Woman found in Florida park faces Kansas murder charge - KCTV5 News

Woman found in Florida park faces Kansas murder charge

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Harold Sasko's daughter, Amanda, released a picture of her with her dad. Harold Sasko's daughter, Amanda, released a picture of her with her dad.

A 19-year-old woman whose disappearance led to the discovery of a 52-year-old man's body at the Lawrence home they shared has been charged with murder.

Lawrence police Sgt. Trent McKinley said late Sunday that a Florida law enforcement agency contacted Lawrence police Saturday saying they believe they had found Sarah Brooke Gonzales McLinn.

On Monday, the Douglas County District Attorney's Office charged McLinn with first-degree murder in the death of Harold M. Sasko. Court documents indicate that McLinn, 19, acted with premeditation, which means her crime could be eligible for the death penalty in Kansas.

Authorities now say McLinn was solely responsible for Sasko's death, but her family had maintained as of Sunday that if she were involved she didn't act alone.

"The police did say that even if Sarah was involved, she could not have acted alone based on the traumatic injuries Mr. Sasko suffered," according to a statement issued by the family Sunday.

McLinn's family reported her missing earlier this month. When police went to the home where McLinn had been living, they found the body of Sasko. McLinn and Sasko's vehicle were missing.

He owned a company that managed CiCi's pizza stores in Lawrence and Topeka. McLinn worked at one of the CiCi's stores, and friends have said Sasko was helping McLinn get back on her feet.

McKinley says Lawrence detectives flew to Florida on Sunday and confirmed that McLinn had been located. A statement from authorities indicates McLinn spoke with detectives from Lawrence over the weekend.

Authorities believe Sasko was killed with "an edged instrument." Detectives have the murder weapon, authorities said.

McLinn's family had said they feared her safety and believed she was a victim. They had sought her safe return.

McLinn will be returning to Kansas but in a jail jumpsuit.

A federal park ranger for the Everglade National Park in Dade County was doing routine patrol and noticed Sasko's 2008 Nissan Altima parked at a campground after hours. After the ranger ran the plates and discovered it was connected to Sasko and McLinn, the ranger sought backup, and McLinn, who had been sleeping, was arrested without incident on an unrelated drug charge.

Authorities believe that McLinn was living in Sasko's car at the park.

"Based upon our investigation, evidence suggests Ms. McLinn gained control over Mr. Sasko and then killed him," according to court documents.

Sasko had been subdued and was unconscious, authorities said.

Authorities in Dade County dropped the drug charge and the first-degree murder charge was filed in Douglas County on Sunday.

An extradition hearing for McLinn has yet to be scheduled. If she waives extradition, she could be back in Kansas by next week.

Sasko's dog, Oliver, was with McLinn. Oliver was taken to a Miami area vet's office.

A memorial service will be held for Sasko on Feb. 16 at Christ the King Church in Topeka.

Sasko's daughter, Amanda, released a statement Sunday as well as a picture of her with her dad. She says:

"It's as if my heart was ripped out and crumbled up into pieces, words cannot describe how I feel. My dad had two sides: A business man, and a loving and caring man. He helped any soul out there that needed it, he bent over backwards for people he barely knew. He always told me he was proud of me, no matter what I did.

"Graduating High School in 4 months without him there is going to be hard, but I know he will be looking over me, and I will continue to make him as proud as I grow older and become a young adult. Being his only child, makes me want to be the best daughter ever. He taught me to be strong and set goals. I will do just that. He did not deserve to leave this earth the way he did. He will always hold a special place in my hard.  I love you always and forever Dad."

Monday night, Sasko's daughter said she wasn't surprised by the charges.

"Hearing the story the first time created a lot of questioning," she wrote in a text to KCTV5's Nathan Vickers. "I am, however, glad she is found. After the press release today, a lot of my suspicion has been confirmed. The charges against her come with no surprise."

KCTV5's Dave Eckert and Alice Barr contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.  The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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