Archive for Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Judge demands documents in 30-year-old Randy Leach case, will review before ruling whether to release

Harold Leach, left, and Alberta Leach, center, parents of Randy Leach, who was 17 when he disappeared in April 1988, talked to supporters outside Leavenworth County District Court on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017, in Leavenworth, Kan. The parents are seeking a court order to open records in the investigation of their son's unsolved death. (Steve Fry/The Capital-Journal via AP)

Harold Leach, left, and Alberta Leach, center, parents of Randy Leach, who was 17 when he disappeared in April 1988, talked to supporters outside Leavenworth County District Court on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017, in Leavenworth, Kan. The parents are seeking a court order to open records in the investigation of their son's unsolved death. (Steve Fry/The Capital-Journal via AP)

November 21, 2017

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Before ruling on whether to release publicly some 2,000 pages of documents from the case of a boy who disappeared in 1988, a judge plans to review them himself.

On Tuesday, Leavenworth County District Court Judge David King ordered that the documents be handed over to him, according to attorney Max Kautsch, who filed a lawsuit on behalf of Randy Leach’s parents to compel disclosure of the documents.

Kautsch said the number of pages discussed was around 2,000. The judge did not say how long he expected his review to take, Kautsch said, but he did order that the defendants produce un-redacted copies as soon as possible and “indicated that it was going to be a high priority for him.”

“I’m guardedly optimistic, because certainly the judge could have denied the request outright but decided not to,” Kautsch said. “My ultimate hope is that all the records will be disclosed, and if any portions of them are redacted that those redactions are reasonable.”

Harold and Alberta Leach’s son, then 17, was last seen April 16, 1988, at a party in Leavenworth County.

The case of his disappearance has never been solved.

For years, the Leach family has sought to see the investigative records related to Randy’s disappearance, but Leavenworth County officials have declined to release the documents.

Earlier this year, the Leaches sued to obtain the documents.

The lawsuit argues the records should be released under a provision of the Kansas Open Records Act that allows for criminal investigation records to be made public when the records are in the public interest.

“The requested records are indeed in the public interest because the media’s extensive reporting of the matter reveals a plethora of controversies related to the investigation conducted by the Leavenworth County Sheriff’s Office,” Kautsch has said previously, in a written statement. “The requested records would help the Leaches and the public investigate and resolve those controversies.”

Kautsch is an attorney for the Kansas Press Association and has represented the Journal-World in the past.

Contact public safety reporter Sara Shepherd
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Comments

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 weeks, 4 days ago

There can't be any reason for them to not release these records. It's not like it's national security. What are they hiding?

Steve Jacob 3 weeks, 4 days ago

I think they will show ideas of what happened that can never be proven. Parents deserve a right to know, even if no one is brought to justice.

Anne Dornberger 3 weeks, 3 days ago

My heart goes out to the parents, it has still got to be the utmost thing on their minds and in their hearts. For the Love of God, turn over the records, at least give them a chance to see what the authorities found and maybe they can get a clue or idea what happened from a new prospective.

Robert Marble 3 weeks ago

mostly they just show LVSCO squandered time & resources by chasing insane theories about satanic sacrifice & nearly framing local teens in the process. They stuck with that mindset for years. So much time and resources were spent on it that no sane investigation ever happened. They never even found his car. At least, that is what is shown in the 1500 or so pages that were leaked. No idea what would be revealed in the pages that have not been negligently leaked. But hopefully the judge will rule for the plaintiffs and force LVSCO to divulge the files.

Robert Marble 3 weeks ago

I had previously posted this in a reply to Ron Holzwarth, but there's important info in it so am reposting as a stand alone comment:

In fact they are hiding incompetence as well as criminal negligence at the very least. Leavenworth County Sheriff's Office (LVSCO) steered the investigation off track on the 4th day after Randy disappeared. This was due to knowingly false reports implicating two local teens which were made to LVSCO by two locals. The reports were rather outlandish & claimed the two teens were "Satanists" and murdered Randy. LVSCO investigated (as they should), but failed to see through these bogus allegations. Instead, the gullible rubes at LVSCO not only failed to disprove the allegations but actually based their entire investigation on this insane theory. They proceeded with this flawed mindset for the first several years of the investigation, which resulted in missing any real leads that may have been found if the investigators had been competent. The investigation had completely imploded by 1993. LVCSO had questioned / interviewed dozens of people who were at the party or from the community. But in doing so, they directly asked them the names of the two who were falsely implicated, and inquired if they were known to be "Satanists". By directly correlating specific names (of people in that community) to such a sensational / bizarre thing as "satanic cults", the investigators inadvertently created a situation where people began talking about this profusely. It created a raging rumor mill that engulfed the area. As investigators continued to question people, the interviewees began reporting on the rumors, not realizing they were created by the investigation itself. It was like a fire that fueled itself. This continued to increase paranoia and rumor circulation. In 1993 a con artist convinced LVSCO that he was a journalist for "Unsolved Mysteries", who promptly assigned a detective to assist him, as well as handing over the case files to him for review. The con man, known as Terry Martin / Harry Lee Harper, copied the files and left town, trying to peddle the story to various media sources. He took all the idiotic rumors that were already circulating and further embellished them to make the story more bizarre. He claimed the disappearance was due to a huge satanic cult that also sold drugs across ks and mo, and had law enforcement on the payroll. He stated he was on the run from them because he'd uncovered the conspiracy. He even convinced the assigned deputy of this idiotic story. She went on the run with him, and was later fired from the LVSCO. But all this resulted in the case files being leaked. They now exist in the public domain. This is one of the many reasons why LVSCO does not have a legitimate argument against divulging the files.

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