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Archive for Monday, January 27, 2014

Lawrence homicide: 19-year-old charged with first-degree murder

January 27, 2014, 1:00 p.m. Updated January 27, 2014, 2:08 p.m.

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McLinn/Sasko press conference release ( .PDF )

Lawrence Police Chief Tarik Khatib, center, followed by District Attorney Charles Branson pass in front of the media for press conference Monday, where Khatib said Sarah Brooke Gonzales McLinn, 19, has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Lawrence resident Harold Sasko, 52. McLinn was found hiding in the Florida Everglades during the weekend. She was being held in a federal detention center in Homestead, Fla.

Lawrence Police Chief Tarik Khatib, center, followed by District Attorney Charles Branson pass in front of the media for press conference Monday, where Khatib said Sarah Brooke Gonzales McLinn, 19, has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Lawrence resident Harold Sasko, 52. McLinn was found hiding in the Florida Everglades during the weekend. She was being held in a federal detention center in Homestead, Fla.

Sarah Brooke Gonzales McLinn

Sarah Brooke Gonzales McLinn

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Sarah Brooke Gonzales McLinn, 19, has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Lawrence resident Harold Sasko, 52, according to the Lawrence Police Department and the Douglas County District Attorney's Office.

At a 1 p.m. news conference, authorities announced the charges against McLinn, who was found hiding in the Florida Everglades during the weekend. She was being held in a federal detention center in Homestead, Fla., this afternoon, according to Lawrence Police Chief Tarik Khatib.

McLinn is the only suspect in Sasko's death, police said.

"We still believe she is the only one who is responsible for Sasko's death at this time," Khatib said. "Court proceedings will determine ultimate guilt."

District Attorney Charles Branson said McLinn killed Sasko "with premeditation and intent," adding more charges are possible.

"We have nothing to indicate she was a victim in this matter," Branson said.

Park rangers found McLinn illegally camping in the Everglades, where she was detained on a federal charge of possession of a controlled substance. Her arrest warrant on the murder charge was issued Sunday, Branson said, the same day Lawrence detectives flew to Florida to assess McLinn's condition.

"I don't know the extent of what she has said," Khatib noted.

Khatib said Lawrence Police still don't know the full extent of the relationship between McLinn and Sasko. The 19-year-old worked for Sasko's CiCi's Pizza franchise in Topeka before moving into his home in Lawrence, friends and family members have told the Journal-World.

As for a motive in the killing, Khatib said, "We're still looking at that."

"We believe Mr. Sasko was somehow subdued," Khatib said. "Evidence at the scene makes us think she was the only one involved." That's contrary to a statement issued Sunday by McLinn's mother, who claimed police told the family the nature of Sasko's traumatic injuries indicated multiple people were involved in his death.

Khatib said Sasko's injuries were inflicted by "an edged instrument." LPD believes it has recovered the murder weapon, he added.

McLinn had been missing for almost two weeks before she was found in Florida during the weekend. Family members originally reported her missing Jan. 14, which led police to the discovery of Sasko's body Jan. 17 at the Lawrence home they shared in the 2900 block of West 26th Street. A law enforcement agency in Florida contacted LPD Saturday evening saying it thought it found McLinn and the 2008 Nissan Altima also missing since McLinn's disappearance.

Kimberly Qualls, a close friend of Sasko's, has told the Journal-World that Sasko allowed McLinn to move in so she could have a stable environment, save money and prepare for college.

When asked Monday why police delayed naming McLinn a suspect for almost two weeks, Khatib said: "We didn't know."

Follow our Twitter feed to the left and follow this story at LJWorld.com for more news as it develops.

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