Thursday, June 07, 2007

Police Find Missing Kansas Teen's Body, Suspect Arrested

Sources: KCTV, MSN &
Picture of Ed Hall from his MySpace page (corrected link)
A suspect was arrested [as I predicted] Wednesday evening in the slaying of a teenage Kansas girl believed abducted from the parking lot of an Overland Park Target store. Edwin R. Hall, 26, of Olathe, Kansas, is expected to be charged this morning with premeditated first-degree murder and aggravated kidnapping, Overland Park Police Chief John Douglass said. Johnson County prosecutor Phill Kline said his office would file formal charges early Thursday or, at the latest, Friday morning. "Tomorrow morning [Thursday] the Johnson County district attorney's office will file premeditated first-degree murder and aggravated kidnapping* charges against Edwin Hall, 26 years of age, with the disappearance and death of Kelsey Smith," Kline said Wednesday. "This community has lost a vibrant and promising life and a family has suffered unimaginable tragedy." Kline said it was premeditated murder and is requesting a $5 million bond for Hall.

Kelsey Smith, 18, had been missing since Saturday night, when she went to a Target store to buy a gift for her boyfriend. Surveillance video showed her being forced into her car, and the car drove off. It was found in a nearby mall parking lot about two hours later. Douglass said Hall matched the description of a man seen on surveillance video walking into the store soon after Smith entered. Police also found a vehicle that matched the description of a dark mid-1970s Chevrolet pickup that was seen entering the Target parking lot shortly after Smith's car, he said. The truck was in Edwin Hall's possession.

A man who lives near the area where Smith's body was found told KMBC that he saw a vehicle in the park at about 9 p.m. Saturday, which matches the police time line. The man, who didn't want his name used, said he doesn't know what type of vehicle it was, but he remembers seeing headlights behind a locked gate on the road.

Douglass said Hall was interviewed mid-afternoon Wednesday after police acted on a tip that matched Hall and a vehicle to surveillance video from the Target store parking lot in suburban Kansas City where Smith was abducted Saturday evening. He said he had no information why Smith was targeted, or if Hall was believed to have acted alone. Police said Hall's vehicle matched the description of a dark mid-1970s Chevrolet pickup that was seen entering the Target parking lot shortly after Smith's car. Police found Smith's body in a wooded area near Grandview, Mo., about 20 miles east of the Target store. Authorities did not say how she died.

According to Chief Douglass, "Mr. Hall faces 25 years to life minimum sentence on the premeditated murder charge, 147 months minimum sentence on the aggravated kidnapping charge. There is a distinct possibility of an amendment for more severe charges in the future."

* = Aggravated kidnapping charge is defined as kidnapping with "great bodily harm". As I commented on yesterday, Kelsey was likely rendered unconscious or even dead at the time of her was kidnapping (in the Target parking lot or car as they left the store) -- not later on. If that is the case, it would account for the surprise that Kelsey did not fight back (as her father and sister said she would have done).
The aggravated kidnapping charge likely came from the visible effects of damage to Kelsey's body -- which may have accounted for the delay in identifying her body when she found yesterday around 1:30pm.