Sunday, February 11, 2018

My thoughts on the Jayda Kyle murder, Neosho R-5 Junior High investigation and top posts for the week

I do not know what happened to Jayda Kyle.

I know that the Jasper County Prosecuting Attorney's office and law enforcement believe they have the evidence to prove that Jalen Vaden, the live-in boyfriend of three-year-old Jayda's mother Devyn Kyle, committed the child abuse that led to her death and brought second degree murder charges against him. The Turner Report has noted that information by reporting on the probable cause statement and the prosecuting attorney's list of evidence.

I know that Jalen Vaden's lawyer says that the confession was coerced and that things are not as settled as the prosecuting attorney and law enforcement think. That information came from the news conference last week.

I know that Jalen Vaden told Jayda's father, Mac Kyle, that he did not commit the crime, because I have a copy of the letter he sent to Kyle from the Jasper County Jail.

I know that the Children's Division of Social Services believes that Devyn Kyle's father, attorney Judd McPherson manipulated the investigation. That was in documents obtained by the Turner Report and also in a motion to modify filed in Jasper County Circuit Court. I do not know to what purpose that alleged manipulation occurred, just that they believe it occurred, as in the opinion of the Children's Division, and as was alleged in the family court documents.

One thing I do not know is what went down in that Carl Junction home the night Jayda Kyle was abused.

And I am not going to tell you otherwise.

In much of the in-depth reporting I do, I rely on documents, normally court documents, but also other documents. In the Jayda Kyle murder case, there have been numerous other documents, such as reports from the Children's Division and the Juvenile Division (which are court documents to which I would usually not have any access), the letter from Jalen Vaden to Mac Kyle, and in the screenshots of the conversation between Carl Junction City Councilwoman LaDonna Allen and Jayda's Beat founder Becky Kemble.

Documents were also used in the other posts that finished in the top 10 most visited for the Turner Report this week.

A different type of document, a release from Jasper R-5 officials to staff recently and published on the Turner Report was the first time that anyone had spoken publicly on the embezzlement that has shredded district finances.

This week, former board secretary Karla Jessee pleaded guilty and while the Department of Justice issued a news release, the Turner Report examined the court file and discovered a more detailed description of how she was able to pull the wool over the board and district administrators for so long.

A tip from a reader and a check of court documents resulted in the number five story of the week, an upcoming arraignment of a Joplin businessman on drug trafficking charges.

Finally, a collection of documents obtained by citizen Sunshine Law requests and the confirmation that these documents from the Neosho R-5 School District were being examined by the Missouri State Auditor's office resulted in a post detailing financial problems and questions about transparency concerning the Neosho Junior High Building Project.

I will have more coming on that investigation, but that has been delayed by the reaction to the first installment, which led to the creation of even more documents, including a lengthy Facebook rebuttal by Board President Steven Douglas, some questions from former R-5 accountant Rob Singh to Douglas, and a post on the Neosho Daily News Facebook page.

Much of my reporting is based on court documents and other documents that I verify before using. Contrary to what some have said, especially in the overheated response to the Neosho post, I do not go into any kind of investigative report with a preconceived notion of how things will turn out and I have no fear of publicizing anything that is written elsewhere that takes issue with what I have written.

When I make mistakes, I run corrections, not clarifications. I admit I am wrong, I correct my posts and I leave a notation on the post acknowledging that I made a mistake.

And as people who have helped with my investigative reports for the past 40 years plus are fully aware- I never reveal my sources and I make every effort to make sure that others cannot use information from my posts to trace those sources. Many times these are people who can lose their jobs or perhaps have their safety threatened because they see something that is wrong and want to do something about it.

The reason I am writing so much about the investigative reporting process is that two of the top 10 posts this week concern problems with journalism that concern me. While I have been accused a few times over the years of taking a prosecutorial tone in my investigative reporting, I don't know that I have ever taken the steps taken by a reporter and a newspaper this week.

In the number one Turner Report post, LaDonna Allen, who has also done reporting for the Jasper County Citizen and Sarcoxie Record, makes it clear in a public forum that she thinks Jalen Vaden is guilty and that Judd McPherson had no involvement in anything. Two things in her favor. I would imagine that Becky Kemble drove her crazy and provoked that response and Allen has every right to her opinion, but is that the same thing she is telling her readers when she covers hearings in this case? Do they know she already her concept of the truth fixed in her mind?

When I was writing investigative pieces on former Joplin R-8 Superintendent C. J. Huff and the Board of Education, I never made any effort to hide the problems I had with him that led to my dismissal from the district. I made a special effort to document everything I wrote, through documentation or multiple sources and many times with both. I also printed every word of everything C. J. Huff or anyone else said to take issue with what I had written. By doing that every time, when i was able to reveal that the district was preparing to pay $100,000 to replace bleachers in the new high school that were the wrong color and when C. J. Huff told KZRG that the new high school had not failed an inspection and I provided a City of Joplin inspection report that clearly had the word "failed" stamped on it, people knew they were getting facts.

They were able to take my history with Huff and the district into account and believe what i had written because I worked hard to earn that trust.

Will the Carl Junction and Sarcoxie newspapers be treated to the same kind of transparency?

In the number nine post for the week, the Neosho Daily News read R-5 Board President Steven Douglas' response to the Turner Report investigation, then reprinted the Facebook post in its entirety claiming that it was providing the truth to its readers. Serving up a response as the truth and not allowing readers to see what Douglas was responding to does not seem like a service to the Daily's readers, but then again, they are probably used to it.

(For those of you who appreciate the kind of reporting you are not receiving from other area news sources, if you have not already done so, or if you think it has been more than a year since the last time you contributed, consider using the PayPal buttons at the bottom of this post or sending a check to Randy Turner, 2306 E. 8th, Apt. G, Joplin, MO. Thanks for your continued support.)

