Jim Alonzo never returned home after leaving on his daily morning walk the morning of Sept. 25, 2000. Investigators have never been to fully answer why he didn't complete his walk.
Alonzo was struck and killed in a hit-and-run at Northwest 15th Street and Northwest Hearnes Avenue while taking that walk, but who exactly hit Alonzo has proved vexing for Blue Springs Police.
They are hoping a fresh plea to the public will yield the necessary information to solve the cold case.
“It's possible the incident that involved Jim's death was just an accident, but we won't know that until we talk to the driver of the car that hit Jim,” Sgt. Mike Russell said during a briefing with media Thursday. Several members of the Alonzo family, including Jim's widow Lana, were in attendance, but the family did not speak with media.
Alonzo, 67, took his walk about 5:30 a.m. every morning, Russell said, and rarely deviated from his route. His body was found by the side of road about 6:20 a.m.
“They called it a religious walk, every day, for about 3 miles,” Russell said. “He did that rain or shine.”
The wet, cloudy conditions at dawn didn't help officers in preserving the scene and collecting evidence, Russell said, and the lack of traffic at that point hampered the search for witnesses. Lab tests of vehicle particles at the scene ruled out the vehicles of interest to police.
“We know that there are good people out there who want to do the right thing,” Russell said. “If that means you were told information all those years ago or any time since then regarding this case, and you want to come forward, this would be a really good time.
“If you are the person or persons responsible for the accident that killed Jim, and it's been weighing heavy on your minds, this would be a good time for you to come forward and have a talk with us.”
When asked why police were putting a 17-year-old cold case back in the public eye, Russell said he had started to get frustrated at not finding anything new every time he reviewed the case.
“What can we utilize now that wasn't back then,” he said. “The social media platform is huge right now; we've had some crimes that were solved just because of social media recently.”
Russell also said some newer technology might yield some clues in reconstructing the incident.
“It can help us tell the story,” he said.
The bottom line, Russell said, is that he wants to provide some closure to the family of Alonzo, a man devoted to family and faith who had recently retired after 43 years with the Santa Fe Railroad when he was killed. Referring to Lana, he said, “Not a day that goes by where she doesn't think about him.”
Anyone with information about the accident is urged to call the police department media line at 816-228-0100, the dispatch center at 816-228-0151 or the TIPS hotline at 816-474-8477 or email www.KCcrimestoppers.com. All information is anonymous, and any information leading to an arrest and/or charges could be eligible for up to $2,000 in reward money.