Judge dismisses case against woman in 1989 murder

Posted at 6:47 PM, Apr 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-08 00:04:42-04

A judge dismissed the case against Carolyn Heckert Friday in the 1989 murder of Sarah DeLeon.

Heckert, 48, was released Friday night, ending her nearly six-month stint at the Wyandotte County jail.

While Heckert stayed mum leaving jail, her attorney John O’Connor spoke with 41 Action News.

“She has always maintained her innocence. It's hard to explain, and I think she's still in shock but obviously relieved,” O’Connor said. 

In 1989, days before New Year’s Eve, someone discovered DeLeon stabbed along the railroad tracks near I-435 and Wolcott Drive. KCK police found her car a few miles away.

DeLeon’s murder became a high-profile case but it turned cold.

“I figured nothing would happen. I just let myself believe that this is how it’s going to be and I went on,” Rachel Kannard, DeLeon's older sister, said back in October 2016.

Detectives took a new look at the case almost three years ago. 

Advances in technology led them to analyze key DNA from the crime scene resulting in Heckert’s arrest in October.

But on Friday afternoon Judge Aaron Roberts ruled that while there is reasonable suspicion, there is not enough probable cause - nothing beyond motive and behavioral evidence.

“It's a thoughtful ruling,” O’Connor said. “He took a lot of time explaining his ruling and there's some record of that ruling so I'll stand by what the judge had to say.”

The judge did rule that the district attorney's office has the option of refiling charges in future.