The Turner Report

1. Reporter/Carl Junction Councilwoman threaten's Jayda's Beat founder, says Vaden guilty, McPherson not involved

2. Press conference claim: Jalen Vaden confession to Jayda Kyle murder was coerced

3. State investigators examining discrepancies, lack of transparency in Neosho Junior High building project

4. Jasper County Prosecuting Attorney outlines evidence against Jalen Vaden

5. Joplin businessman to be arraigned on felony drug trafficking charge

6. Jasper R-5 officials might as well as just opened the drawer and handed Karla Jessee the money

7. Neosho R-5 administrators say there are things they can't tell staff, but they will be transparent about it

8. Former Neosho R-5 accountant: Finance Department told to keep quiet about Junior High project funding errors

9. Neosho Daily News on Junior High investigation: We report news, not speculation or gossip

10. Jalen Vaden to Jayda Kyle's father: I pray that you know I didn't do this to her

Inside Joplin

1. Seven human trafficking victims found during Joplin massage parlor raids

2. Lamar child at Children's Mercy Hospital after being run over in the driveway

3. DWI arrest made at Broadway and St. Louis, driver was asleep with cell phone in hand, two infants in back seat

4. School closings for Monday, February 5

5. Road closed following crash, north of Downstream Casino, south of Galena

6. Freezing rain, snow, sleet expected on Tuesday, wind chills to drop to single digits tonight

7. Joplin woman in critical condition, Afton woman seriously injured in head-on crash on 43

8. Jasper County Dissolution of Marriage Petitions

9. Joplin Police Department: Please delete the child pornography video

10. Mix of sleet, snow, freezing rain expected for Joplin area

Inside Joplin Obituaries

1. Evan White

2. Beverly Heistand

3. Michelle Poulton

4. Kathryn Daniel (aka Sheila Long)

5. Ron Cook

6. Larry Albright

7. Karter Rea

8. Roger Hughes

9. Jerry Jones

10. Reuben Comer


Those wishing to subscribe to the Turner Report/Inside Joplin or to make a contribution of any amount can do so at the PayPal buttons below or mail a check to Randy Turner, 2306 E. 8th, Apt. G, Joplin, MO 64801.

Thanks for your continued support.

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Anonymous said...

Thank you Randy for continuing to bring us pertinent local news, even at the risk of being assaulted (as you were) and all the criticism you face. I appreciate your perseverance.

Anonymous said...

You definitely bring more information to the people in this area!!

What public forum did LaDonna state that Jalen was guilty? I thought it was a private message between her and Becky. It only became public when Becky provided you with the screenshots and you wrote a story on it. It would be nice to see the entire conversation as I am sure the master bully Becky had some choice words for her. Why not do it to be fair? Maybe let everyone know why Becky archived Jayda's Beat and then created a secret group that was going to be unsensored. She stirred up a lot then poof she is gone.

Your stories on Jasper and Neosho school districts need to be told, so tax payers, parents, and employees know the truth.

Kudos to late nights and your strong will to keep everyone informed.

Anonymous said...

Information is communicated significantly different than it was ten years ago, and by way of social media, everyone has an equal platform to communicate it from.

Everyone in the media is struggling to figure out how they can get the edge above the next person/company, and oftentimes the way they feel that they can do that is to break information before anyone else can. A great illustration of this locally is the guy who does "Joplin News First" - he is a couch journalist who simply started streaming videos, and now he is pulling viewers away from local news outlets. People in the media are absolutely terrified for the longevity of their profession, because open-source reporting is catching on.

The problem is that this has led to gross misinformation among the public, and has caused irreparable damage, but only for those who chose to believe what they read without pursuing authenticity. Sadly, I am finding the majority of people are falling in to that category.

The best thing that well-intentioned journalists can do is produce evidence and fact-based content. I don't know if it's worth anything (let alone if any one person will share my perspective), but I feel like you've done a much better job as of late with reporting what's out there, as opposed to my perspective of your writing in years past which was slightly too opinion-laden. Even though I don't have a specific example on hand, I have absolutely been visiting more over the past six months than ever before.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for all you do Randy you are much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone who knows anything takes you seriously Turner. Like most perps you sure like to stir things up and then scurry away from any responsibility when your sundry self-serving exaggerations and outright lies actually hurt people. Since you have no sense of responsibility those who must bear the brunt of the consequences have of course removed you from their professional ranks.

But since you do have a pack of idiot groupies who believe your lies, yes you are noticed by the local adults who must be aware of public relations and counter your lies and exaggerations. Part of being a public figure or official is to keep on top of things even if it is just social media on the Internet -- another headache which didn't exist 25 years ago.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon 7:26, "me thinks you doth protest too much." The first amendment is alive and well and the sun is shining in Missouri. Keep up the good work Mr. Turner. The world is watching. God Bless Jayda Kyle.

Anonymous said...

Come on Randy stop trying to get the truth out there, it hurts peoples feels and its harder for them to look at themselves in the mirror when they see the truth in black and white. Makes it hard for them to lie to themselves and others. I would say that the author of the anonymous love letter is upset they are not able to bully you into silence like they have so many others. Its funny looking back and seeing a pattern.

When it comes time to vote in public officials this idiot (and many others I'm sure) will be very interested in what Randy has to say.

Anonymous said...

Delmar Haase and Devyn Kyle were supposed to be deposed on 02/09/18 at 1pm by Vaden's Attorney. Do you have any information regarding that meeting or do you know if it even took place as scheduled? Will be be hearing about any of that in the news? Do you have any updates regarding the case?

Anonymous said...

Randy when will we hear an update on this? We want justice for Jayda