Major development in Kansas teen's 1989 cold case murder

Sarah Jo DeLeon


KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Kansas City, Kansas, investigators say they believe they have identified a potential suspect in the 26-year-old unsolved murder of 19-year-old college student Sarah Jo DeLeon. Police say the suspect is a woman and the motive may have been a romantic rivalry, but they are not releasing the suspect’s name, reports CBS affiliate KCTV.

Police reopened the investigation in July of 2014 after getting assistance with new forensic testing from the FBI, reports the station. Detective Scott Howard says the investigation has revealed that the suspect and an accomplice have been involved in other incidents involving the harassment and intimidation of romantic rivals.

DeLeon’s body was found dumped along railroad tracks on the western edge of the city in 1989, with a head wound and multiple stab wounds, the Kansas City Star reports. According to the paper, detectives say they may have a link between DeLeon’s killing and another cold case -- 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.

Investigators aren’t saying why they believe the deaths of DeLeon and Ault are connected, but they also believe 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.

Police are asking anyone with information about the 1987 abduction to come forward, as it may aid in a possible prosecution in DeLeon’s murder. Tipsters should call 816-474-TIPS.