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Missing Person Case Shifts to Homicide

1:30 p.m. UPDATE: Bend Police say it was a rookie officer who tipped off investigators that Edwin Lara might've been involved in Kaylee Sawyer's disappearance. Lara's wife is a newly hired Bend Police officer currently in training. Investigators say she called Redmond Police late Monday morning, immediately after learning of her husband's potential connection to the case. They say she is cooperating with the investigation and police do not believe she is involved in Sawyer's disappearance.




11:30 a.m. UPDATE: Family and friends, along with volunteers from Destiny Search Project, continue searching for Kaylee Sawyer, throughout the day. They've scheduled a public candlelight vigil for 8 p.m. Tuesday at Discovery Park (1315 NW Discovery Drive). The Destiny Search Project says this remains a rapidly changing situation and the family appreciates the support they've received over the last two days. 




10:30 a.m. UPDATE: We're learning more about the incidents that led to the arrest of 31-year-old Edwin Lara, Tuesday morning. According to information released by police in Yreka, California, Lara and a 19-year-old woman were taken into custody after an alleged series of crimes spanning two hours and several cities.


At 5 a.m., police responded to a Yreka motel after a person was shot in the stomach. That male victim was taken to the hospital in unstable and critical condition. Five minutes later, a man called 911 saying his car had been taken from a gas station, with three members of his family still inside. At about 5:41 a.m., those three victims called police to report the carjackers had dropped them off at a rest area on I-5, north of Weed, CA. Shortly after 7 a.m., California Highway Patrol in Red Bluff advised they had two suspects in custody, along with the carjacking victim's vehicle. 


Lara and the woman were booked into the Tehama County Jail on charges of Attempted Murder, Kidnapping, Carjacking, Burglary and other charges. Yreka Police and other agencies are working multiple crime scenes and are sharing information related to Sawyer's disappearance in Bend. [Edit: Charges were later dropped against the woman as investigators learned she was also a victim.]




8:30 a.m. UPDATE: Bend Police say Edwin Lara has been taken into custody in Northern California in connection with Kaylee Sawyer's disappearance. The investigation is "fluid" and more information is coming to light as they go.




BEND, OR -- (July 26, 2016) The search for a missing 23-year-old Bend woman has shifted to a homicide investigation, police said overnight. Kaylee Sawyer was last seen early Sunday morning in the parking lot of her apartment, near Central Oregon Community College. Her mother, Juli VanCleave, says Kaylee's boyfriend had gone inside after an argument. Kaylee told him via text, that she was leaving on foot. The boyfriend is fully cooperating with authorities. 


Late Monday night, Police announced 31-year-old Edwin Lara (pictured above) is a person of interest. The Redmond man is a part-time campus public safety officer at COCC and is 5'7", 180-pounds. The Central Oregon Major Crimes Team is now leading the investigation and say he should be considered armed and dangerous. Anyone who sees Lara should not approach him, but call 911, immediately. Investigators were led to multiple addresses in the Redmond area, prompting police to shift the focus of the case to a homicide. 
VanCleave tells KBND News, "This is not common behavior for my daughter. For her to be out of contact - phone, Facebook, Instagram, all that kind of stuff - for her not to have anything is completely not normal. So, I feel that someone may have picked her up and she may not be able to contact us." She adds, "I don't think that she would take off, either me or - she's very close with her 16-year-old brother - that she wouldn't text him and let him know where she's at."
VanCleave says, "She's a happy, outgoing, bubbly person. That's my biggest concern - I don't know if somebody stopped and said 'do you need a ride?' I don't know if my daughter would say 'no thanks.' I think that she might think that if the person looks nice, she might get in the car. That's my biggest concern is that she just got in the car with the wrong person."
Family and friends are working with the Destiny Search Project and plan to gather Tuesday morning to search for Sawyer. A vigil in her honor is also in the planning stages.

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John Kruse
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