Road sign honoring cop killer removed from I-44 in Kirkwood

Published: May. 3, 2023 at 6:48 PM CDT
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KIRKWOOD, Mo. (KMOV) - A now-removed road sign caused an uproar from local residents who argued it was insensitive to first responders.

The sign popped up on I-44 westbound near the Lindbergh exit sometime after January this year. It honored Kevin Johnson, the man convicted and executed for the murder of Kirkwood Police Officer William McEntee in 2005.

It caused a stir with locals like Melanie Menendez, who saw the road sign driving by last week before its removal.

“It’s a slap in the face to first responders, to law enforcement,” Menendez said. “[McEntee’s] brothers and sisters shouldn’t have to see that.”

It was one of several signs at that interchange that were a part of the Missouri Department of Transportation’s Adopt a Highway program. The program allows groups to agree to maintain and clean up sections of local highways in exchange for signage honoring their work.

MoDOT says it removed the sign Saturday and say they are investigating the application, but they wouldn’t say who applied for the signage. News 4 filed a Sunshine Act request to find out the answer. A woman claiming to be Johnson’s daughter said in a Facebook post that “people worked so hard to get this sign up.”

The sign appeared to violate MoDOT’s administrative rules for the Adopt a Highway program, which say recent criminals aren’t eligible for applications to adopt.

“Maybe MODOT didn’t know who that was because it was years ago,” Menendez said. “But they need to do a little bit more research on names.”

The Kirkwood Police Association said they did want to get involved with the story, except to say they understood why people were upset.

“I don’t think it takes much thought to identify why police officers would have an issue with a convicted murder of a police officer where the sign was posted and now have to see that name on a sign everyday,” they wrote in a statement to News 4. “Also, it is understandable on why the family and friends would have an issue with a sign glorifying someone who killed their loved one.”