A man is accused of sending frightening and violent text messages to relatives shortly after killing his wife, police said.
The first incident occurred last week but was first reported on Monday by local media outlets such as KMBC News based on newly released documents. On Friday morning around 10:30 a.m. local time, police in Kansas City, Missouri, responded to a home in the 7900 block of North Forest after receiving calls from a concerned employer. John Wonder, 31, and his wife Ashli Erhardt, 29, each worked for the same company and were a no-show that day, prompting the company to apply for a welfare check.
Missouri has the third-highest rate of people who have experienced domestic violence, according to World Population Review, adding that 41.8 percent of Missouri women and 35.2 percent of men experience physical violence, sexual violence or stalking by intimate partners.
Upon arrival at the home, officers met with the family of resident Ashli Erhardt, 29. After a search of the home, a body, later identified as Erhhardt, was found in the laundry room, naked, with a belt wrapped around his neck, and with a meat cleaver and a butcher knife. No one else was found in the house at this time. The door to the laundry room was secured with a piece of bungee cord when open. Police also noticed a particularly grisly detail about the body: the word “miracle” was written in blood on one of Erhardt’s legs.
At the scene, family members made unsuccessful attempts to contact Wonder. While the couple was still married, officers learned that they were going through a divorce. Police were later contacted by another family member who shared a screenshot of a frightening message they received from Wonder after he disappeared on Friday: “Hey kid. Sorry about the mess. For the record, it’s a lot easier and a lot more satisfying than you can do.” Imagine. See you.”
Even later, a friend of Wonder’s reached out with several messages he had received from him. In the first message, he claimed he was heading north to Fargo and would soon throw his phone out the car window. The further he continued, the more disturbing and violent the news became.
“Now exhausted, in anger I placed her gems next to her body. Her third eye shakra, her moonstone, blah blah blah – they have done you a lot of good, darling,” one message read.
“I’m sitting in the car. I have no doubt I’ll get caught today.” [Redacted] What a girl. To honor her, I will go out not by a gunshot (suicide by cop), but by a hopefully similar fate [redacted]” read another.
“Some little town in northern Missouri – I guess they’re about to find her body. I got the first calls at 9:30 a.m. I’m sure.” [redacted] “Phone received the same thing,” Wonder wrote in another message.
Wonder was finally arrested later that day in Valentine, Nebraska, a small town of fewer than 3,000 people near the state line with South Dakota, about 500 miles northwest of Kansas City. He was taken into police custody and charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in connection with the alleged killing of his wife.
Newsweek I emailed the Kansas City Police Department for comment.