This case was ruled accidental and cause of death was hypothermia and drowning. However, due to the circumstances prior to death, I believe it might be foul play.
Toni Anderson, 20, was a server at Chrome, a gentleman’s club in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. Around 4:10 a.m. on January 15, 2017, Toni left work and headed to another strip joint, The Shady Lady, to meet up with friends.
At 4:30 a.m., a North Kansas City police officer pulled Toni over for an improper lane charge at the corners of 26th and Burlington Streets near a QuikTrip (QT) gas station almost 10 miles northwest of Chrome and five miles northwest of The Shady Lady. She had been sitting there for 12 minutes and was on the left hand side of the the road with the car’s left signal light blinking.
When Officer Bill Ficken approached Toni’s car and began speaking with her, he noticed her words appeared to slur. He asked her if she had been drinking or taking any kind of a medication to which Toni responded, “No, I’m just really sick. I don’t feel good.”
Even though Toni appeared intoxicated, Ficken did not make her take a sobriety test or issue a ticket for improper lane usage when it was clear she was going the wrong way. Instead, he told Toni to pull into the QT gas station across the street to “gather herself”.
QT video surveillance shows Toni pulling into the gas station where she gets gas. She walks into the station to pay for the gas and heads back to her car where she drives away. There are no other customers in the store at the time. However, another car is seen pulling away from the convenience store right after Toni.
At 4:42 a.m., Toni sent a text to one of her friends.
OMG just just (sic) pulled over again.
Toni vanished soon after and was never seen alive again.
For two months police and volunteers searched for Toni Anderson. Because of the weird text she sent her friend that morning, people wondered if she was pulled over by police a second time. However, there is no record of this happening. Her friend said she had been pulled over before January 15, so that is why she probably texted “again”.
The GPS in Toni’s Ford Focus had been turned off shortly after she vanished.
A ping from a cell phone tower at English Landing Park in Parkville, Missouri led authorities to search that area.
On March 8, 2017, sonar detected a car in the Missouri River near Platte Landing Park, which is next to English Landing Park. A few days later, divers retrieved the car from the river. It was Toni’s car and she was still inside. Toni was still wearing the clothes she was last seen in.
A black SUV was also pulled from the river during the recovery of Toni’s car. The vehicle was wedged behind Toni’s Ford Focus, but police said it was unrelated to Toni’s case.
The official manner of death was accidental and cause of death was hypothermia and drowning. Toxicology reports indicated ethanol, cocaine, and amphetamines were in her system at the time of death.
It is not exactly known how Toni and her car ended up in the Missouri River, only theories. She pulled over to sleep on the boat ramp, and the car rolled into the river. She slid down the icy boat ramp while trying to turnaround. She got turned around and ended up at the park. Toni drove right down the boat ramp and into the river.
There are conflicting reports regarding the traffic stop. Right after Toni vanished, a KCPD spokesperson said there was no record of Toni being pulled over at all. One week later, Ficken logged the traffic stop.
Another KCPD spokesman, Darin Snapp told media that Toni told Ficken she was “almost out of gas” and that he had directed her to a QuikTrip gas station nearby.
“So the officer just told her, you know, ‘there’s a gas station right there’, gave her a warning for the violation, and watched her actually go to the QuikTrip and that’s the last we have seen of her.” Toni NEVER mentioned needing gas in her car, although she did purchase gas afterwards.
Too many conflicting reports are never good in an investigation, no matter what side of the law you are on.
This case is officially closed.
After Toni’s death, her parents filed a lawsuit against Chrome.
True Crime Diva’s Thoughts
I realize this could very well be an accident, but in my opinion, there are too many discrepancies and questions in the case to rule out foul play. I know there is no evidence to suggest foul play but Toni and her car were found in water. There goes the evidence.
I have so many issues with the handling of this case. I don’t believe this was an accident. I think Toni was murdered.
North Kansas City PD Issues
So many issues here, it’s ridiculous.
Ficken told Toni – a lone, young, pretty female – to gather herself in the QT parking lot at 4:30 in the morning, not caring about her safety.
Officer Ficken did not issue a sobriety test and let Toni go, believing she was under the influence. Not many police officers would do this. In fact, I can’t even understand WHY he just let her go. Maybe if had arrested her, she’d still be alive.
Why didn’t Ficken issue a ticket for the improper lane charge? Clearly, she was on the wrong side of the street. This traffic stop makes no sense.
In the dashcam video, another NKCPD cop in a black SUV drives by Toni and Ficken. Later, a black police SUV pulls up next to Ficken in the parking lot across from QT immediately after Ficken. What is that other cop doing there?
In the above photo with the colored circles representing the 3 vehicles, if you watch the actual video, at 1:37, you can clearly see Toni’s right turn signal on, her turning into QT and TWO vehicles behind her. One is Ficken, the other is that unknown cop. You see Ficken hit his brake lights as he’s approaching the State Farm parking lot. There were 3 cars, not 2. Why are police protecting this other cop? Why have they not explained who he was and why he was there?
There was no need for backup, obviously. We see the vehicle TWICE – once during the traffic stop and again when he pulls into the parking lot (State Farm) where Ficken watches Toni at QT. It’s just strange to me.
I find it a little strange Ficken pulled into the parking lot to watch Toni. If you watch the full video, he leaves after Toni walks back to her car from the store. What was the point of watching her? Maybe he just pulled in there to chat with the other cop, I don’t know. But it’s a little weird, in my opinion. I’d love to know the conversation between Ficken and the mysterious cop. Something just isn’t right here.
