Archive for Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Search team discovers body in vehicle recovered from Clinton Lake; no foul play suspected

Missing woman’s family has been contacted, but positive identification has not been made

Lake-goers put in their boats at Boat Dock No. 1 at Clinton Lake on Wednesday. An underwater search team discovered a body at Boat Ramp No. 1 about 175 feet offshore on Tuesday afternoon.

Lake-goers put in their boats at Boat Dock No. 1 at Clinton Lake on Wednesday. An underwater search team discovered a body at Boat Ramp No. 1 about 175 feet offshore on Tuesday afternoon.

September 22, 2010, 4:24 p.m. Updated September 22, 2010, 7:45 p.m.


An underwater search team Tuesday afternoon recovered a woman’s body that was inside a vehicle recovered from Clinton Lake, sheriff’s and coroner’s officials said Wednesday.

Search team finds body in Clinton Lake

A search team discovered the body of a woman in a vehicle pulled from Clinton Lake. The identity of the person has not been released and foul play does not appear to be a factor in the death. Enlarge video

“Positive identification is pending at this point. No foul play is suspected,” said Sgt. Steve Lewis, a Douglas County Sheriff’s spokesman.

An underwater search team discovered a body at Boat Ramp No. 1 about 175 feet offshore at Clinton Lake Tuesday afternoon.

An underwater search team discovered a body at Boat Ramp No. 1 about 175 feet offshore at Clinton Lake Tuesday afternoon.

Citing the investigation, he would not release further information about the body or the type of vehicle. Sharon Mandel, a chief medical investigator for the Douglas County Coroner’s Office, confirmed it was a woman’s body.

Although authorities said they were waiting on positive identification before commenting further, Gary Anderson, whose stepdaughter Lesley Smith went missing from the family’s Lawrence home in 2004, said Wednesday that police have been in touch with the family the last two days.

“I’d just as soon not comment on anything right now,” Anderson said.

Lewis said the dive team recovered the vehicle after Kansas Wildlife and Parks officials had surveyed areas of the lake near boat ramps with a new device and found two vehicles in the water.

Lewis said vehicles in the lake are typically stolen. The team had recovered one empty vehicle earlier in another part of the lake before pulling the vehicle with the body inside it from an area more than 175 feet offshore from Boat Ramp No. 1, which is inside Clinton State Park, he said.

The vehicle was found in 19 feet of water. The coroner’s office will work to identify the body and a cause of death, Lewis said.

He said the vehicle did not appear to have damage.

“It was just a vehicle, in complete shape, with a body inside of it,” Lewis said.

Mandel said coroner’s investigators had not yet identified the woman.

“We’re just waiting on the services of a forensic dentist,” she said.

Gary and Marilyn Anderson had reported Smith missing from their west Lawrence home after she disappeared along with the family’s minivan the night of Jan. 26, 2004. She was 38 at the time.

According to news reports, the Andersons last saw Smith watching TV that night at their home. Marilyn Anderson said she found a note from Smith that morning that alluded to medication and said, “I love you so much.”

Smith had taken antidepressants and had been seeing a therapist at Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center. The Andersons have said they didn’t believe she left on her own because she left many of her personal belongings.

Sgt. Matt Sarna, a Lawrence police spokesman, said he could not confirm officers had been in contact with the Andersons about the Smith case after the body was found at Clinton Lake. He also said the department would not comment until the body was identified.


d_prowess 5 years ago

How is no foul play suspected? Given that the police have no idea of the circumstances behind the vehicle getting there or how long the vehicle has been there, shouldn't foul play be one of the options they are considering?

fester0420 5 years ago

from the sound of the article it sounds like suicide

nekansan 5 years ago

Where does it say the police have no clue as to how the vehicle got there or how long the vehicle was missing? Sounds more like they have a pretty good idea and are waiting on a final positive identification.

Bucker00 5 years ago

Because I think they know who it is, and so do I. I had believed all along that's where she was. So sad, but now her family can have closure. I'll not reveal her identity, as I believe it would be improper at this time, but she was a close friend to members of my family.

I heard about this last night, and had been waiting to see some news on it.

BorderRuffian 5 years ago

If you knew all along where she was, why didn't you come forward?

Bucker00 5 years ago

They were already actively searching the lake. Why would I tell them something they already suspected themselves?

fester0420 5 years ago

they already said her name in the article

trinity 5 years ago

maybe since it has been 5+years, the vehicle may have drifted a bit? lake levels, etc changed?

OldEnuf2BYurDad 5 years ago

Yeah, that makes sense. I mean: the car HAS a tag on it, so they "know".

kansasfan21 5 years ago

People, have respect first and foremost. Of course they know who it is, but they can't outright say because it was in fact a body that was underwater...most likely for quite some time. Let the facts come out as they are released, before jumping to conclusions. Much love to the family. My thoughts and prayers are with you

Bucker00 5 years ago

And thank you too Kansasfan21. I had heard of this the night before it was reported here. Both the who and where. This person was close to my family who was often found in our household with my sis as a young woman. We already have a very good idea what's happened, and we're now properly grieving her. They will release the information when it's proper. Her family had to wait years. The readers can wait a few more hours.

Bucker00 5 years ago

And I now see they have already released the name. I should have read the article again, taking into account the manner in which LJW updates stories. Goodbye Leslie, we loved you.

Bucker00 5 years ago

Really, they'll reveal what's happened in due time. I'm with nekansan that they already know what occurred, and are awaiting positive confirmation.

fester0420 5 years ago

they are not going to tell you what they are investigating because it could mess up the investigation. if you read the article you will see its is probably suicide.

hawk780 5 years ago

Formerfarmer- I hope its not that case. If it is, pretty sad it took them 6+ years to find a car 175 feet from shore.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 5 years ago

Dude, it was suicide. Now do you understand "no foul play"?

