Archive for Wednesday, April 16, 2008

20 years gone

Mystery, bizarre events surround missing teen case

Harold and Alberta Leach have spent the last 20 years searching for their missing son, Randy, a 17-year-old who mysteriously disappeared after going to a party in 1988. Behind the Leaches is a picture of Randy, as the Leaches wave goodbye at their Linwood home to author Cindy Hutchison, who is writing a book about Randy's disappearance.

Harold and Alberta Leach have spent the last 20 years searching for their missing son, Randy, a 17-year-old who mysteriously disappeared after going to a party in 1988. Behind the Leaches is a picture of Randy, as the Leaches wave goodbye at their Linwood home to author Cindy Hutchison, who is writing a book about Randy's disappearance.

April 16, 2008


Son's disappearance haunts family

It's been 20 years since a Linwood resident and his car went missing. While there are rumors about what might have happened to the high school senior, police say they are no closer to solving the disappearance. 6News reporter Karrey Britt has more. Enlarge video

How to help

Anyone with information about the disappearance of Randy Wayne Leach on April 16, 1988, can:

¢ Call the Leavenworth County Sheriff's Office at (800) 593-1313.

¢ Call the Kansas Bureau of Investigation at (800) 572-7463.

¢ Call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at (800) 843-5678.

Harold and Alberta Leach are offering a $25,000 reward for any information leading to what happened to their son.

Anyone interested in sharing information for Cindy Hutchison's book about the case can e-mail her at

Harold Leach pulls his car to the side of a rock road and points to the farm seven miles east of Linwood where his only son, Randy Wayne Leach, was last seen 20 years ago while attending a bonfire party.

Harold and his wife, Alberta, now in their mid-60s, talk frankly about how the property has changed since they went looking for Randy there on the morning of April 16, 1988.

There used to be white ranch house, but it was destroyed by fire. Now there is a new house, and the shed and pond have been added. Bushes have grown near the driveway where Randy reportedly had parked his mother's 1985 Dodge 500. The car has never been found.

It has been two decades and still no clues.

"I don't think we really know anything more than we did the first day, and that's unfortunate," Harold said.

Since the 17-year-old Linwood High School senior went missing, the Leaches have endured years of rumors and speculation about what possibly happened to Randy:

¢ He was murdered after witnessing a drug deal.

¢ He was sacrificed as part of satanic ritual.

¢ He died of a drug overdose.

¢ He drove his car into a lake.

¢ He died of dehydration after being tied to a tree.

They've heard that his body is in this pond or that river or on this farm or in that cave.

And they've tried to follow up on each story - no matter how crazy it might be.

Last week, during a drive around the rural areas of Linwood, De Soto and Bonner Springs, the couple pointed out numerous areas, besides the farm where Randy was last seen, that they, family or police have searched. Among them were:

¢ 12755 Loring Drive near Bonner Springs where semitrailers were parked inside huge underground "caves." Harold said about 100 yards around the corner was a cave where, according to rumors, Randy was killed in a satanic ritual.

¢ The intersection of 83rd Street and Kill Creek Road in De Soto where there once was an auto body shop. Randy's car was rumored to have been dismantled there.

¢ Lenape Cemetery, just down the road from where Randy was last seen, the subject of a psychic's reading. The Leaches were told that Randy was buried along a fence there.

"Where was the psychic from?" Harold asked his wife while exiting the cemetery.

"I don't know, honey. There have been so many," she said.

In the early 1990s, they were invited to appear on a Jerry Springer show about missing children. Alberta had talked to a psychic before attending the show and sent a shirt tag from one of Randy's shirts. The psychic told the Leaches that their son "definitely was alive."

But as soon as the cameras started rolling, the psychic said, "he is dead."

"We just lost it," Alberta said.

The disappearance

Back in the kitchen of their rural Linwood home, Harold and Alberta are surrounded by photos of Randy. There are age-progressed photos of what he might look like today and senior-year photos. Time hasn't made it any easier for them to talk about their son.

Alberta described Randy as a good boy who loved the country.

"He loved to fish," she said, barely able to get the words out. Alberta then looked into her husband's eyes, smiled and added, "He liked to help his dad and drive the tractor. He was always out in the yard playing."

