‘That first kill is the hardest:’ Wichita police search for cold-case killer

Almost 30 years ago, a young man is shot dead in his Wichita home. Left behind? Few clues and many questions.
Updated: Jul. 5, 2022 at 10:00 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Almost 30 years ago, a young man is shot dead in his Wichita home. Left behind? Few clues and many questions. Factfinder 12 investigator Alex Flippin sat down with the family of Christopher Spivey who tell him that all they really want are the answers.

At 22 years old, most are just beginning to figure out what life will look like. Christopher Spivey was no exception but was already ahead of the pack.

“He had been in the marines. He was out about six months. You know, like any young kid...looking to go into college and stuff like that,” Wichita Police Detective Tim Relph said. “He was just kind of getting back into the civilian life.”

Chris recently started in the manager training program at a Wichita McDonalds restaurant. He rented a small place of his own and started plotting his future, according to his stepmother Lisa Dean and his sister Cathryn Monroe.

“I think he wanted to be a teacher. He had talked to me about being a teacher,” Dean said.

“That’s what I remember,” Monroe added. “And for some reason I remember it being English, but when I look at his grades, English is probably not the subject that it was, but I do remember a teacher.”

Chris wouldn’t get the chance to be a teacher, a manager...anything, but what he was on March 14, 1995.

“Christopher didn’t show up for work as a manager of McDonald’s,” Detective Relph said. “(Another manager) sent another employee over there, and they...knocked on the door, and the door kind of popped open and he saw Christopher in the room.”

Chris lay dead. Beaten and shot. Several items...coats, a VCR and a TV were all missing from his small home on North Elizabeth.

“I think I understood it more than my younger brother, but it was hard. I do remember a lot of ‘whys,’ trying to process that confusion…terrified,” Chris’ sister said.

Cathryn was just ten years old when she learned her brother had been murdered. Now, with children of her own, she realizes how much she lost by losing him so early.

“I feel like I’ve missed out on getting to know fully who my brother was, you know, I got to see him as the big older brother,” she explained. “I didn’t get to know that part of him. And so then there’s that loss, you know what our relationship could have been, that I have to process as well. I had to process what his relationship would be like with my kids.”

Few clues led to few leads, according to Detective Relph.

“It certainly appears that it was someone he was familiar with, you know, probably let him in,” he said.

Though the case sits cold nearly thirty years later, that passage of time may very well be what helps catch Chris’ killers. There’s a better chance the killer or killers have told more people about this story. They’re also much older now.

“Older criminals tend to lose reach, the ability to reach out and touch somebody. And so I’m kind of hoping some of that dynamic has taken place,” Relph said.

Killers that are possibly less intimidating now and with less ability to scare someone from coming forward. Make no mistake though, Relph says, they’re still too dangerous to remain free.

“For any killer that first kill is the hardest. Once you justify killing somebody, for one person it’s a whole hell of a lot easier to justify the second,” he said.

Since Chris Spivey’s murder, his sister Cathryn has lost her mother, her father and her other brother. She says each of them died without the answers she says they needed to be able to rest in peace. If you have any of those answers, contact police here.

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