• Back Road Mysteries Staff

Almost 47-years ago, 20-year-old Dana Whisler died on the edge of Kansas City

On August 14, 1973 a 20-year-old woman woman was driving north on Antioch Road on the edge of Overland Park, a relatively quiet suburb of Kansas City, Kansas at the time.

It was a typical midwest, mid-August night, by all accounts. Suddenly, a red car passenger car appeared seemingly out of nowhere , pulling up along side the woman’s car. The woman accelerated, but the red car caught up with her.

As the two vehicles approached the stop sign at Merriam Drive, a gun shot rang out. The red car sped away. Witnesses to the ghastly shooting found the woman slumped over in the passenger seat. She had been shot in the head.

The woman was 20-year-old Dana Whisler. An ambulance rushed Whisle to Shawnee Mission Hospital and she was transported from there to the to K.U. Medical Center where she later died. The bullet had entered her left temple and exited the right. She had no other injuries.

At about 1:30 a.m., a man phoned the Shawnee Mission Hospital and asked a nurse if a woman had been admitted with a gunshot wound to the head, neck, or shoulder. The nurse said she couldn’t give out information, and the man hung up. He has never been identified.

When police arrived at the scene of the shooting, the passenger’s side window was up, and both doors were locked. The responding officer discovered a bullet from a large-caliber revolver in the front seat. Other officers arrived, canvassed the area around the car, but discovered no more evidence.

The red car described by witnesses had vanished. The area seemed tailor-made for such a getaway. The intersection was on the edge of Overland Park, and if the vehicle continued heading north, as onlookers indicated it did, it would slip into the dense residential neighborhoods of Kansas City.

If the car turned around, I-35 was just three blocks south. In the ensuing days, police put out an alert for a red 1965 or 1966 Ford with square taillights.

Dana had graduated in 1971 from Turner High School where she had been on the honor roll and a member of the student council.

She resided with her parents and worked as a bookkeeper for the Public Finance Corporation. Everyone she had contact with liked her. Detectives began to suspect that Dana had not known her killer, that she had been chosen primarily because she was young and beautiful.

On the night of the murder, she had worked late, covering the duties of a coworker who was on vacation. She left at about 7 p.m. and, as was her routine, went to the home of her boyfriend.

The twenty-one year old worked the late shift as a switchman for Santa Fe Railroad.

The two had been dating for over a year and a half. Dana also had a high school sweetheart with whom she stayed in touch. Both men said they wanted to marry her. Both were initially considered suspects but were cleared.

Dana and her boyfriend dined out that night and then returned to his apartment. Just before 11 p.m. they drove separate cars to an ice cream parlor where they drank Cokes.

They left, driving side by side down Johnson Drive until they came to Broadmoor where her boyfriend turned on his way to work. Dana presumably drove on until she turned north on Antioch, and some minutes later lost her life in the bizarre shooting.

Thirty-five years later, the case is the oldest unsolved homicide in Overland Park, but the detectives have not quit.

Any one with any information that might help bring Dana’s killer to justice can contact the Investigation Division of the Overland Park Police at 913-344-8711 or call the Kansas City, Kansas TIPS HOTLINE at 816-474-TIPS.

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