Christine Anderson 5 years ago

Poor woman. I have no forensic knowledge, but I'd wager it was a suicide. In which case I feel doubly sorry for her, and for her family.

Steve Jacob 5 years ago

You can also get lost and drive in, and panic. We will get a name and some idea at some point, something like this they should take there time.

blindrabbit 5 years ago

sorry to hear about this outcome. A little curious though; if no ice on lake then, how did car drift out 175 feet from shore before sinking? If ice was present, you would have thought someone would have noticed some clues, i.e., tracks on ice or a hole where car went through ice.

mdrndgtl 5 years ago

If it is who we all think it is, this would disprove the nutty psychic's version of the events. Now, keep trudging with your fancy tools, Randy may be out there.

juststrugglin 5 years ago

The number of bodies of water in this area could hold a lot of answers. Randy and a few others.

geekin_topekan 5 years ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

bearded_gnome 5 years ago

yes that's a long way into the lake.

I hope that the family has good support and comfort during this time.

my heart grieves for this sad loss.

Suicide is serious. if you know someone making statements that might sound like they're suicidal, please pay attention. please call Headquarters: 841-2345. maybe the person is giving away things or saying "you won't have to worry about me anymore" or "I'm going away soon."

make an agreement with this person for a day or so that you'll stay in contact with him or her, and that your friend/acquaintance won't kill him or herself during this short time. let your friend know you care.
after you get some ideas what to do, connect that person to help.

most suicides are preventable. sadly, not all of them are.

some antidepressants increase the risk of suicide in patients at the beginning of treatment, then a few weeks in, the medicine helps.




saving lives doesn't require a cape and a big letter on your chest.

Bucker00 5 years ago

Thanks gnome. It's odd to find yourself on the end of knowing the victim when you read these boards. I suspect they'll reveal her identity today. This is a sad tragedy with no true villain.

jaholder 5 years ago

I'm not ready to call this a suicide.

January 26th. Plenty of ice on Clinton snow/drifts along the lake

I've driven around Dock #1 in the winter and if the drifts are just right you'd be hard pressed to know where the road, parking lot and boat ramp ended and the lake began, especially if there was 6-8" of ice at the bank.

She could have just as easily inadvertently driven out there and hit a soft spot in the ice as much as driven out there deliberately. Either way she did drive out on the ice as no way she'd get 175 feet from the ramp otherwise.

sherbert 5 years ago

I wonder how they found the vehicle at this time?

Shardwurm 5 years ago

God bless the family and friends.

Weather report for Jan 26th, 2004:

Minimum Temperature 19.4 °F Mean Temperature 22.7 °F Maximum Temperature 26.6 °F

Total Precipitation 0.19 IN Rain and/or melted snow reported during the day.

Visibility 4.0 MI

Snow Depth No data.

Last report for the day if reported more than once. Wind Speed and Gusts Mean Wind Speed 16.57 MPH

Maximum Sustained Wind Speed 18.10 MPH

Maximum Wind Gust 26.47 MPH

Crystal Patterson 5 years ago

What is the point of withholding the identity when there are links on the side of the article that says "past coverage" and links all the articles about the missing woman since 2004. It seems that they should wait to post the "past coverage" until after the identity has been made public. But at least a family will get some closure. Maybe they will start to use this technology on more lakes and ponds around the area, I am surprised that they only found 2 vehicles in Clinton Lake.

puddleglum 5 years ago

they have only found 2 so far...

Dee Harrell-Schneck 5 years ago

R.I.P. Les - we all love you! We have missed your beautiful smiling face. I pray that your family can now have closure.

Bucker00 5 years ago

Thank you queenie. Some of us readers are actually grieving. I can imagine what her poor family is going through. For all of those speculating, I remember Lesley from as far back as when she was in Junior High School in Ottawa, KS. Those who knew her, knew her as a sweet, petite, very cute, somewhat shy, and very friendly girl. She was very much liked by pretty much anyone I knew. These are my memories of her as a teenager and young woman. Had not seen her in a decade when she disappeared, so it came as a hammerblow.

It is absolutely heartbreaking that someone who possessed these qualities should have their life come to an end far before her time. This woman had much to give to the world yet. The agony she must have been enduring had to have been incomprehensible to most.

Dee Harrell-Schneck 5 years ago

Yes, I am one of them grieving. I also went to school with Les & was friends with her throughout junior high & high school & after. She was an amazing woman & was loved by everyone that knew her.

Bucker00 5 years ago

Yes, queenie. She was very much loved. I cannot think of one single person that ever expressed a dislike for her. Not to me, at least.

And I am also grieving. As often as she could be found in our (my mother's) household, she's more than just a casual acquaintance.

I was a bit older than Lesley, but I had younger siblings (one deceased himself since '81) who were very close to her.

Kris_H 5 years ago

So sad. My heart goes out to her friends and family.

The Gnome up there is right; depression can kill. I lost a friend who had, or could have had, all the support possible, but he just couldn't accept it.

We all have to try as hard as we can, though.

RoeDapple 5 years ago

Is it too much to hope this new device might shed some light on the disappearance of Randy Leach after all this time?

puddleglum 5 years ago

Only if people in the linwood area are willing to let the device on their property. If you have ever flown over the party area at low altitude, you know that there are hundreds of cow ponds, creeks, river estuaries, and god knows what else peppering the surrounding radius.

I'm still wondering why the cave was blocked off and access by outside law enforcement was denied by local authorities?

any ideas?

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