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26 years ago, KC man’s body was found in Missouri woods. His killer just pleaded guilty

Kansas City Star
There will be no murder trial for Timothy Stephenson.

Two years after being extradited to Missouri from California and arrested for the 1998 killing of Randall Oliphant in Kansas City, Stephenson last week took a deal in Benton County.

He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on March 15 and was sentenced to 16 years in prison, according to court filings.

Stephenson’s attorney, Mark Hammer, did not respond to a request for comment. Nor did Rodney Richardson, the Benton County prosecuting attorney.

Oliphant, 26, went missing in January 1998. He was last seen with Stephenson leaving the Dixie Belle Saloon, a gay bar in downtown Kansas City. Two months later, his decomposing body was found in the woods outside Warsaw, about a 100 miles southeast of Kansas City. Shotgun pellets were found in his remains, but the homicide was never solved.

Stephenson later moved to northern California, where he married a doctor named Joseph Ginejko and raised two twin girls. Sometime in 2014, according to a probable cause statement, Stephenson told Ginejko that he had killed Oliphant in the bathroom of his home at 5125 Tracy in Kansas City. This new information eventually spurred an undercover operation and the collection of new DNA evidence, leading to Stephenson’s arrest in 2022.

After being extradited to Benton County, Stephenson lived under house arrest under the supervision of an aunt in her home in Clinton, about 75 miles southeast of Kansas City. But in July 2022, after Stephenson’s aunt told authorities he had been having parties and using drugs, Clinton police executed a search warrant for her home. They found Stephenson in his bedroom smoking meth out of a glass pipe and $7,000 in cash in the closet, court papers say.

He was charged with Class D felony possession of a controlled substance and sent back to the Benton County jail. Later that month, a grand jury indicted Stephenson for second-degree murder.

The Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office initially served as a special prosecutor on the case.

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