The family of a 19-year-old Kansas woman murdered in 1989 may finally get some closure in her brutal killing as investigators have identified a suspect in the case, police said.
Sarah DeLeon had last been seen leaving her boyfriend’s house around 1 a.m. on December 29, 1989.
A train crew discovered the Kansas City Community college student’s body along railroad tracks running near Interstate 435. She had been stabbed multiple times and also suffered a head injury.
Her black Mustang was found nearby, about a mile away from her Kansas City home, and showed no signs of a struggle, and there was no indication of sexual assault.
Though the case was thoroughly investigated in 1989 and continued to be a focus for law enforcement in the years since DeLeon’s murder, her killer had never been caught.
But with the aid of new DNA collection and testing technology, authorities believe they have uncovered a female suspect in the almost 27-year-old unsolved case that was reopened in July 2014.
“We’re coming to a conclusion. We can see an end,” Detective Scott Howard said at a Sunday press conference.
The investigation revealed the DeLeon case may be connected to the January 30, 1994 killing of Missouri mother-of-two Diana Marie Ault, Howard said.
“We knew Sarah was harassed and a little bit bullied and we feel like that also ties into the connection with the Ault case, too,” DeLeon’s brother, Matt DeLeon, told KBMC after authorities announced that a suspect has been identified in his sister’s murder.
Ault was fatally shot inside her Independence home near her two young children after she and her husband told police they had received threatening phone calls from a woman.
“In the course of the investigation we have also determined that the suspect and an accomplice have been involved in other multiple incidents involving the harassment and intimidation of romantic rivals,” Howard said, declining to name the woman they believe is a suspect.
Investigators have not said why they believe the murders of DeLeon and Ault are connected, but said they also believe the killings could be linked to a February 13, 1987 “abduction by deception.”
In that incident, a woman was tricked into leaving her home in a limousine and was taken to the American Inn at 78th Street and Interstate 70 in Kansas City, Howard said.
“We are asking for tips regarding he February 13, 1987 incident as we believe the circumstances are relevant to a possible prosecution in Sarah DeLeon’s death,” he said
Developments in solving DeLeon’s murder come as her loved ones expressed hope on social media that this would be the last year without any answers in the young woman’s death.
“We continue to be in awe of modern technology and crime fighting capabilities of today,” a March 28 post on the Facebook page Justice For Sarah said, thanking those who have come forward with information for their help.
“Your courage and perseverance continues to provide an invaluable informational resource to investigators working this case and ultimately ensures that Sarah finally receives the justice she deserves. Feeling confident that 2016 is the year!”