The security guard who worked close to where Kaylee Sawyer was last seen has been arrested in California. Authorities announced on the morning of July 26 that 31-year-old Edwin Lara had been arrested without incident along I-5 close to Red Bluff, some 300 miles from where Sawyer, 23, lived in Bend, Oregon. Police had previously stated that Lara was considered to be armed-and-dangerous.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Lara Is a Student at the Community College Where He Worked as a Security Guard
KOIN News reports that Lara is an employee of Central Oregon Community College where he worked as a public safety officer. Lara is from Redmond, Oregon, stands at 5-feet-7 and weighs 180 pounds. Bend police spokesman Lt. Clint Burleigh told KTVZ, “We really need to find this guy. My gut tells me he’s out of the area.”
An announcement from the Bend Bulletin about students on the dean’s list at Central Oregon Community College shows that Edwin Lara was a student there in October 2014. The college is a school of around 17,000 students located in Bend, Oregon. The public safety department at the school is run by Jim Bennett and has a staff of nine officers and one civilian. The Bend Bulletin reports that Lara has been working as a security guard since December 2014.
The Bend Bulletin reports that Sawyer was last seen in the parking lot of her apartment complex close to the Central Oregon Community College building. That was at around 1 a.m. on July 24. She was reported missing by her family at around 7 p.m. on that day.
According to the Central Oregon Community College, Sawyer is not a “current” student at the school.
2. Lara Was Reported to be Traveling With a Womand; Authorities Believed She Was Kidnapping Victim
Initial reports indicated that Lara was thought to have been traveling with a woman who was a kidnapping victim, according to the Redding Record Searchlight. The newspaper also reports that Lara’s cellphone was pinged along Interstate 5, close to the town of Redding, 160 miles north of Sacramento, at around 6:30 a.m. local time. Lara was driving a stolen Honda Accord when he was taken into custody and was armed, according to authorities.
3. Police Haven’t Said What Led Them to Turn Sawyer’s Case From Missing Persons to Murder
Lt. Burleigh declined to be specific about what turned the investigation from a missing person case to a murder case. KOIN News reports that Sawyer had her cell phone with her when she was last seen but it now appears to have been turned off. Late on the night of July 25, Burleigh gave a press briefing in which he said, “The investigation into the disappearance of Kaylee led officers to multiple addresses in the Redmond Oregon area. Information gathered by investigators during the day (Monday) has changed the type of investigation from a missing person to a homicide investigation.”
Meanwhile, the search for Sawyer goes on. In a statement, the Destiny Project, a volunteer group who are leading the search for Sawyer, said:
The family of Kaylee Sawyer who went missing over the weekend are heartbroken over the news overnight in this case.
The Bend Police Department are now treating this case as a homicide. We will still be launching a volunteer-based search to find her and bring her home. This situation is developing quickly and may change at any time.
The family is working with the Destiny Search Project which provides assistance in organizing missing person searches.
The family asks that volunteers come prepared for the heat, walking, and possibility of being in fields and other terrain.
Volunteers will need to bring valid identification. Check-in will begin at 7:30 am and volunteers can come throughout the day. You should expect to search for at least an hour and will be welcomed to go out on multiple searches.
Destiny Search Project is also beginning plans for a public vigil in support of Kaylee and her family. Details of that event will be released later today. This is a rapidly changing situation and we appreciate your patience as we work in support of Kaylee’s family.
4. Sawyer Has 4 Younger Brother & Is ‘Very Close’ With Her Family
Sawyer’s mother, Jane VanCleave, told KTVZ that her daughter is close with the rest of her family and it’s very unusual for them to not hear from her. VanCleave said, “She has four younger brothers that desperately want their sister home.” A Facebook group has been set up to aid the search for Sawyer.
According to her Facebook page, Sawyer is dating a man named Cameron Reimhofer, a construction worker from Bend. The couple has been together since July 2014. Sawyer works as a dental assistant at Awbrey Dental Group having previously worked as IBEX Global in Washington D.C. On her LinkedIn page, Sawyer says she worked for a time in tech support at Apple.
5. Lara Has No Criminal Record
The Bend Bulletin reports that Lara has no criminal record in Oregon. The newspaper adds that there are multiple law-enforcement agencies working on the case.