The stories shared Sunday about Sarah De Leon and Diana Ault swelled with the love of people who will always remember the way the two women lived their shortened lives.
But as long as the murders 20 and 24 years ago remain unsolved, they can’t forget the way the women died.
More than 100 people gathered at nightfall Sunday at Richard L. Berkley Riverfront Park, cupping candles in a chilling wind, to hear the stories and lend support for renewing investigations into the deaths that they think could be connected.
Josh Ault was only 4 when his mother was shot in their Independence home right after she returned with her two young children on Jan. 31, 1994.
He remembers the startling sound of the gunshot by an intruder. He remembers “seeing the shadow of her falling to the floor,” he said.
“I will remember until we get the closure and the justice that is deserved,” he said.
Matt De Leon was just 17 the night shortly after Christmas in 1989 when his 18-year-old sister, Sarah, disappeared from their Kansas City, Kan., home. He feared he’d learn she had been in a terrible car accident. Instead, he learned “she was brutally murdered stabbed to death and thrown under a bridge next to some railroad tracks.”
Independence police recently reopened their investigation of Ault’s death. The families have been urging Kansas City, Kan., police to do the same with De Leon’s case, but the department so far does not appear to have done so, said Michall Holmes, a friend of the Ault family.
The families think a person who is connected to both of the victims might be a link in the cases, Holmes said.
The vigil ended with a bagpipe serenade of “Amazing Grace” while snapshots on a movie screen showed each of the smiling women with the people they loved so many years ago — the better memories that their families and friends carried home.