Family of missing teen hopes court records put pressure on those responsible to speak up

Posted at 10:16 PM, Feb 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-02 23:16:53-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Feb. 2 marks nine months to the day that a Liberty teen vanished, and nine months of pain for her family.

They hope a search warrant investigators' filed will help solve the case. 

The search warrant asks for Ferris's email and phone accounts, but Liberty police wouldn't tell 41 Action News what information the warrant returned.

“It’s going to be 278 days. 278 days since I last saw her,” Patti Tam said through tears, sitting at her kitchen table.

The words are excruciating for a mother to say.

Instead of holding her youngest child, Desirea Ferris, Tam holds a necklace close to her heart instead.

“My mom gave it to me for Christmas,” Tam said. “It has Desirea’s name and birthstone on it.”

Reminders of Ferris’s radiant and happy existence in the home are everywhere, from countless pictures showing the teen’s big, brown eyes to the pink missing person posters taped to the outside of the home.

Ferris went missing last spring, on May 2. 

On Feb. 11, the family will celebrate Ferris’s 19th birthday without her.

“I don’t want details. I just want to know where my daughter is. I want her home,” Tam cried.

A family’s investigation

As the days pass, and the heartbreak becomes unbearable for the family, the drive to put the pieces together gnaws at a family friend named Spike.

Spike, who just wants to be called by his first name, has spent months tracing Ferris’s steps before she vanished. He’s either out on his motorcycle or his truck, tracking people down.

“All my work that I do on the case is done here. Constantly out driving, searching areas, doing some mapping,” Spike said.

Now, he’s matching up his information with court records that reveal more details told to Liberty investigators straight from the people who saw the teen last. 

“She was too trustworthy of people. She always gave everybody the benefit of the doubt,” Tam said of her daughter. “She didn’t deserve this.”

​​​​​​The timeline

While Liberty police have not named anyone as a suspect, the records show Robert Jason Keegan picked Ferris and her sister up from their Liberty home around 4 a.m. on May 1 in a white pickup truck. 

Keegan is now in federal prison on drugs and weapons charges.

Based on Ferris’s phone pings Spike obtained from the family, the three visited different locations throughout the morning, including abandoned houses known for drug activity.

One of those homes is at 27th & Oakley, where Spike took 41 Action News in previous coverage.

The records show Keegan dropped the girls off at a McDonald’s on 31st and Van Brunt around 4:30 p.m., where a man named Mark Arzola picked them up and drove them to a McDonalds on 291 Highway in Liberty.

“I think probably within hours of leaving here, she realized what situation she got herself into and knew she wasn’t going to make it home,” Spike said.

Ferris’s sister told police she got out of the car, but Ferris stayed, and left with Arzola.

Arzola is now in Cass County Jail for violating his probation on a drug conviction and resisting arrest.

From the Liberty McDonald’s, Arzola told police he and Ferris went back to his house on Highland in south Kansas City, Missouri.  The house is a place her family has gone to several times demanding answers after her disappearance.

But Spike says there is a discrepancy in what Arzola told Ferris’s family and what he told police.  

Ferris’s stepmom, Jennifer Ferris, says Arzola told her directly that he and Ferris went to a soccer field off Blue River Road before going to his house.

“The story has altered the three times I’ve talked to him,” Spike said.

Arzola told police Ferris left his house around 1:30 a.m. May 2.  He said a white pickup truck pulled into his driveway, Desirea got in, and left.

Investigators found out Keegan and Ferris exchanged 23 texts that night from around 10:20 p.m. to 10:58 p.m., leading the investigator in the case to believe Keegan may have picked her up from Arzola’s house.

“We got into her Facebook.  She was messaging with Keegan and kept saying ‘I’m tired, I want to go home,’” Tam said.

The records show Ferris’s sister got a text from Ferris around 1 a.m. saying she was coming home.  The last text Ferris sent her sister read “Ok” at 3 a.m.

Arzola says he last heard from Ferris around 2:35 a.m. via text, discussing clothes she’d left at his house.

Ferris’s last cell phone ping was at an abandoned house off 83rd and Hillcrest at 4:11 a.m. May 2. At that time, phone records show all her phone activity stopped.

The police investigation

Liberty police have not named persons of interest, and are tight-lipped about their investigation, but say they’ve received hundreds of tips. 

Cpt. Andy Hedrick said the Ferris case has even taken precedence over some felony cases.

“We believe the keys to this case lie in people and places in south Kansas City,” Hedrick told 41 Action News.

Until they find a key that fits, Tam urges those who know where Ferris is to speak up, so she can bring her baby girl home.

“Her story is going to save probably a lot of little girls who are in her situation, and that’s going to be the only good thing that comes out of this,” Tam said.  “She was always out to help somebody.”

Ferris has an army of supporters who continue to search and spread the word about what happened.

Someone who has information about what happened to Ferris and where she’s at can submit a tip anonymously to the police or the TIPS Hotline. There is a $4,000 reward.