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Three men were found dead outside a Kansas City home after watching the Chiefs. Two weeks later, it’s still not clear what killed them


By Thomas Lake, CNN

(CNN) — On January 7, a group of Kansas City Chiefs fans got together to watch the last game of the regular season. Three of those friends never came home. The night passed, and the next day, and the night after that, and the next day. Their families grew increasingly anxious. Finally, on the night of Tuesday the 9th, a woman called the police after making a horrifying discovery.

“I got a call at work telling me that my son had passed,” said Jennifer Marquez, mother of one of the men. “And that they found him frozen in the backyard.”

Her son, David Harrington, 37, was found dead outside a friend’s home in the Kansas City Northland. So were Ricky Johnson, 38; and Clayton McGeeney, 36. Police said they found “no obvious signs of foul play.”

No one has been arrested or charged. A medical examiner is investigating to see what caused the men’s deaths. An attorney for the man who lived at the home where the dead men were found said his client was cooperating with authorities.

“So he’s devastated by the loss of his friends,” John Picerno told CNN affiliate KMBC. “If there was something he could’ve done to help them, he would’ve done it.”

But more than two weeks later, the mystery continues to puzzle the Kansas City community. Harrington’s parents told CNN in separate phone interviews that they don’t understand the timeline.

“So when did he actually die?” Harrington’s father, Jon Harrington, asked. “I mean, there’s 48 hours in there.”

“Nothing’s making sense right now,” said his mother, Jennifer Marquez.

One man’s fiancée broke into the house looking for him

Police said the emergency call came from the fiancée of one of the three dead men who went looking for him at the friend’s house. (It’s not clear whether the men watched the game there or stopped by afterwards.) According to Marquez, the fiancée told her what happened.

“She told me that she tried the doors, tried the gate, and eventually just — her phone was saying that Clayton was there. You know, it was pinging off his phone…So she knew something was up.”

CNN tried unsuccessfully to reach the fiancée for this story. According to Marquez, after no one answered the door, the woman removed a screen and broke into the house through a window. (A police statement said she “broke into the basement.”)

“She was calling out Clayton’s name,” Marquez said.

Eventually, she called the Kansas City police. According to a police statement, officers “responded to the back porch and confirmed there was a dead body. Upon further investigation, officers located two other dead bodies in the back yard.”

According to CNN Weather, Kansas City had a high of 37 degrees and a low of 29 degrees with trace amounts of rain and snow on January 7th. Temperatures dropped to right around freezing just before sunrise on the 8th and there was some snowfall.

The police statement said that “the resident at the house was cooperative with detectives the day the deceased were discovered.”

What Harrington’s parents don’t understand is how all that time went by without the resident of the house knowing his friends were missing or dead.

The man’s attorney declined an interview request from CNN, writing, “No more comments until the autopsy report is released.” The Kansas City Star has reported that he said the man fell asleep as the three friends left his home, and he didn’t know they’d been in the backyard. In an interview with KMBC, Picerno dismissed the notion that his client had done anything wrong.

“Let’s find out what happened before we try to cast some blame at some innocent person who’s guilty of no wrongdoing whatsoever,” he said.

After she found out her son had died, Marquez said she asked a police officer if they’d served a search warrant at the house. She said the officer told her it would all make sense when the rest of the story came out.

In response to CNN’s inquiry, the Kansas City police released a statement that said, in part, “the next step in the investigation is to receive the findings (preliminary or final) from the medical examiner, Frontier Forensics, who is the one that determines cause of death. It is still the case that no foul play was observed or suspected.”

Neither the attorney nor the police have said when they expect autopsy reports to be released.

David Harrington once saved a man’s life

Marquez fondly recalled her son. She said she’d been in a severe car crash when she was more than seven months pregnant with him. She was airlifted to a hospital. He was in fetal distress, and she was told he would be born dead or brain damaged.

“And he came out perfect,” she said, her voice breaking.

She said Harrington had saved a man’s life in 2022. In a social media post she shared with CNN, he’d written, “Just pulled an elderly man and his dog from this burning van before fire or ems got there. He had oxygen and was trapped in driver seat with it on fire. Typical Monday stuff ya know. He’s ok and the dog is too.”

David Harrington loved his Chiefs. Two weeks after he watched his last game, the Chiefs faced the Buffalo Bills in the playoffs. Dozens of friends and relatives gathered in a clubhouse at a golf course to celebrate his life and watch the game. The Chiefs fell behind, took the lead, fell behind again. They were resilient that night, just like the man who barely survived his own birth. There in the clubhouse, watching on TV, David Harrington’s friends kept his memory alive.

“And every time something good happened,” his mother recalled, “they’d start chanting, DAVID! DAVID!”

The Chiefs took the lead again, fell behind again, took the lead yet again. This time they didn’t give it back. His friends and family chanted David Harrington’s name. His mother said the room was shaking.

CNN’s Joe Sutton, Melissa Alonso and Jennifer Feldman contributed to this story.

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