New Clues in Teen's 1989 Cold Case Murder Point to a 'Romantic Rival' – and Possible Link to Another Slaying

Sarah Jo DeLeon's body was discovered near a highway in Kansas City, Kansas, in 1989

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After more than a quarter-century, Kansas investigators believe they are finally getting closer to solving the cold case murder of 19-year-old Sarah Jo DeLeon – and believe her death could be linked to another in the area.

In December 1989, DeLeon’s body was found near an interstate highway in Kansas City, Kansas. She was stabbed multiple times and sustained a head injury, officials said.

Police have described the person of interest as a “romantic rival.”

“We believe our suspect is female,” said Kansas City Kansas Police Department’s Det. Scott Howard during a press conference on Sunday.

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The case was reopened in 2014 when investigators believed forensic technology could generate a break in the case. In the course of the investigation, officials believed they linked DeLeon’s case and another death in nearby Independence, Missouri.

In January 1994, Diana Ault was shot to death inside her home while her 4-year-old son and 8-month-old daughter were left unharmed. Investigators have long suspected that the two were linked, but didn’t have evidence.

The investigation “revealed that the suspect and an accomplice have been involved in multiple other incidents involving the harassment and intimidation of romantic rivals,” according to a press release. Police plan to submit a name to the district attorney’s office in the coming weeks.

But now investigators believe there’s a possible link to a third case.

On Feb. 13, 1987, an unidentified woman was tricked into leaving her home in a limousine and was taken to a motel in the Kansas City area. Police did not release any additional details, although it appears that woman was kidnapped but not killed.

“Police want to know if anyone has any information related to the Feb. 13 incident,” says Thomas Tomasic, spokesperson for KCKPD. “If they can get some good information from that, it looks like they can tie all three cases together.”

Officials have been reluctant to share many details regarding any of the cases or how they’re connected, but Tomasic said police hope the public might be able to help them with information.

Despite the possibility of the three cases being linked, Tomasic says they don’t think it’s a serial killer.

“The first one with the kidnapping, they didn’t do anything to that person. But the [modus operandi] of it kind of matches the other two, so we’re trying to get information on that one,” Tomasic says. “I don’t think they’ve ever been able to say one person has committed at least two murders. These are the only two murders they believe one person has committed.”

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