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Archive for Sunday, June 10, 2007

Police chief: Teen likely killed less than 2 hours after abduction

June 10, 2007

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— Kelsey Smith, the 18-year-old woman abducted from a Target store parking lot, was likely strangled to death shortly after she was kidnapped, according to Overland Park, Kan., Police Chief John Douglass.

"That seems to be the most logical conclusion," Douglass said Saturday.

Smith, 18, was abducted from the parking lot in Overland Park, a suburb of Kansas City, Mo., about 7 p.m. June 2. Her body was found in a wooded area 20 miles east of the abduction site Wednesday afternoon.

Police were guided to the area where her body was found by signals from her cell phone. The last signal from Smith's cell phone was registered at about 7:56 p.m. June 2, Douglass said. Her car was then caught on surveillance video returning to the Target store parking lot at about 9:17 p.m. June 2.

"So it makes no sense that she would have been taken back there twice," Douglass said of the area where her body was found. "Our best guess is that she was taken out there, and that then she was killed shortly thereafter."

He said a more precise time of death would be available after the autopsy.

"We're trying to determine that right now," he said.

A memorial service for Smith is scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday at the Church of the Resurrection in Leawood.

Johnson County District Attorney Phill Kline's office said Friday that Smith was strangled with a ligature. Spokesman Brian Burgess would not say what was used.

Edwin Hall, 26, of Olathe, was charged Thursday with the first-degree murder and aggravated kidnapping in Smith's death. He faces at least 25 years in prison if convicted of the murder charge and more than 12 years on the aggravated kidnapping count.

Douglass also said Saturday that investigators have asked police in Wichita to look into Hall's activities when he lived there in the 1990s.

"But I can't comment any more on that," Douglass said.

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