Sarah DeLeon case: Charges dropped against woman in Kansas teen's 1989 slaying

Sarah Jo DeLeon

KCTV

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- A judge has dismissed a Kansas murder case against a woman who was arrested last year in the killing of a teenager nearly 30 years ago.

 KCTV5

Wyandotte County prosecutors issued a statement Friday announcing the dismissal of the case against 48-year-old Carolyn Heckert of Smithville, Missouri. Wyandotte County Judge Aaron Roberts dismissed the case after a preliminary hearing Friday, ruling there wasn’t enough evidence to tie her to the crime, reports CBS affiliate KCTV.

Heckert, a former realtor, had been jailed since her arrest last October in connection with the 1989 death of 18-year-old Sarah DeLeon. DeLeon’s body was found with head trauma and multiple stab wounds along railroad tracks near Interstate 435 in Kansas City, Kansas.

New DNA collection and testing technology led police to reopen the case in July 2014.

The DA has the option of filing a murder charge again should new evidence arise, the station reports. The slain teen’s brother told KCTV he felt the development was “just a roadblock.”

Heckert’s attorney, John P. O’Connor, says she is elated that charge was dropped.

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Carolyn J. Heckert

KCTV

“The prosecution presented a lot on motive but had no physical evidence and no witness putting her at the scene,” John Gromowsky, another lawyer for Heckert, told KCTV.

Kansas City, Kansas, police said in May 2016 they had a suspect who was a woman, and that the motive may have been a romantic rivalry. They did not reveal the suspect’s name. At the time, they said the suspect had been involved in incidents involving the harassment and intimidation of romantic rivals.

Police investigators said at the time that they believe there is a link between DeLeon’s killing and the unsolved 1994 slaying of Diana Marie Ault in Independence, Missouri. Ault, 26, was reportedly shot to death in her home near her young children.

The Ault case remains open, investigators in Missouri told the station.

They also said they believed the two murders could be linked to a Feb. 13, 1987, abduction. In that case, they say a victim was tricked into leaving her home in a limousine and taken to the American Inn at 78th Street and Interstate 70 in Kansas City.

Investigators didn’t say why they believe the cases are connected.