Police are close to solving woman’s 1989 murder

Investigators examining the 1989 murder of a Kansas woman say they have identified a female suspect in the case and believe the crime may be related to the killing of another woman in 1994, as well as a 1987 abduction.

Sarah DeLeon, a 19-year-old community college student from Kansas City, was killed on Dec. 29, 1989, shortly after leaving her boyfriend’s house. Her body was dumped along railroad tracks near the western edge of the city. She had been stabbed multiple times and also suffered a head injury. There was neither evidence of a struggle around her car, which was found nearby, nor was there any sign of sexual assault.

On Sunday, Kansas City Police Detective Scott Howard said investigators have identified a woman from the Kansas City area as a suspect. Howard did not release the name of the woman, who is not in custody, but said that she “and an accomplice have been involved in other incidents involving the harassment and intimidation of romantic rivals.”

Detectives said the DeLeon case was reopened in July 2014 and helped along by advances in DNA testing. Howard says he hopes to present to the Wyandotte County district attorney’s office for charges in coming weeks.

Police believe that DeLeon’s death might be connected to the Jan. 31, 1994, murder of 26-year-old Diana Ault, of Independence, Mo. Ault was shot in front of her two young children. A gun thought to be the murder weapon was found in Ault’s car at a nearby church. Ault and her husband had reported receiving several threatening phone calls, mostly from a woman, in the weeks before her death. A suspect was identified, but no arrests were made in the case.

“Through different periods of time we’ve jointly investigated our homicide and their homicide,” Howard said of the possible connection between the two cases.

Police are also looking for anyone with information about a so-called “abduction by deception” on Feb. 13, 1987. In that incident, a woman was tricked into leaving her home in a limousine and taken to a motel.

“We believe that we can show a pattern of behavior that links this to the DeLeon homicide and other crimes,” Howard said.

Anyone with information on the 1987 abduction is asked to contact Kansas City, Kan., homicide unit or the police department’s top line at (816) 474-8477.

“We’re coming to a conclusion,” Howard said. “We can see an end.”