Courthouse surveillance video appears to show man at the center of 41 Action News investigation

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - It appears the man at the center of a 41 Action News investigation has turned up on surveillance video, possibly connecting him to a real estate fraud scheme.

Through an open-records request, 41 Action News obtained surveillance video of the Jackson County Courthouse in downtown Kansas City.

The video, taken on Jan. 17, shows the security checkpoint at the main entrance to the courthouse.

A man who looks like Willis Watson is seen entering the building at about 1 p.m. Watson is the person 41 Action News connected to a series of questionable deeds, including the apparent forged signatures of people who had been dead for years.

The most recent deeds were filed and date-stamped at 1:08 p.m. on Jan. 17. Shortly after that time, the man who looks like Watson is seen leaving the courthouse.

One of the deeds filed that day is a home on Forest Avenue that belonged to Phyllis Rippley, who told 41 Action News she never signed the document.

41 Action News eventually discovered Watson working and cleaning inside the home on Forest Avenue, and questioned him about the deeds.

Bill Black, a law professor at UMKC, said it was a clever part of the scheme to file the deeds at the courthouse, like there was nothing to hide.

"That's the paradox. Here, your defense is saying you were doing everything to act like an honest purchaser of the property," Black said. "Filing the quit claim deeds is much different than just going into a vacant property and taking it over."

Sources tell 41 Action News that Watson recently changed his name to Willis King, the same name as his father.

41 Action News confirmed this tip by finding a November judgment for child support payments. The judgment was against a Willis L. King with the same birthday and last four social security numbers as earlier police reports and child support documentation against a Willis L. Watson.

That would explain why the eight most recent questionable deeds have been transferred to Willis King. During the initial investigation, 41 Action News questioned the elder King, who said he had no idea about any of the properties.

Previous coverage:

On Monday, a 41 Action News uncovered a real estate fraud scheme , including apparent forged signatures of dead people.

On Tuesday, 41 Action News questioned if the stamps and signatures of Missouri notaries were also forged on deeds.

Ryan Kath can be reached at ryan.kath@kshb.com. You can also follow him on Twitter or connect with him on Facebook.

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