey, I forgot, or I just remembered this, but that was not the case.
Ultimately, Detective Perkins realized this guy didn’t have a real lead for her, but was
just looking to make a deal to reduce or improve his sentence.
People that are reaching out to us that are in custody sometimes want, think that if they
give us anything that they can maybe get out of jail free.
We make that very clear up front that that is something that we cannot do.
I can’t make deals with people.
I can only take their information.
That same month, she was contacted by another inmate who also said that he had a lead to
This guy was in Cedric County, which is the county Wichita is located in, so she hoped
that his story might have some real legs to it.
But this was deja vu all over again.
He refused to talk until she made a deal with him, which, of course, she wouldn’t do.
And unfortunately, that is where the case went cold for good.
Detective Perkins continued to keep in touch with James’ family over the years, but she
hasn’t had anything new to share with them.
In 2022, investigators tried to breathe new life into the investigation by holding a big
press conference with local media.
And that is when they released the state’s cold case deck with James featured as its
king of clubs.
But their efforts didn’t bring in any new leads, and his case remains at a standstill.
And while not being able to bring James’ killers to justice has been immensely frustrating
for Detective Perkins, the greatest toll has been on James’ family.
His parents worry that they might never know the truth behind their son’s death, a son
that many believed would have been a standout in his community if his life hadn’t been
cut short by senseless violence.
The way that the music industry has moved and with social media, I mean, it’s changed
I could see that he would be very prevalent in the Wichita area, possibly.
And maybe he’s one of those people that, you know, would work with our kids and our
youth of Wichita, too.
Not everybody does sports.
Not everybody is a football player.
Music is a big thing for people, for creative outlets.
So I would like to think that James would have been a productive member of society with
I could see that he would be that, that big teddy bear that people would come to for that
No one knows something about who killed James, and Detective Perkins believes that it will
just take time for that person to come forward.
But when they do, she’ll be ready.
Sometimes I hope that maybe that time will be beneficial down the road, that maybe somebody
that was there at the party, that maybe somebody’s raising their own child and realizes, I need
to talk to the police, I need to tell them.
We can sit down in any setting.
We can meet in a parking lot.
You can come to my office very inconspicuously.
I can’t promise that you will never have to go to court.
That is part of this.
That is part of this procedure and part of the justice.
But there are family members out there that are hoping that you will come forward to give
that answer and that closure to this family, because they’ve lived in this horror and this
not knowing for years.
And reaching out to us, you know, even just a phone conversation to start out, I would
If you have any information about the murder of James Walker III in 2017, you can call
Detective Perkins’ direct line at the Wichita Police Department.
That number is 316-268-4379.
Or you can email coldcase at wichita.gov.
Now you may have already looked at your feed and noticed that I posted two episodes today.
There is this one and a shorter bonus episode.
You can listen to the story on K. Rue Lolo, the Queen of Hearts from Colorado, now, wherever
you listen to podcasts.
The Deck is an AudioChuck production with theme music by Ryan Lewis.
To learn more about The Deck and our advocacy work, visit thedeckpodcast.com.
So, what do you think, Chuck?
Do you approve?