Roger Kemp, who rose to prominence as an anti-crime and self-empowerment advocate following the murder of his daughter Ali Kemp at a Leawood pool in 2002, died Thursday.
The TAKE Defense Foundation, which Kemp helped found in the wake of his daughter’s killing, made the announcement of Kemp’s death on its Facebook page. Kemp was 77.
• Roger Kemp, who founded the TAKE Defense organization after his daughter Ali was murdered in 2002, has died at the age of 77.
• A memorial gathering in Kemp’s honor will be held on Friday, March 11 from at 10-11 a.m. in Kansas City, Mo., at Mt. Moriah, Newcomer and Freeman Funeral Home, 10507 Holmes Road. The event will be followed by a 11 a.m. funeral service at the funeral home.
A cause of Roger Kemp’s death was not immediately disclosed.
A father’s mission
Ali Kemp, a 19-year-old college student, was strangled to death while working at a neighborhood pool in Leawood in the summer of 2002.
Her father discovered her body in the pool house and spent much of the rest of his life fighting for justice for his daughter, caring for her legacy and working to educate and empower others in TAKE Defense’s safety awareness programs.
In 2004, he founded the Ali Kemp Educational Foundation, an organization that to date has trained over 70,000 girls and women across the country in self-defense.
In the months immediately following Ali Kemp’s death, Roger Kemp also worked to try to find her killer by putting up billboards around the metro with the sketch of a suspect.
He also appeared in national outlets speaking about his daughter’s case, including in USA Today and on the “America’s Most Wanted” TV program.
With the help of those efforts, an anonymous tip ultimately led detectives to Benjamin Appleby, two years after her death.
Living in Connecticut under a false name at the time of his arrest, Appleby was extradited back to Kansas where he later confessed to the murder.
He would later retract his confession and go on trial in Johnson County, where he was found guilty and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for 50 years, a so-called “Hard 50” sentence.
In 2019, Appleby would try to get his prison sentence reduced, but the judge denied his request.
After Appleby’s conviction, Kemp started The Ali Kemp Education Foundation, otherwise called TAKE Defense.
It teaches self-defense to girls and women ages 12 and up with training classes held across the country.
The foundation’s announcement about Kemp’s passing has garnered almost 500 likes and over 50 comments of people sharing their memories and admiration for Kemp.
“Roger was a wonderful, warm, giving man, and the Foundation will ensure that Roger’s work in Ali’s memory goes on,” commenter Suzy Kaminsky wrote.
TAKE Defense says in lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to the Foundation.
A memorial gathering in Kemp’s honor will be held on Friday, March 11 from at 10-11 a.m. in Kansas City, Mo., at Mt. Moriah, Newcomer and Freeman Funeral Home, 10507 Holmes Road.
The event will be followed by a 11 a.m. funeral service at the funeral home.