A judge has ruled against the parents of a child missing for nearly 30 years who sought to obtain records related to the case.
The parents, Harold and Alberta Leach, filed a lawsuit in Leavenworth County District Court in August to force Leavenworth County and the Leavenworth County Sheriff’s Department to release records from the investigation of their son's 1988 disappearance.
In his decision to not release the records, Leavenworth County District Court Judge David King cited the Kansas Open Records Act, which does not subject criminal investigation records to mandatory public disclosure. King said that the law makes the release of such records discretionary and not dependent on the status of the case.
“The limitations on the disclosure of criminal investigation records is not dependent on how old the investigation is or whether the case remains unresolved or not,” King said in his ruling. “It is not dependent on law enforcement showing a certain level of continued ongoing investigation activity in the case.”
The couple's son, then 17-year-old Randy Leach, was last seen April 16, 1988, at a party in Leavenworth County. The case remains unsolved and the family has sought the records for years. In November, Lawrence attorney Max Kautsch, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Leach family, told the Journal-World that the number of pages at issue was around 2,000.
Kautsch argued in the lawsuit that the records should be released under a provision of the law that allows for criminal investigation records to be made public when in the public interest. Kautsch said in an email to the Journal-World that his clients are disappointed in the decision and are considering all their legal options.