They recalled the last time they saw Randy.

"We bought a new riding lawn mower, so that afternoon he had taken it to mow a yard and brought it back and then mowed our yard," Harold said. "Then, he cleaned the lawn mower up and came in and got ready to go out that night."

He talked about driving to Lawrence to purchase some wax to protect the mower's paint.

About 6:30 p.m., Randy left the family's driveway and turned east toward Linwood. He had about $50 after his dad gave him $20 for the wax. He was wearing a blue T-shirt, Levi's and white tennis shoes.

During the course of the evening, Randy picked up Steve Daughtery, an older acquaintance, and drove to De Soto, where his 1966 Mustang was being restored. The car was a graduation gift from his parents. He later stopped at Stout's Convenience Store in Linwood and purchased two candy bars, two bottles of soda and $3 worth of gasoline.

Randy reportedly arrived at the bonfire about 9:30 p.m. It was a pre-graduation party for schoolmate Kim Erwin and was given by her mother, Annie Erwin. The Erwins had just moved to the area from Kansas City, Kan. About 100 people attended the bash where a punch spiked with grain alcohol reportedly was sold for $3 per cup; refills were free.

By various accounts, Randy, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound teenager, was too intoxicated to walk straight between the time he arrived and the last time he was reported seen between 1:15 a.m. and 2 a.m. No one saw Randy or the Dodge leave.

Meanwhile, Alberta and Harold slept soundly through the night, and Randy missed his 12:30 a.m. curfew, a rarity. About 6 a.m., Alberta woke up, pulled back the curtains and peered out the kitchen window. The car was gone.

"I knew something was really wrong," she said.

They immediately began making calls and searching for Randy.

"We jumped in the car and went over to where the party was to talk to the people there," Alberta said. "Of course, they knew nothing."

An unusual case

That's what has the Leaches and law enforcement baffled.

Jerry Nance, of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, has been the case manager for about six years. While there are many missing persons cases that go back 20 years, he said this one is unique because it happened in a small town. Linwood, which is 13 miles northeast of Lawrence, has a population of about 300 people.

"Usually when something like this happens, you have a little bit of a we-don't-know situation as to when they were last seen, but his timeline is pretty tight and that's unusual," he said.

Nance's opinion is that somebody knows something, but has been afraid to come forward.

John Schermbeck, detective lieutenant with the Leavenworth County Sheriff's office, agrees.

"It's unusual, I think, that in that kind of community that someone doesn't know something," he said. "It's a mystery to us."

In 2003, the sheriff's office and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation reinvestigated the case.

"We spent a winter doing that, and we feel like we have an investment in the case now. We worked pretty hard, and we would like to solve the case," Schermbeck said. "The leads that come to us, we try to follow up thoroughly, but as far as the case is concerned it's still an open missing persons case."

He said they still get some leads about two or three times a year.

"We try to pursue every one seriously and follow it completely," Schermbeck said.

The last tip came in December when the Leaches received a call while on vacation in Branson, Mo. Someone had received a letter that indicated an inmate in a county jail in Kansas might know something about Randy. Police investigated, and nothing came of it.

"Everything comes to a dead end. You think you are getting somewhere and then all of a sudden it just dead-ends and it's been that way the whole time," Alberta said. "You think you have a lead and - pfffttt - it's gone."

The Leaches have hired lawyers, detectives, psychics and divers to help locate Randy. They have no idea how much money they've spent. They have boxes and files of tape-recorded conversations, documents and pictures. They've converted Randy's bedroom into a study, but haven't thrown away any of his things.

When asked how much time they had invested in the search, Alberta shook her head and replied, "20 years."

Search continues

On April 26, the Leaches are going to meet Dan Steele, a Lawrence psychic.

"I am going to try to use energy signals, and I am going to try to pick up on Randy's energy and just try to find his body or try to find the car," Steele said. "I've got a really good feeling about this."

Steele, a 1988 graduate of Washington High School in Kansas City, Kan., said he remembers hearing about Randy's disappearance.

"There were all kinds of rumors surrounding it. There were Satan worshippers involved. There were drugs involved. There was foul play involved," he said. "The thing is nobody really knows what happened."

