UPDATE: Smithville woman charged in Sarah DeLeon's 1989 murder

Posted at 6:47 PM, Oct 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-20 23:16:19-04

Carolyn Heckert has been charged in Sarah DeLeon's 1989 murder. 

Wyandotte County District Attorney Jerome Gorman charged Heckert with first-degree murder. 

Heckert was taken into custody by the U.S. Marshals Service in Clay County and is currently being held on a $1 million bond.  

She is in the Clay County, Missouri, jail awaiting extradition to Kansas. 

At first, DeLeon’s mother didn’t believe someone was in custody, nearly 30 years after her daughter’s death.

“I didn’t, until I saw her name in print and I saw her mugshot online,” Gail Elieson said. “And it was, it was awesome. It felt wonderful."

DeLeon was found stabbed to death on December 29, 1989. Her case was reopened in July 2014 when new technology became available to analyze forensic evidence. 

DeLeon’s family was persistent in getting answers.

“I had to help Sarah have a voice here,” Elieson said. “I had to help her get a day in court, and as long as there was a possibility, I could not stop."

“It really is like just ripping off a scab,” said Rachel Kannard.

Kannard was only 20 when she found out her then 18-year-old sister, DeLeon, was murdered. Kannard said over the years she learned to suppress the details of her little sister’s unsolved murder.

“I didn’t have to deal with it, it was just gone I figured nothing would happen I just let myself believe ok this is how it’s going to be and I went on," said Kannard.

That all changed on Wednesday with the arrest of 48-year-old Heckert.

The Wyandotte County DA would not go into specifics on what evidence they have on Heckert.

Last May, KCK police told 41 Action News they suspected DeLeon may have been targeted because she was a romantic rival

News of the arrest brings mixed emotions for Kannard.

“I was happy, I was angry, I was sad I was then happy again all in like 30 seconds," said Kannard.

Happy someone may finally be held responsible 27 years later, and angry Kannard has had to live her life without her little sister by her side.

Kannard knows there is still a long road ahead of her in finding resolution.

“This is been like the first 24 hours of the next part of this story and it’s something that we are all going to have to build ourselves back up to start again," said Kannard.

Neighbors who knew of Heckert said she was not the most approachable. They mentioned a no trespassing sign just went up on her property on Thursday. 

Brylie Carlson, who lives just a few blocks away from Heckert's home, said although she did not know her, she said it's news no mom wants to hear.

"I think as a parent it’s just one of those reminders that we’re not invincible, and it’s just one of things can happen anywhere, anytime," Carlson said. "It’s not anyone over here goes, 'Oh yeah, I expected that,' you know? I think it’s unfortunate and for so long to be hidden, that’s a tough thing."

The Kansas City, Kansas Police Department launched a website in June to solve cold cases. Click here to learn more about the site here

KCK police initially confirmed to 41 Action News that an arrest had been made in another cold case, Diana Ault’s 1994 murder. Police in Independence, where Ault was murdered, told 41 Action News there has not been an arrest in that case.



Follow 41 Action News on Twitter:

Follow @41ActionNews

Like 41 Action News on Facebook: