A 58-year-old convicted murderer has been charged in the road rage stabbing death of a Missouri Air National Guard member that occurred around 7:30pm on May 5th in Lee’s Summit, Mo. Nicholas M. Webb is charged with second-degree murder and armed criminal action in the death of Cody Harter, 23, of St. Joseph, Mo. The killing appeared to stem from a dispute over a lane merge as Webb and Harter both drove along northbound Missouri 291 at the merger of Interstate 470 in Lee’s Summit according to Webb’s statement to police in court documents.
At the scene, multiple drivers called police to the area after seeing Harter stumbling into traffic.
By the time EMT’s arrived, Harter had collapsed in the median and was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Lee’s Summit Police Department. Witnesses told police they had seen a vehicle stopped in front of Harter’s truck and that he was arguing with another person with his hands in the air when the person swung at Harter. Police believe that that the swing was when Harter was actually stabbed once in the chest before he stumbled back into the lanes of traffic and later died.
Police asked for the public’s help in finding the killer who fled north on I-470 or anyone that may have seen the confrontation. “Literally hundreds of cars would have passed by and possibly saw the actual incident along 470. What we’re asking people to do is come forward and help this family get closure and help us bring them justice in this case,” Sergeant Depue told reporters. Harter’s family also made a tearful plea to the public in finding the suspect. Police identified Webb as the suspect after viewing nearby security footage of the vehicles stopped along the highway from over 40 businesses in the area and through statements of 51 witnesses who came forward with information.
Webb was taken into custody around 6 p.m. Wednesday at his home in Pleasant Hill. Webb was previously sentenced to 35 years in prison in 1981 for the strangling death of a 15 year old girl in Belton, MO in 1980. He served 15 years for that murder and was released in 1996. In 1997, he was sent back to prison for violating parole and was released again in 2003. In 2005, Webb was taken back into custody and remained in prison until his most recent parole in July 2017. Police say Webb had several convictions including some for assault. He was arrested in Liberty for drug possession and DUI on the same day of the deadly confrontation with Harter. Information from that arrest said Webb had a knife in his pocket at the time of his arrest.
After the arrest, Cody Harter’s family and his girlfriend Shelby Berkemeier said they were thankful to the people who rushed to his aid, held his hand and prayed with him as he passed. Harter’s mother Kerrie said her son was a loadmaster with the Missouri Air National Guard’s 180th Airlift Squadron who served a tour in Iraq and was in Quatar. He also helped with hurricane relief in Houston and Puerto Rico. He was one semester away from completing his degree in technical engineering from Missouri Western State University. During a press conference, his loved ones shared several stories about the kindness Cody showed people every day. His sister Kylee spoke of a time he was driving with his girlfriend when he stopped to shovel the driveway after seeing an older woman outside in the snow. Another time he was at the dirt bike track and took time away from his own riding to fix a little boy’s bicycle chain after it broke. “He had the biggest heart and would do anything to help anyone at the drop of a hat,” said Kylee Harter. “It was senseless. He’s been to war and back and to die because someone was angry, for someone to just take everything from him… They didn’t know him. He didn’t deserve this and we don’t deserve the pain that came with it.”