BEND, OR -- The murder of Kaylee Sawyer captured the attention of Central Oregonians and Friday night, her story will be shared with the world. Sawyer’s July 2016 murder near Central Oregon Community College in Bend is the focus of Friday's Dateline episode, "Into The Night." Click HERE to watch a preview.
Juli VanCleave says deciding to open up and be vulnerable about her daughter was difficult. But, she chose to work with Dateline NBC after meeting producers and realizing they would honor Sawyer’s legacy, "I want people to remember Kaylee. I don't want people to remember Kaylee as 'Kaylee Sawyer: the murder victim.' It was really important for me to keep her name out there in the community." And, she says, she wanted to honor the community's support since her daughter's death
, "The community rallied around us from the moment I posted that she was missing. And, it was important for us to thank the community and let people know, even though this horrible thing happened in Bend, that Bend is still an amazing town full of amazing people."
She tells KBND News she also hopes the primetime exposure rights a wrong made nearly two years ago, regarding Sawyer's boyfriend. Some thought he was involved in her disappearance, "In the beginning, you know, there was a lot of misinformation that had gone out – that Kaylee took off after this big fight with Cam. I think it’s hurtful that that is always kind of the lead-in to what happened. And, I saw my daughter so very happy; and I saw an amazing young man who loved my daughter. And there wasn’t a single time that us, the family, ever questioned Cam’s story." Former COCC security guard Edwin Lara pleaded guilty to Aggravated Murder, in January,
and is now serving a life sentence. Prosecutors say he killed Sawyer on July 24, 2016
after abducting the 23-year-old woman while on patrol near the Bend campus.
VanCleave says she’s proud of how the show turned out. Dateline: “Into the Night” airs Friday at 9 p.m., on NBC.