Kansas City police detectives investigating the killings of two doctoral researchers in Midtown were granted a search warrant Sunday by a Jackson County judge to obtain digital information stored on an Alexa virtual assistant as they continue to search for a murder suspect.
Detectives discovered the Amazon, Inc. device on Saturday during a search of the apartment, according to a separate search warrant application filed in Jackson County Circuit Court. Investigators say they believe the device may contain evidence directly related to the homicide investigation.
"This device is voice-activated and responds to voice communication within the confines of the residence," a Kansas City detective wrote in the warrant application. "Detectives believe that based on physical evidence at the scene, the suspect spent a considerable amount of time" in the apartment where the victims were found.
"Detectives further believe there may have been verbal communication between the two victims and the suspect during the commission of the homicides."
As of Sunday, homicide detectives were awaiting that digital data from Amazon. Kansas City police had yet to identify a suspect in the killings as of Tuesday morning, and issued a call for neighbors to share surveillance photos or footage that may have been recorded in the general area between late Friday night and Saturday morning.
Authorities discovered the bodies of the two homicide victims - Camila Behrensen, 24, and Pablo Guzmán Palma, 25 - after the Kansas City Fire Department was called around 5 a.m. to investigate a report of smoke coming from an apartment building in the 4100 block of Oak Street. Kansas City police have said Behrensen and Guzmán Palma suffered traumatic injuries not caused by the fire.
Behrensen, of Buenos Aires, and Guzmán Palma, of Santiago, Chile, were both pre-doctoral medical researchers with the Stowers Institute for Medical Research. In a statement Monday, Stowers said the pair were part of the 2020 class "and vibrant members of our Stowers Institute community.
"Our deepest sympathies are with their families at this difficult time," the institute said in its statement.
Stowers declined to comment further on Tuesday. A family friend of the Behrensens said they will not be making a statement.
On Tuesday, the building showed signs of fire damage including a broken second-story window and charred brick. A neighbor in the building said he heard loud noises around 3:30 a.m. Saturday that sounded like stomping. A couple hours later, he awoke to blue and red lights.
The killings of Behrensen and Guzmán Palma marked the 125th and 126th homicides in Kansas City this year, according to data tracked by The Star. Last year, the city saw a total of 157 homicides, representing the second-deadliest year in its history.
Police were asking anyone with information regarding the homicides to call KCPD homicide detectives at 816-234-5043, or the anonymous TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS.
The Star's Anna Spoerre contributed to this report.