'This is an epidemic for women': Suspect in Olathe woman's murder had previous stalking charges

Jessica Smith
Posted at 5:40 PM, Jul 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-10 18:43:38-04

JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. — People in an Olathe neighborhood woke up to horrific news Sunday morning that a mother who lived nearby had been murdered.

"Just still kind of blown away about it…. I didn't think nothing like that would happen in this neighborhood," Anthony Blurton, who lives close by, said on Sunday.

Police said the victim is Jessica Smith, a mother and grandmother. In a Facebook fundraiser, a family member wrote her death was senseless and inhumane.

The man accused of her murder is Clyde James Barnes, Jr. In a press release from Thursday, police said the Kansas City, Missouri, man is charged with premeditated first-degree murder, aggravated burglary, unlawful tampering with electronic monitoring, criminal threat and violation of a protection order.

41 Action News discovered that he was charged for stalking Smith after an incident in March.

That court date got delayed because of COVID-19.

"There is a huge backlog in the criminal justice system right now, and it's not just here in Johnson County, but across the country," Johnson County, Kansas, District Attorney Steve Howe said. "It is probably one of the biggest challenges ever faced by our judicial system in its history."

Safehome, a domestic violence shelter in Johnson County said they are trying to get victims the help they need, even when waiting for court hearings.

"We want to work with victims and survivors and help them understand that when you decide to leave or when you file a legal document, that is the most dangerous time for you," Heidi Wooten, CEO of Safehome, said.

Wooten said when the stay-at-home orders started to lift, they started to see more cases of stalking and domestic violence.

"This is an epidemic for women. Stalking and domestic violence is an epidemic for women," Wooten said.

Shelter leaders want victims to know that they will work to protect them no matter what.

"We have to look at the barriers that COVID has given to those people and how we can make it better and how we can work together to make sure people are safe," Wooten said.

Those who need help can call Safehome at 913-262-2868, or the KCPD domestic violence hotline at 816-468-5463.

Barnes' bond is set at $1,000,000. He appeared in court on Friday, where a judge appointed him a public defender. He is set to be back in court on July 15.