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Woman Charged with First-Degree Murder In 1989 Cold Case Killing of Kansas College Student

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Kansas City, Kansas Police Department

A Missouri woman was charged on Thursday in the death of a woman whose body was discovered nearly 30 years ago in Kansas City, Kansas.

Carolyn J. Heckert, 48, was charged with first-degree murder on Wednesday for the 1989 killing of 18-year-old Sarah DeLeon, according to the Associated Press. DeLeon was stabbed along railroad tracks and suffered a head wound, police said.

The suspect was arrested on Wednesday in Smithville, Missouri, about 20 miles north of Kansas City. She was being held Thursday in the Clay County jail on a $1 million bond and awaiting extradition to Kansas, according to the AP. It is not yet clear what she plead.

New DNA collection and testing technology spurred police to review the DeLeon murder case in July 2014, according to police.

Gail Elieson, DeLeon’s mother, said she was pleased with the developments in the case.

“It just took a long time to get to this point,” she told the AP. “It will be 27 years in December” since her daughter was killed, she said.

The Kansas City Star reported that Elieson had never met Heckert but knew that she was a suspect in her daughter’s death.

Heckert was 21-years-old at the time DeLeon was killed. She worked as a longtime real estate agent before her arrest.

In May, Kansas City police said they’d identified a female suspect in connection with DeLeon’s murder, although a name was not released at the time.

They said DeLeon’s case was thought to be linked to the 1994 murder of Diana Ault, 26, in Independence, Missouri, who was shot to death in her home surrounded by her young children, according to The Kansas City Star.

DeLeon was studying at a community college before her murder, her mother said. Elieson considers the killing of her daughter as “something very personal, with a lot of rage.”

“She had no enemies. Everybody loved her,” Elieson said. “She did not live a high-risk lifestyle.”