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Marion vice mayor says she's glad former police chief is gone: 'He scared the heck out of me'

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Posted at 6:31 PM, Oct 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-09 19:42:02-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Monday marked one week since Gideon Cody's resignation as chief of the Marion Police Department.

Vice Mayor Ruth Herbel, whose home was raided on Aug.11, told KSHB 41's Jessica McMaster it's a welcomed advancement in the pursuit of accountability.

"I was very happy to hear that he has resigned," Herbel said. "Now Marion can come together, move forward and get over this."

But some actions cannot be taken back.

"I'll be the first to admit he scared the heck out of me," she said. "It caused stress on my husband and myself."

Day of the raids

As police launched a raid on the Marion County Record and the newspaper publisher's home, more police served a warrant on Herbel's home to confiscate her cellphone and laptop.

Marion body cam footage: Record to Herbel home

Police body camera footage from Aug. 11 shows Herbel sitting at her dining table as Cody accuses her of being a criminal.

Cody: "Now that we know that a crime was committed on that phone, you can see why we have to have that."

Herbel: "Now, wait a minute, you don’t know there was a crime committed on that phone."

Cody: "There is. Possessing that thing alone. Possessing it. Then transferring it to somebody else, even if it’s Brogan, is a crime."

Marion body camera footage: Ruth Herbel

Like the newspaper, Herbel was given a copy of a Kansas Department of Revenue letter addressed to a local restaurant owner.

The letter detailed steps the restaurant owner needed to take in order to have her driver's license reinstated following a DUI.

Herbel shared the information with Brogan Jones, Marion's city administrator.

Cody accused Herbel of identity theft and unlawful acts concerning computers.

Just days after the raids, Marion County attorney Joel Ensey withdrew the warrants, citing a lack of evidence a crime occurred at the places searched.

Cody can be heard on the body camera footage telling Herbel to hire an attorney.

However, it wasn't until Herbel spoke with her son that she understood the severity of the accusations.

"He said, 'Mom they're treating you as a criminal,'" Herbel said. "He says, 'You get the best darn criminal defense attorney you can get.'"

As Herbel recounted her discussion with her son, she started to cry.

"I've lived in this town since '62 and never been treated this way," Herbel said. "It's very emotional for me."

Lifetime of memories

Herbel, along with her husband Ron, raised their family inside a ranch-style Marion home.

The Herbel residence was the place where all the kids in the neighborhood felt welcomed.

"They ran in and out my door like Grand Central Station," Herbel said.

Pictures of Herbel's three children and grandchildren are on display throughout the well-kept home, along with a collection of antiques.

In between tears while talking about the raids, Herbel managed to smile while sharing memories of years past.

"I've lived here over 60 years," Herbel said. "I love this town, and that’s why I'm on city council. I wanted to give back to the community because I think we have a lot to offer."

Lasting impact

Ron, 88, has dementia.

Herbel said her husband answered the door when the police showed up.

Initially, Ron couldn't find Herbel, and he panicked.

Weeks after the raids, she said her husband remained agitated.

"It just really traumatized him. That was probably the worst part of it, what it did to him," Herbel said.

Ron sat in the same spot on the couch for three hours as police executed the warrant, including Cody reading Herbel her Miranda rights as seen in the body-cam footage.

While in her own home, Herbel said Cody put a fear in her that lingers.

"It still bothers me," Herbel said. "I haven't got the energy to clean house and all that ... I guess you could say I don't really care."

Moments after Cody left Herbel's home, he can be seen slouching in a chair at the Marion County Record as police continue to raid the newspaper offices.

"Ruth's information wasn't helpful. She says she only gave it to Brogan," Cody said.

While the situation proved "unhelpful" to Cody's investigation, which many legal experts said provided no evidence of a crime, Cody's decision to raid a newspaper office and two homes continues to impact those who were treated like criminals.

"Find out who's responsible for it and hold them accountable," Herbel said.

Magistrate Judge Laura Viar signed off on the warrants.

Cody accused the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and Ensey of knowing he was seeking warrants.

Ensey acknowledged Cody sent him the warrants, but he told the I-Team he never read them. Instead, Ensey said one of his staff members took the warrants to Viar.

Moving forward

Herbel said she and her husband will recover in time.

"We've never been exposed to anyone like Cody before. He is an arrogant … I won't say what I would like to, but he's just arrogant," Herbel said. "Has a big ego, and I think when he puts this badge on, he just wants to do whatever he wants to do, and you don't do that in a small town."

Cody's suspension came one day after the KSHB I-Team spoke to Brogan Jones, city administrator, about accusations Cody directed a witness to delete text messages.

Four days after Cody's suspension, Cody resigned.

"There's more down there, Jessica, it's going to come to the surface," Herbel told the I-Team.

Herbel said her attorney plans to file a civil suit against Cody in federal court, but right now, they're waiting for more information to be revealed.