While Randy Potter’s family and friends were searching across states to find him for the past eight months, his body was decomposing in a truck at a nearby airport.
They organized search parties, scoured through local parks and enlisted the help of a private investigator. But the entire time, Potter was already dead, apparently by suicide, at a location where the family had previously searched for him, his wife, Carolina Potter, said.
“What kills me the most was I was there … he could’ve been found the first week,” Carolina told The Washington Post. She lives in Lenexa, Kan., about 35 minutes from the airport, without traffic.
Police found Potter’s body inside his work vehicle at the Kansas City International Airport Sept. 12 after they were alerted to a foul odor, the Kansas City Star reported.
Potter’s family is furious and demanding answers from local authorities, who they say let them down.
“The integrity of my father, his body … it just soiled because he sat in this vehicle for eight months. Through summer, cooking in the Midwestern heat, for eight months,” Potter’s daughter Nichole told The Post. “It’s disgusting. It’s a disgusting thought.”
Chris Hernandez, director of communications for the city of Kansas City, issued the following statement to local media following the discovery of Potter’s body:
“The City of Kansas City and its Aviation Department express our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Randy Potter. We wish them peace during this difficult time. We are working with all parties to determine the facts involved, including SP Plus, which manages the 25,000 parking spaces at Kansas City International Airport.”
The Kansas International Airport police and the Lenexa Police Department could not be reached for comment early Monday.
Carolina, who is a flight attendant, searched the airport parking lot within a week of her husband being reported missing and said authorities reassured her that, if he was in the parking lot, they would find him.
Carolina and others close to him gave a description of the vehicle — a white 2014 Dodge Ram — and his license plate number and were told that airport security checked the lots on a regular basis.
So the family continued searching elsewhere.
They enlisted the help of private investigator John Underhill, telling him not to waste his time at the airport because the airport personnel had it covered. The family did not go back to the airport either, Carolina said.
Potter, 53, was a project engineer at T-Mobile, Carolina said. The Potter’s attorney, John Picerno, and investigator Underhill told The Post they believe Potter, a Navy veteran, died the same day he was reported missing, meaning his body sat in his truck at the airport from January to September.
“Every single entity failed my husband. Every single one,” Carolina said.
Picerno said he is going to piece together what went wrong in the search for Potter. The family wants to make sure no one else goes through a similar ordeal, he said.
The family spoke at a news conference Friday because they think it’s important for people to know what happened to Potter, his daughter Nichole said.
“I want whatever changes to come about from all of this to be permanent,” Potter’s daughter Nichole said. “I don’t want for someone to have to sit there for as long as my dad did.”
Local media outlets covered Potter’s disappearance in January. Underhill logged 4,000 miles searching for Potter. Nichole carried a stack of fliers whenever she went out of town, even handing them out in downtown Denver on Father’s Day.
Carolina, Potter’s wife, headed search parties and tried to stay positive that he would be found one day. But she had a feeling something bad happened.
Investigator Underhill wishes he never trusted airport security. He passed the airport almost daily these past eight months and believes if he had searched the parking lots for Potter he would have found him sooner than authorities.
“They dropped the ball,” Underhill said of police. “If I would’ve checked that airport, I would’ve found him. That’s just the way I am.”
Potter’s family anguished over his disappearance for eight months and now they are grappling as well with knowing he was decomposing as they searched for him. Carolina said she was shocked to find out last week that his body withered away there “in plain sight.”
As Carolina described how her mind wanders to the days the heat was up in the 100 degrees and what her husband’s body must’ve smelled like, she started to cry.
“My heart breaks every time I think about that,” she said. “I feel awful for thinking about him inside of that truck.”
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