Woman charged in unsolved 1989 killing in Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) " A 48-year-old Missouri woman has been charged in the death of a woman whose body was found nearly 30 years ago in Kansas City, Kansas, authorities announced Thursday.

Carolyn J. Heckert was charged Wednesday with first-degree murder in the December 29, 1989, death of Sarah DeLeon, Wyandotte County District Attorney Jerome Gorman said in a release. DeLeon, 18, was found stabbed to death along railroad tracks, police said. She had also suffered a head wound, police said.

Heckert was arrested Wednesday in Smithville, Missouri, which is about 20 miles north of Kansas City, Kansas. She was being held Thursday in the Clay County jail on $1 million bond, awaiting extradition to Kansas. A lawyer for Heckert didn't immediately return calls seeking comment Thursday.

Police said new DNA collection and testing technology prompted police to review the DeLeon case in July 2014.

DeLeon's mother Gail Elieson said Thursday she was "quite pleased" with the announcement of charges in the case.

"It just took a long time to get to this point," she said in a telephone interview from her Colorado home.

"It will be 27 years in December" since her daughter was slain, she said.

Her daughter was a "wonderful young woman," who was studying at a community college, Elieson said. She said she considered the attack on her daughter as "something very personal, with a lot of rage."

"She had no enemies. Everybody loved her," Elieson said. "She did not live a high-risk lifestyle."

In May, Kansas City, Kansas, detectives said the DeLeon homicide was also possibly linked to the unsolved 1994 slaying of 26-year-old Diana Marie Ault, who was shot to death in her Independence, Missouri, home, surrounded by her 4-year-old son and 6-month-old daughter, according to The Kansas City Star.

Det. Scott Howard said in May that the suspect in the DeLeon case, who was not named at that time, "and an accomplice have been involved in other incidents involving the harassment and intimidation of romantic rivals." Detectives said then that they were also seeking information about a possible 1987 abduction that may have been related to the DeLeon case.

Kansas City, Kansas, police spokesman Officer Cameron Morgan said Thursday he couldn't comment further on the DeLeon investigation and any possible link to Ault's death or the alleged 1987 abduction, but said the suspect police were talking about in May was Heckert.

Independence, Missouri, police spokesman Officer John Syme said Thursday that department hasn't had any contact with Kansas City, Kansas, police, regarding the Ault case and he could not comment on whether Heckert is a suspect in Ault's death, which he said remains an open investigation.

Ault's father, Bill Laskey, said Thursday that his daughter was "murdered in front of her kids" after returning home from watching the Super Bowl. He said he didn't know Heckert, but was pleased at least that an arrest had been made in DeLeon's death, calling it "way overdue." He said he was still waiting for charges to be filed in his daughter's death.

"We're not looking for just anybody, any warm body to be hung for the murders of either of these two girls," he said. "We're just looking for the right person to be held accountable."

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AP News Researcher Rhonda Shafner contributed from New York City.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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