Two men charged with murder in Springfield shooting

Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Two men are charged with second-degree murder for a fatal shooting on Monday, May 17. The two are facing other charges for separate crimes during the days leading up to each of their arrests.

On Monday, May 17, police in Springfield found a man named James Kenney dead with gunshot wounds and began searching for a suspect.

According to the probable cause statement from the Springfield Police Department, several anonymous sources suggested Justin Murphy and John Hilt were responsible for Kenney’s death on May 17.

The statement says Murphy and Hilt are members of the Family Values Gang while Kenney was a known member of the Southwest Honkies Gang. The Family Values and Southwest Honkies are rival gangs and are reported to be involved in several incidents against each other.

Individuals living nearby 321 W. Page, where the murder occurred, gave police a report of what they saw the night of the murder.

The individuals said a grey vehicle parked in front of the residence, and three white males exited the vehicle wearing masks. The three men went inside the residence, and the individuals reported hearing several gunshots before seeing the men run back to their vehicle and leave.

On May 18, another shooting involving police officers occurred in Springfield at a Kum and Go at Kearney and Eastgate Street.

At the murder scene on May 17, one person eventually confessed to police he had seen Hilt and Murphy after hearing gunshots from Kenney’s residence and saw Hilt point a handgun at someone after the shooting in the backyard of the residence.

On May 18, detectives put out a warrant for Hilt’s arrest and found him at the Kum and Go on East Kearney. When officers tried to talk to Hill inside his vehicle, he began firing his weapon at police.

Hilt fled the Kum and Go, and police discovered his vehicle at the Welcome Inn on 3550 E. Eastgate. Hilt was eventually arrested and charged.

The Springfield Police Department later discovered that these two shootings had the same suspect: 36-year-old John Hilt.

On May 19, another man was arrested by police in Ozark for his connection to an at-the-time unspecified death investigation.

Detectives found 32-year-old Justin Murphy in Springfield on 3500 S. Campbell driving a grey Chevrolet Impala, a similar vehicle described by the individuals who told police what they saw the night of Kenney’s murder. Police said Murphy was driving erratically, making quick turns, driving in and out of parking lots, and changing directions as he was driving.

The probable cause statement said police followed Murphy to Christian County, Missouri, where he tried to flee from the police following him until he crashed and was arrested. Murphy’s girlfriend was in the vehicle and taken to the hospital for minor injuries.

Inside the vehicle, police said they found bags of clothing that matched information they received, suggesting Murphy was planning to leave Springfield.

Murphy was questioned but denied having any relation with Kenney’s death and said he was on his way to Branson, Missouri, to see the attractions.

Police reached out to Murphy’s girlfriend at the hospital being treated for injuries on her arm. She said on May 15, she was at her residence with Hilt and Murphy when Kenney’s ex-girlfriend, who is also Hilt’s girlfriend, said Kenney asked her if she could give him a ride, stole controlled substances from her, and made threats toward Murphy’s stepfather.

Murphy’s girlfriend continued saying Murphy and Hilt agreed to go to Kenney’s house and assault him. She remembered Hilt pulled out a handgun and said he was going to “pistol whip” Kenney. Murphy and Hilt left his girlfriend’s residence, and she said Murphy returned 30 minutes later and said Hilt fired shots at Kenney.

The probable cause statement said Murphy’s girlfriend learned Hilt planned on towing Kenney’s trailer off and burning it in an attempt to cover up the murder and had gotten rid of he and Murphy’s cell phones. She said Murphy was fleeing Springfield with her to try and avoid contact with law enforcement.

Murphy has a criminal history that includes the following convictions:

  • First-degree burglary
  • Felony resisting arrest
  • Tampering with a motor vehicle
  • Third-degree domestic assault
  • Second-degree assault

Murphy is facing a second-degree murder charge in Kenney’s death investigation.

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