Steele, an assistant manager at Presto in North Lawrence, met the Leaches through a friend, Cindy Hutchison, who plans to publish a book about the search for Randy with her twin sister, Kathy Schott, who lives in Lawrence. The two published a book, "Boys, Let Me Down Easy," in 2005 about an 1882 Lawrence lynching.

Hutchison, of Belton, Mo., has spent the past two years researching Randy's case.

"When I first got involved with it, I was absolutely overwhelmed because there was a whole lot more material than what I was expecting. I have reams and reams of documents and police reports and things to go through," she said. "I live and breathe it, practically."

Hutchison, who works part time as a pharmacy technician, said she has been doing some of her own investigating.

"I've found a few things that don't quite make sense or don't quite add up," she said, without going into specifics.

Hutchison and Schott plan to publish the book within the year. They hope it will help shed light on what happened to Randy and provide some closure for the Leaches.

"It's been 20 years, and we've made it together through this but you can't move on," Harold said as he looked at his wife.

"We just exist," she said, nodding.

"My worst nightmare is something will happen to me and Alberta will have to : ," Harold couldn't finish the sentence as his emotions took over. He let out a big sigh and then said, "She will have to go through it on her own."


Bassetlover 10 years ago

The "not knowing" has to be far worse that having proof positive of what happened to their son. I can't imagine a more devastating blow to any parent than to live out the remainder of their lives with no answer. Seems so cruel, and a great example of when bad things happen to good people. Our hearts go out to this family who have been forced to endure so much pain the past 20 years.

JoRight 10 years ago

Ditto genius & itsgettingwarmer. . .incoming bombardment from redneckbuddah & all the sherlock holmes' of ljw.

Kat Christian 10 years ago

I wish they would contact Lisa Williams. She has a TV show and wrote a book Life among the Dead. She's been seeing the dead since she was 4 years old. And it did not just begin with her because it is generational gift from her mother and grandmother. I really think the Leach's should contact her. I feel so bad for them. I pray they discover the truth before long.

geniusmannumber1 10 years ago

"I wish they would contact Lisa Williams. She has a TV show and wrote a book Life among the Dead. She's been seeing the dead since she was 4 years old. And it did not just begin with her because it is generational gift from her mother and grandmother. I really think the Leach's should contact her. I feel so bad for them. I pray they discover the truth before long."Ha!

mistygreen 10 years ago

Dear Leach Family, my thoughts and prayers go out to you. May you soon find some resolution.

K_dub 10 years ago

I spent a couple of hours re-reading many of the old articles. How incredibly painful and sad! I pray for the family! I cannot begin to imagine what it would be like to lose a child and have no idea what happened. My heart goes out to Mr. & Mrs. Leach.

jumpin_catfish 10 years ago

Speaking as one whose brother left for work one evening and we never saw his face again, I feel their pain but sadly it doesn't go away. My mom to this day swears she hears him walk in the door late at night. Harold and Alberta may God give you peace.

KenCK23 10 years ago

geniusmannumber...not a genius! Just stupid

LawrenceLover88 10 years ago

The people who served underage kids grain alcohol should still have to answer this. Is there a statute of limitations on that? This is an incredibly maddening situation. The authorities should investigate this tirelessly until they find a resolution.I can't wait to read this forthcoming book; I hope these sisters have a good publisher and even better publicists. How heart-renching for these parents. It's just so incredibly unfair to them and their son. I hope that someday they find peace...and justice.

geniusmannumber1 10 years ago

"geniusmannumber:not a genius! Just stupid"Zing!

belle 10 years ago

Nevermind, didn't realize he was 17.

Fatty_McButterpants 10 years ago

This is the type of scenario where it would be good to know some people in the mafia... They'd get answers. No, I'm not suggesting anything, just noting.

geniusmannumber1 10 years ago

I noticed that too, on an article from a month or two ago, earlier today--that someone had responded, by name, to an apparently disappeared post. I don't know that I'd have made my post if I'd seen yours. I haven't noticed it before; anyone else know if it's a frequent thing?

