Archive for Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Investigators breathe life into ‘88 case

December 11, 2002

The Randy Leach case is back on the front burner.

A team of Leavenworth County sheriff's officers and Kansas Bureau of Investigation agents has assembled to make another attempt at trying to determine what happened to the 17-year-old Linwood boy more than 14 years ago.

¢ If you have information about the disappearance of Randy Wayne Leach, 17, in April 1988, call the Kansas Bureau of Investigation toll-free: (800) KS CRIME (572-7463). Calls may be anonymous.

¢ Randy Leach, who was born July 25, 1970, was last seen about 2 a.m. April 16, 1988, at a party on 166th Street, south of Loring Road.

¢ He had driven to the party in his mother's gray 1985 Dodge 600 four-door sedan. Investigators say no one saw Leach or the car leave the party. The car never was found.

¢ A $5,000 governor's reward is being offered for investigation leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.

And while investigators insist nothing special prompted their decision to dive back into the case, they are now convinced that Randy Wayne Leach was murdered.

"We're going to treat it as a homicide investigation rather than a missing persons investigation," said Major Dave Zoellner of the sheriff's department.

"That's based on the fact that a reasonable person would suspect there's got to be foul play involved."

Leach last was seen about 1 a.m. April 16, 1988, at a pre-graduation party thrown by a high school classmate. The party was held at a southeastern Leavenworth County home on 166th Street, south of Loring Road. During the years since Leach disappeared, the home burned down, Zoellner said.

Randy Leach's parents are hopeful the new probe can uncover what happened to their only child.

"Anything that they can do at this point, we appreciate," said Harold Leach, Randy's father. "I don't quite understand why it's taken this long. Whatever the reason, we're grateful for it."

Leach said investigators wanted to talk with both him and his wife, individually. Last Friday, Leach met with officers.

"Primarily," he said, "they went back over what I'd told them before, to make sure I was telling them the same thing."

During the months and years after his son's disappearance, Harold Leach came to believe that law enforcement officers hadn't done enough to solve the case.

"At this point, I don't want to be critical of them," Leach said on Tuesday. "Let them do their job and let them go from there. I'm encouraged we have several new detectives, so maybe it will be a different path they will take. We're just grateful for any help we can get."

Zoellner said investigators, who are based at the Leavenworth County annex in Tonganoxie, plan to explore a variety of leads. The six sheriff's detectives, five KBI agents and Zoellner are working under no particular time line, the major said.

"There's got to be somebody out there who has seen something, heard something or knows something or who has some information but has not come forward, and that's what we're looking for," Zoellner said.

Most of the 12 investigators have not worked on the case previously.

"So that gives us a new set of eyes and a fresh look into the case," said Zoellner, who was not among sheriff's officers who previously worked on the case.

Each morning, team members meet to brief one another on information obtained the previous day.

"You go around the table," Zoellner said. "We go over that, and new leads are assigned."

He said he's hopeful the renewed investigation will prove fruitful.

"We'll see where it takes us," Zoellner said.

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