Douglas County prosecutors filed a first-degree murder charge against a 19-year-old woman who vanished before authorities found a man’s body this month in the Lawrence home that the two shared.
National park rangers arrested Sarah Brooke Gonzales McLinn on Saturday in Everglades National Park in southern Florida after finding her illegally camping in the victim’s car after the park had closed for the night, Lawrence Police Chief Tarik Khatib said Monday.
McLinn was being held in federal custody on an unrelated drug charge until she could be transferred to state custody to begin extradition proceedings on the Kansas charge.
If she waives extradition, she could return to Lawrence as soon as this week to face allegations that she killed Harold Sasko, 52, said Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson.
“If she fights it, it could be several months before she comes back,” Branson said.
Police did not release a motive for the killing of Sasko, who owned CiCi’s pizza restaurants in Topeka and Lawrence.
Khatib would not describe the evidence against McLinn but did say that Sasko was “somehow subdued.” Khatib later explained that as meaning Sasko was not conscious when killed. And in a statement issued later Monday, police said, “Based upon our investigation, evidence suggests Ms. McLinn gained control over Mr. Sasko and then killed him.”
Investigators found the murder weapon, Khatib said.
“The investigation is ongoing, and much remains to be done,” he said.
Sasko’s younger brother, Glenn Sasko, said the family was relieved that McLinn had been located and charged in the death. He said Harold Sasko had known McLinn, who had worked for him, “for a long time.”
“I was up there a few years ago and helped him remodel one of the bathrooms at one of the CiCi’s, and he was trying to help her then,” Glenn Sasko told The Star in a phone call from Florida. “I think he gave her mom a fan or air conditioner or something like that.”
Glenn Sasko said his brother was the 10th of 12 children.
“He was organized. He was management material,” he said. “He was on the straight and narrow. His character is just the utmost. I’ve got a lot of brothers to choose from, and he was my favorite.”
Police went to Harold Sasko’s home Jan. 17 looking for McLinn after family members said they had not been able to reach her since Jan. 14. Looking in a window, they saw a person on the floor. After entering, they determined Sasko was dead from “traumatic injuries,” police said.
McLinn was gone, as was Sasko’s 2008 Nissan Altima and his dog, Oliver.
Police think she went to Texas and then Florida, Khatib said. Authorities will try to retrace her route, he said.
They think Oliver is in Florida at a veterinarian’s office, Khatib said.