When Kortni McGill went to check on her friend Andrew Sout at his farm just outside Ottawa, Kan., on Sunday, Stout was nowhere to be seen.
Neither was an Olathe woman who had been staying with Stout or that woman’s young daughter. Both had been reported missing last week.
But McGill spotted a clean pair of baby socks folded up in the driveway near a set of footprints in the mud. She also smelled a terrible odor coming from the house, near her friend’s bedroom, and the garage.
So McGill called Franklin County deputies, who looked in the garage and house.
The “smell of death poured out of the house,” McGill said. “It reeked.”
Yet deputies concluded the stench was from trash and “living dirty,” McGill said. They didn’t seem to be interested in the socks or footprints, either, McGill said.
But McGill couldn’t let it go. She and two friends returned to the farm in the 3100 block of Georgia Road on Monday. They inspected the garage and found a decomposing woman’s body under a blue tarp with a drum set and other items piled on top of her.
Franklin County deputies later found the bodies of two men on the property and announced they were investigating a triple homicide. Other Kansas law enforcement agencies sent about 40 detectives to help follow leads and Johnson County sent crime scene investigators to help recover evidence from the sprawling crime scene.
“We have three homicides on a very large scene,” Sheriff Jeff Richards said at a news conference Tuesday.
Richards acknowledged that deputies found nothing on Sunday. He said that when officers responded Monday, they got a search warrant and found the other bodies.
When reporters asked why deputies didn’t conduct a more thorough search Sunday, he said he wanted to focus on the criminal investigation at hand.
“I don’t want to Monday morning quarterback at this time,” he said. “So after this is all said and done, we’ll review everything that happened in this case.”
Deputies have not released the names of the victims, but the woman is feared by relatives to be the missing Olathe woman, Kaylie Bailey, 21, who was last seen headed to the farm on May 1 with her 18-month-old daughter, Lana Bailey.
The toddler also is missing, but police have not called an Amber Alert because they said she was last seen with her mother and her mother hasn’t been identified as a homicide victim.
Police, however, on Tuesday were looking for a black 2007 Toyota Corolla that matched the description of Bailey’s car in connection with the homicides, The car has a vanity plate on the front bumper and a Kansas license plate 618 DAA. The passenger-side mirror is secured with gray duct tape.
They also sought to question two men who might have information in the case. One of the men was someone who lived with Stout at the farm. The other is Bailey’s former brother-in-law who, a relative said, did speak with police Tuesday.
A former roommate of Stout was reported missing from Ottawa, and his mother showed up at the crime scene Tuesday.
The fact that police have refused to call an Amber Alert infuriates the toddler’s paternal grandmother, Rachel Helms-Bailey.
“Why on earth are they not putting this out there to find this baby?” she said. “They have been missing for seven days!”
Kaylie Bailey left her mother’s home in Olathe about noon on May 1 to go to Stout’s farm. When she didn’t show up at work that night, or the next night, relatives grew worried.
Relatives filed a missing person report with Olathe police on Friday. Olathe police gave Franklin County authorities an address Friday where Bailey was intending to go.
Sheriff Richards said Tuesday that investigators still had not confirmed that Bailey even made it to the address.
But McGill said the child’s socks could have been a clue. She said it has rained since Bailey was last seen and the socks seemed “fresh from the laundry,” indicating to her that they were dropped sometime after Bailey vanished.
“I am not impressed with how they handled this,” she said of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.
McGill said Bailey’s car was not at the farm and the roommate’s truck was also gone. Stout didn’t have a working vehicle. His broken-down car was in the garage next to the blue tarp.
A cinder block weighed down part of the tarp. When McGill bent over to lift the block, she saw a jaw with full set of teeth through the hole in the cinder block. She could also see an eye and hair. She didn’t look in the other hole of the block, and she and her friends backed out of the garage, not wanting to disturb any evidence.
Kaylie Bailey initiated divorce proceedings earlier this year after her husband, Shawn Bailey, went to jail in Missouri, where he is facing prison time, according to his mother, Helms-Bailey.
Helms-Bailey said that her son did not want a divorce and that he had hoped Kaylie would wait for him to get out of prison. But Kaylie began dating, friends say, and was seeing Stout.
Kaylie and Stout worked together at the American Eagle Outfitters warehouse in Ottawa. Stout hasn’t been seen since April 25.
Helms-Bailey said another son, who was being sought by police, called detectives Tuesday night to clear his name. She said he was with her in Lebanon, Mo., from April 27 through May 2. She said her son told detectives he hasn’t been in Franklin County for months.
Richards told the Ottawa Herald late Tuesday that investigators had spoken with the other son and he is no longer being sought by law enforcement.
Helms-Bailey said her son Shawn began dating Kaylie when Kaylie was 16. They married in 2009 and lived with Helms-Bailey for years in Ottawa, and several other cities. All the while, Kaylie never missed work, she said. Kaylie moved out about six months ago to live with her mother in Olathe. The couple divorced at the end of March, she said.
“I pray that’s not her on that farm,” Helms-Bailey said. “And I’m worried sick about my granddaughter.”