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Archive for Saturday, October 26, 1996

BODY BELIEVED TO BE MISSING EUDORA WOMAN

October 26, 1996

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A body believed to be a Eudora woman missing since the middle of September was found Thursday in the Kansas River.

The investigation into Patricia Hagen's disappearance may have ended. The investigation into her death may have just begun.

A body believed to be the 33-year-old Hagen was found Thursday floating in the Kansas River, near its confluence with the Missouri River in Kansas City, Kan.

A crew member on the Missouri River Queen, anchored nearby, spotted the body about noon, said Kansas City Police Lt. Robert Miller. The Douglas County Sheriff's Department became aware of the discovery Friday morning.

Authorities have not indicated whether foul play was involved, and investigators were seeking medical records Friday to verify her identity.

"We have been actively working this (case) and we will continue to investigate," Douglas County Sheriff's operations coordinator Judy Osborne said.

Douglas County Dist. Atty. Christine Kenney Tonkovich said the DA's office would not become involved in a death investigation "until the (sheriff's) investigation is complete."

Douglas County Coroner Dr. Erik Mitchell said Friday that the autopsy on Hagen's body was complete, but he deferred questions to the sheriff's office. Sheriff Loren Anderson could not be reached for comment.

Hagen was last seen alive about 3 a.m. Sept. 17 in the area known as Weaver's Bottoms, one mile northwest of Eudora next to the Kansas River. She was with her fiance, Stephen Thompson, Eudora, and two friends, Mike Williams, Eudora, and Bobby Rhodes, McLouth.

They had been drinking earlier in the evening and were out stealing watermelons, Thompson said several days after Hagen's disappearance. The group parked its pickup truck about 200 feet from the river and started gathering.

At one point, Thompson said, he and Rhodes were talking near the front of the truck. Williams was in the truck's cab. Hagen was standing near the back of the truck, with her back to the river.

"I was talking to him, trying to calm him down -- Patty thought we were having an altercation," Thompson said. "We both looked over there and she wasn't there."

The three spent almost a half-hour "yelling and screaming for her." They shined flashlights and spotlights and searched everywhere, he said.

They would later continue the search with a Eudora police officer and Douglas County Sheriff's deputies. Hagen was officially reported missing at 7:30 p.m. that day.

Hagen and her sister, Valerie Howard, moved three years ago to Eudora from Illinois, where Hagen's teen-age daughter and other relatives live.

Neither Howard nor Thompson could be located Friday for comment.

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