A Douglas County teen, suspected of murder, and her mother, accused of trying to cover for her, have been arrested in connection with a recent homicide at Perry Lake.
The women join a third suspect who was arrested last week at a Lawrence smoke shop where he worked.
The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office arrested Ashlyn Hemmerling, 18, of Baldwin City, Friday evening on suspicion of first-degree murder, Jefferson County Sheriff Jeff Herrig said. Hemmerling is being held on $1 million bond.
The sheriff’s office also arrested her mother, Sarah Hemmerling, 37, of Baldwin City, Friday evening on suspicion of obstructing apprehension or prosecution, Herrig said. State law defines that as harboring, concealing or aiding someone who has committed a crime to help them avoid arrest or prosecution. Sarah Hemmerling’s bond is $100,000, jail records indicate.
Jonathan Blevins, 22, of Topeka was arrested March 14 on suspicion of second-degree murder and later formally charged with first-degree murder, Herrig said. Sheriff’s deputies took Blevins into custody at Low Cost Tobacco Mart, 2104 W. 25th St. in Lawrence, where he worked.
The homicide victim is Taylor Sawyer, 22, who did not have a permanent address but was known to frequent the Lawrence and Topeka areas.
The morning of March 14, authorities found Sawyer’s body, with apparent gunshot wounds, in a parking area for accessing the Perry Lake walking trails.
Herrig said the sheriff’s office went to the lake that morning after hearing from a woman who said she’d witnessed a homicide there the night before.
He said Sarah Hemmerling — the victim’s girlfriend — told authorities that her daughter — Blevins’ girlfriend — had witnessed a homicide. After talking to both women on March 14, authorities arrested Blevins, Herrig said.
However, after further investigation in the days that followed, Ashlyn Hemmerling’s story didn’t add up, and she became a murder suspect as well, Herrig said. He said authorities believe Blevins pulled the trigger and that Ashlyn Hemmerling helped orchestrate the homicide.
Herrig said Sarah Hemmerling was arrested because authorities believe she helped her daughter disseminate a false story.
Circumstances leading to the homicide may have involved a domestic dispute as well as drug use, Herrig said.
The Journal-World has contacted the Jefferson County District Court for more information on the status of formal charges in the case.
Herrig said his office has worked with Douglas County, Shawnee County and Kansas Bureau of Investigation authorities on the case.
In October 2017, Jefferson County had a double-murder suicide in rural Grantville in which three adults died. Prior to that, Jefferson County’s last homicide was nearly 10 years ago, Herrig said.