A Missouri real estate agent is accused in the 27-year-old murder of an alleged romantic rival, a cold case police say they finally cracked when new DNA technology became available.
DeLeon was a Kansas City, Kansas Community College student when she was murdered in 1989, the television station said. People Magazine said that police previously revealed that they think DeLeon’s murder may be tied to the death of another young woman years ago.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Victim’s Stabbed Body Was Dumped Near Railroad Tracks
DeLeon died from a head wound and also multiple stab wounds, and her body was found near railroad tracks, says Fox 4. Police believe her body was dumped there due to lack of blood at the tracks.
According to The Kansas City Star, DeLeon’s car was found “with the door open and the flashers on, about a mile from her home under the Interstate 70 overpass at 78th Street.”
There was no evidence of a struggle or sexual assault, said the newspaper. Police have not detailed what evidence led them to Heckert, but they have said that new DNA technology allowed them to make progress in the cold case.
2. A Romantic Rivalry May Be Behind the Murder, Reports Say
DeLeon was killed after leaving her boyfriend’s home at 1 a.m., The Kansas City Star said.
KHSB-TV reported that police say “DeLeon may have been targeted because she was a romantic rival.” According to UK Daily Mail, Heckert and DeLeon may have dated the same man.
KMBC-TV reported that DeLeon’s mother said “DeLeon was dating” the ex-boyfriend of Heckert.
3. Heckert Worked as a Real Estate Agent for Years & Is Married With Children
People Magazine reported that Heckert “worked as a longtime real estate agent before her arrest.”
Neighbors said Heckert was not approachable and recently put a no trespassing sign on her property in Smithville, which is near Kansas City, said KSHB-TV.
KMBC said that Hecker is married with two daughters.
4. Police Said in May That They Thought DeLeon’s Death Was Connected to Another Cold Case
According to People Magazine, in May, police said they had an unidentified suspect in DeLeon’s death and also said they thought the case was “linked to the 1994 murder of Diana Ault, 26, in Independence, Missouri, who was shot to death in her home surrounded by her young children.”
KMBC-TV said Ault was shot in the chest as she walked toward her kitchen with her infant daughter and 4-year-old son. Her house was ransacked, but the only thing taken was a gun belonging to her husband, which was used to kill Ault and was found in her car in a church parking lot nearby, the television station said. The 4-year-old boy tried to call 911 but couldn’t figure it out, said KCTV.
Heckert has not been accused of that murder.
ABC News reported that, in May, police said the unidentified DeLeon murder suspect “and an accomplice have been involved in other incidents involving the harassment and intimidation of romantic rivals.”
ABC said that police say the unidentified suspect they were talking about was Heckert, but they would not comment further on the Ault case.
Detectives were also “seeking information about a possible 1987 abduction that may have been related to the DeLeon case,” said ABC. The possible abduction involved a woman being tricked into entering a limousine and then taken to an area hotel, said KSHB.
KMBC said that Ault’s husband, Tim, “said he had an affair and moved out to live with another woman shortly before his wife’s death” who worked with him at a postal facility. The television station added that “the postal worker had dated DeLeon’s boyfriend, then he broke up with her to go back to DeLeon.”
Ault’s mother said that Heckert was known as Carol Coon back then, and that Ault’s husband had an affair with Coon but then reconciled with his wife, according to KMBC.
5. DeLeon’s Family Says She Did Not Live a High Risk Lifestyle
Gail Elieson, DeLeon’s mother, told KSHB-TV: “I had to help Sarah have a voice here. I had to help her get a day in court, and as long as there was a possibility, I could not stop.”
The Associated Press quoted Elieson as saying of DeLeon, “She had no enemies. Everybody loved her. She did not live a high-risk lifestyle.”
Sarah’s brother told KMBC that she had been harassed and bullied before she died.
Ault was receiving harassing calls from a woman before she died, her husband said, according to Inside Edition. Her father told KCTV: “Ault changed her locks and phone number, even filing a harassment report with Independence police.”