Early investigation gives few answers to quadruple homicide in Edgerton

The investigation seems to be playing out a bit like a movie with a grotesque mixture of violence, police drama and frankly unbelievable details.

What started out as a deadly house fire has continued to devolve into a nightmare for the small community of Edgerton, Mo. The storyline here would need a creative writer to become a fictitious work in Hollywood.

Trying to grasp the enormity of the situation remains difficult.

Right now, answers are few, and I’d suspect we will end up with unsettling details at some point. That could’ve happened by the time you read this column or we might have to wait until this complex investigation plays out over a period of weeks or months, maybe even years.
I’ve watched enough true crime to know the first person to come up can often be the most likely culprit.

In this case, a relative of the four victims found burned outside the home on rural Buena Vista Road became an immediate person of interest. Then authorities in Arizona found him walking naked in a town of less than 500, the car he allegedly stole from his grandparents found nearby — a pile of clothes outside of it and stolen license plates from an Oklahoma rental car on it.

Like I said, the details are bizarre.

The early part of the case developed fast from structure fire to fatal structure fire to suspected homicide. A coroner later confirmed the manner of death as homicide and so now the hunt for a killer in a small town commences.

The outpouring of support is so lovably small town and representative of this part of the country.

More than 100 gathered for a prayer service. One of the city’s most recognizable business fronts posted a heartfelt message to its Facebook. Family and community members were all too obligant to provide unofficial confirmation of the victims’ identities — a set of grandparents, their granddaughter and great grandson, their pictures splashed across local, regional and national newscasts.

Officials will wait until tests come back, but as people close to the family have said, they know who lived there and who hasn’t been seen since the fire.

The intense media coverage will die down if the investigation drags on, but based on the early reaction, the people of Edgerton and those who knew the Denhams will continue to seek an answer to this tragedy.


I ended up spending time covering the Missouri State Wrestling Championships while trying to stay up to date on the tragic news back home.

Unfortunately, I was busy staying on top of another story of tragedy. Platte County senior Ethan Karsten won his third individual state championship just six days after learning of the death of his older brother and Platte County graduate Jourdan Karsten, who was just 20 years old.

Knowing the circumstances for Ethan Karsten, I could not have been more impressed to watch him perform and achieve with such a heavy heart. 

Karsten’s four pins in about 8 total minutes of mat time would have been an amazing performance on their own. That he did so to honor his brother’s memory while dealing with grief?

That’s a strong, talented kid.

Read more about his story starting on page 7 of this week’s edition. You don’t have to be a sports fan to appreciate this.


In what turned into a busy news cycle, we also have the start of filing season for state and county elections.

A quick review of the early returns leads to a familiar question: where are all the Democrats in Platte County? Duane Soper long ago decided not to run for re-election to his second district Platte County commissioner spot.

On the first day of filings (Tuesday, Feb. 23), three republicans filed for the August primary. There were no Democrats for this spot and only one in all of the early filings: Tom Burke entering the race to be the next Platte County sheriff.

More could come in, but who knows? Republicans have been dominating the political landscape in Platte County for a while and that shows no sign of changing with this election.  

Ross Martin is publisher of The Citizen. He may be reached via email at editor@plattecountycitizen.com. Follow him on Twitter: @Citizen_Ross.