In the full dash cam video (over 22 minutes long), Ficken appears to turn south on Burlington after leaving the parking lot, and he keeps driving. He ends up in what appears to be the industrial area of North Kansas City. I don’t know why this was released because there’s nothing to it that I can tell. Maybe it was to prove he didn’t follow Toni. But what about the other cop?
Why didn’t Ficken log this traffic stop right away versus one week later? He knew he pulled her over. He knew she was missing, and yet there was no record of the stop when she went missing. All of Ficken’s and the police department’s actions regarding Toni make me believe there’s more to this than meets the eye.
Is it possible that one or both of these police officers killed Toni? Yes and it’s more logical to me than Toni driving into a river miles from where she was pulled over and in the opposite direction of where she lived.
We do not know when Toni actually died. We know when she went missing and when she was found, but nothing in between, like the drive from QT to Platte Landing Park, for example. Where’s the CCTV footage? If she actually drove from North KC to Parkville, her car would have been seen on traffic cams.
Yes, Toni did do some weird things that night, but it doesn’t mean this was an accidental death.
I’m probably most confused about Toni being in North Kansas City. From what I understand, she knew the KC area well. If she was in fact headed to The Shady Lady after leaving Chrome, why was she in NKC?
Toni was pulled over heading east on 26th at the intersection of 26th and Burlington. Did someone at Chrome provide false directions to The Shady Lady? Why is she on 26th at all? If you drive west on 26th, it leads to a dead end, so she had to turn around in order to be facing east.
Why was she just sitting at the corner for 12 minutes before Ficken showed up? Was she waiting for someone? Did Ficken just come across her or did someone call it in? That’s what the cops say anyway. It doesn’t make sense to me nor does it fit with the timeline.
I don’t believe the QT video shows Toni intoxicated or “hammered” as her mother said. She walks in and out without stumbling and seems to walk normally. At least, that is how it appears to me. I’m not convinced Toni was on drugs at this point.
What about the other car? It looks like a Cadillac maybe? The driver pulls out right after Toni and follows her out of the parking lot. There is no other person in QT when Toni is inside. However, Toni was at QT for about 7 minutes and we only see less than two minutes of video. But could the driver of this car be responsible for her death?
The Text and Timeline
Toni sent that last text at 4:42 saying she got pulled over AGAIN. She left QT at 4:40. Originally, police said she sent the text after she left QT but then changed the story to say that Toni sent the text while still at QT. Did they lie to make the timeline work for them?
The timeline just does not add up.
Toni left Chrome at 4:10. Ficken pulled her over at 4:30. The traffic stop was about 5 minutes long, then Toni went to QT where she remained for about 7 minutes. She had been sitting at 26th & Burlington for 12 minutes before Ficken even arrived. How cops knew this is beyond me.
It is hard to get an accurate timeline when reports differ on the exact time she left Chrome and when Ficken pulled her over. However, if you base the timeline around the QT video where you can see the time, it makes no sense.
What is clear is when Toni pulled out of QT – 4:40 a.m. which means she did not send the text while at QT. She had to send it AFTER QT. I think that 2nd cop pulled her over again and that is what her 4:42 a.m. text meant. What happened after that is a mystery.
I think it’s possible someone slipped her something at Chrome. For what reason, I have no idea. Toni told Ficken she was really sick and didn’t feel good. She sounded genuine, I thought. So, maybe it was from that or maybe she truly did not feel good.
If she was on the amount of drugs they say she was that night, it would have been completely obvious to the cop she was on something other than alcohol. All he asked was, “Have you been DRINKING?” or “Are you on any medication?” He never asked her if she was using drugs. And just because she messes up her words in the video, that does not mean she was drunk or high. In fact, she said in the video that he made her really nervous.
It would also have been obvious on the QT video she was drunk and high, and it wasn’t. She seemed fine.
How is it possible drugs were still in her system when she was found? She’d supposedly been in the river since the morning she vanished? I’m no expert, just curious. Does water preserve it? Maybe someone can chime in on this.
One of Toni’s friends said in an interview that she was a heavy marijuana user and smoked weed the day she vanished. Why was THC – the main psychoactive compound found in marijuana – not found in her system when toxicology tests were taken?
How hard is it to fabricate a report?
Was Toni Lost?
How did Toni end up on 26th and Burlington in North Kansas City when she was driving to The Shady Lady? Did she lie to Ficken and was really headed somewhere else? Was she sitting at the corner for 12 minutes because she was supposed to meet someone?
If Toni was lost, why didn’t she phone a friend? Her parents? Her boyfriend? Toni did not use her cell phone after she texted her friend at 4:42 and one report said her phone was shut off after that text was sent.
Why didn’t she ask the QT store clerk for directions to downtown where The Shady Lady is and where she lived? Or ask Ficken, for that matter? It makes NO sense that Toni was in North Kansas City. She had a reason for being there, so what was it? I don’t believe she was lost.
Below is a map, starting at Chrome with a final destination of Platte Landing Park. As you can see, The Shady Lady is closer to Chrome than QT. Platte Landing Park is in Parkville, and quite a ways from downtown. I just can’t wrap my head around her being in North KC or where her body was found.
Platte Landing Park and the Boat Ramp
There are plenty of places for Toni to park at Platte Landing Park if she really drove there to sleep, which is what some people think. I do not believe Toni drove here on her own. If she wanted to sleep and was capable of driving this far, she could have driven home or to a friend’s house.
As you can see from the image above, there are two parking lots Toni could have pulled into to sleep. She would have come to them before the boat ramp.
This case makes no sense, but personally, I do not believe this was an accidental death. When a police department can’t keep stories straight, there’s a problem.