RockyMacy 10 years ago

Harold and Alberta, I think about you and Randy every day. How sad that none of his "friends" have ever had the decency to come forward and tell you what happened. Any parent should be granted that common courtesy. You remain in my prayers and thoughts.Rocky Macy

bolshavik_vw 10 years ago

I remember when the whole thing with Randy Leach had happend. I was a senior at the time. And my fiance had played against him in Basketball earlier our Senior year, for our High School. It was so sad. Our parents were so paranoid of this happening to us. That they were all on edge.

Kelly Powell 10 years ago

Rocky macy....Us "friends" did come forward....we just were not believed.....Hopefully this will be my last post on this collum.....and responses to me should be written on the "play explores teens disappearance"....And for all those people who said I was using this to get attention....I turned down a interview from ljworld. I will apologize for some of my more insensitive posts,I do not expect any apologies from the trolls that frequent this board.....I do not expect you to understand me and my friend robs outrage about the crap that happened to us.....with all the horrible crap that goes on in the world, it sounds really tame comparatively......but for those people that keep poopooing me and telling me to "move on" or "whats your complaint, your still alive".....(this is probably going to cause a sh!t storm) Would you tell a rape victim that? ...I guess that rob and I were asking for it, dressed all slutty like we were......I'll reiterate, the above comment from mr./ms macy insults everyone who cooperated with the authorities and told the truth....And please do not say he was addressing it to only certain people.....The comments from the last board and most likely this is usually a blanket accusation to anyone that was at the party....or even a few who were not..PAM PHILLIPS is top on that list......Anyway, Harold and Alberta, I am sorry that this has gone on this long without you two finding closure.....I will not make any more comments on the past mistakes made .....You guys did Rob a world of good (and hopefully it helped you too, if just a little) with the talk you had with him....Maybe some day I'll call you for a sit down....but the way my life is going right now, I'm afraid if a disagreement happened I would not be civil, or I would say something very hurtful......Like I said earlier, any comments to me , please address them to the earlier board.

Katmandu 10 years ago

Hey Buddha, Looks like it still has to be all about you. Grow up, or if you can't do that, get a good psychological evaluation and find out what your problems are.

Cynthia Schott 10 years ago

Hey Katmandu...Ease up on Rednekbuddha. Imagine being looked at as a suspect for 20 years no matter how many polygraph tests or questioning you engage in. Imagine staring down the barrel of a gun while trying to defend yourself. I think Buddha is being very gentlemanly by suggesting a personal talk with the Leaches. I am sure they would appreciate that.I don't know Kelly, but I don't think he is a killer or someone who would harbor a secret for 20 years. I do know the Leaches. Let's use this Blog in a productive way. Offer theories or suggestions. The Leaches are warm and loving people who would welcome any help.Cindy Hutchison

Spider 10 years ago

As the other author, I can only repeat what my sister has said. Let's all get together and try to solve this thing for the Leaches. It does no good to try to cast blame on others from the past when we have no proof whatsoever. Cindy and I have done much research, and the cause of Randy's disappearance still remains a mystery. His disappearance has caused so much pain for many people. It has not only disrupted lives, but it has caused some to almost end theirs. Let's all try to bring that to an end!

Kelly Powell 9 years, 11 months ago

katmandu: I requested nicely to address comments regarding me on the "play explores" board....This was to keep this board open for the public....I could be sarcastic, but I won't....please do as I request...please.

RonaldWilson 6 years, 7 months ago

I realize this is a dead thread, but I just gotta ask something. With all these satanist theories apparently getting credence from some folks, how do you explain that he was the only alledged victim in Leavenworth county? There may have been others I'm unaware of, but it seems like there would have been more had the satinist theory been true. Besides the total lack of tangible evidence of human sacrifice in the entire history of the county and the lack of additional missing persons makes believing in an organized cult very hard to do.

And the missing car... who is going to go through the trouble of disposing of a car in the process of a murder/abduction? It wasn't a particularly valuable or sought after car. It's just more work for an alledged killer that he/she doesn't need to endeavor or endure. What does it gain them? A properly wiped down abandoned car, or a torched car, yields few more clues than a non-existent car. A few more, but it takes much less time and involves fewer people to just torch it or abandon it. These are the main problems I have with the whole abduction and murder theories. That and the fact that to my uninvolved knowledge, there has never been a single piece of physical evidence (or credible testimony) collected during this entire 23 years that points to abduction or murder.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.