Kaylee Sawyer

Kaylee Sawyer

May 28, 2020

"I want to ask if it is in your heart to forgive me. You don't have to. I know I allowed the devil to rule my life. I just ask you to forgive me and ask the Lord to forgive me for allowing the devil to deceive me. I thank God for having patience with me. I don't deserve to cause you pain. You did not deserve this. I deserve what I am getting."
-Angel Maturino Resendiz
It was the 23rd of July 2016. A Saturday. That night, twenty three old Kaylee Sawyer went to downtown Bend. Bend is a small city on the Deschutes River, in Oregon, United States. It was her friend's bachelorette party and she had been looking forward to it. After midnight, she was ready to go home. She called her boyfriend Camron Reimhofer. She lived with him on the college campus and he told her he would collect her and she waited for him with a few friends at a restaurant downtown. 

Kaylee

Camron arrived shortly after the call. On the way back home, they got into an argument and when they arrived at their apartment complex, Kaylee stayed in the car while her boyfriend went inside. He waited for ten minutes inside the apartment. There was no sign of Kaylee so he went to the car to tell her to come inside. But when he got to the car, Kaylee was gone. 

Kaylee

He called her and text a few times and tried to persuade her to come home but she refused. He did not know where she was. She turned off her phone. 

Kaylee worked with the Aubrey Dental Group as a dental assistant and was due to work the next day. When she didn't arrive at work, her mother and Camron were worried. Camron reported her missing to the police.

 

On the Monday morning, the 25th of July, Isabel Ponce-Lara, a new Bend Police Officer, went to the Redmond Police Department. It was around noon. She made a report to police that that morning her husband, Edwin Lara, confessed that he had killed a woman. 

Edwin Lara

Edwin was a security guard at the Central Oregon Community College. He drove a security patrol vehicle during work. According to Isabel, she text Edwin on the Saturday night at around 11.30pm. She went to bed after that text and was not awake when he got home at some point after that. He was beside her in bed when she woke up the next morning some time between 7.30-8 am. They went to Church as they normally would on a Sunday morning and she observed that Edwin was quiet that morning but they were having marriage problems so she didn't want to cause an argument by asking him too many questions. By that evening, he seemed back to his normal self and they went to watch a movie together. 

It was only the next morning, the Monday morning, that she found out the dreadful truth. He told her that he killed a woman but claimed it was an accident. Edwin said that he struck the woman with his car and as she was dead, he hid her body. Edwin told her he had to leave and said that the woman's belongings were in their shed in the garden. He left the house with Isabel's 9mm handgun and drove off in his Nissan Altima. That was when Isabel went to the police to report what she had been told. 

The Shed

Police knew they needed to find Edwin urgently, to verify the story and prevent him from harming anyone else. Police searched his home and shed and found a white bag with high heel shoes, a purse containing a black wallet,passport, credit card, a blood stained rock and a clump of hair. The shoes and purse beloved to Kaylee. Police found Edwin's work boots. There was blood on them. There was also a class project found that Edwin had kept on serial killer Angel Resendez Ramirez.

School Project

After Edwin left his home that morning, he drove to his parent's house in Redmond and swapped cars. He left his own one there and took their Subaru Legacy station wagon. Police found the Nissan Altima later that day. There was a large amount of dried blood in the trunk and on the rear bumper, and hair on the rear bumper.

Edwin drove to Salem and parked his car outside of a Ross Dress for Less store. It was there that he saw nineteen year old Aundreah Elizabeth Maes. Aundreah was sitting in her car, a gold Volvo, in the car park alone and uploading a picture of herself to her social media account when Edwin got into the car beside her, on the passenger door side. With his gun pointed directly at her, he shouted at her and told her to drive. 

Edwin made Aundreah drive to California. It broke down in Yreka, California. They went to a Motel and Edwin saw a man there. The man, Jack Levy, was beside his car. Edwin pulled a gun on him in an attempt to steal his car. Jack called for help and Edwin shot him in the abdomen. He left with Aundreah.

CCTV from the Motel

Edwin stole a car with a woman and her two teen grandsons inside. The father of the boys was still in the gas station store. He drove with Aundreah, the woman and her two grandsons 15 miles south on Interstate 5.

Edwin told the occupants of the car that he wanted to tell them a story. They pleaded with him not to but he did anyway. He told them he killed a girl in Bend as he had an "urge to kill" and that he shot a man in Yreka. He then dropped the woman and her two grandsons on the side of the road. He sped down the highway with Aundreah still in the car. Edwin asked her to open the camera on her phone and record a video of him. He wanted her to post it to Facebook and caption it “Murderer on the loose and kidnapped.”

A Still from the Facebook Video

It was a short video. Edwin spoke about his crimes, he apologized and asked the police not to shoot them. He called 911 on the 26th of July, around 6.40am. At that time, he was driving down the highway near Redding, California. He told the operator who he was, that he was wanted for murder, and explained that he had a gun and was wearing a bullet proof vest.

Police caught up with him, pulled him over and arrested him. At the police station, Edwin confessed to Kaylee's murder, kidnapping and carjacking Aundreah, shooting the man in California and carjacking the family at the gas station.After the confession, police found Kaylee's body on the side of the road in the area of 18700 West Highway 126.

 

An Autopsy was carried out and it revealed that the cause of death was blunt force trauma, with evidence of strangulation, multiple skull fractures and other signs of injury prior to her death.

In his confession, Edwin said:

 “So I think all throughout my life I have struggled with somehow the urge to kill but what has helped me not develop that in a sense is when I married my wife."

It was clear that Edwin thought about murder for quite some time. In the school project that police found in Edwin's house about Angel Resendez Ramirez, Edwin had noted that Ramirez:

 “always killed with a blunt force trauma; he used weapons of opportunity that were found at the scene.”

Kaylee was murdered in that very exact manner. He used a rock to kill her. The night Kaylee was murdered, Edwin was at work. He was working that night as a security officer for the college when he saw Kaylee walking alone. His campus security vehicle had an enclosed rear cage which meant that there was no way that Kaylee could escape.

Edwin Lara

He attacked and murdered Kaylee and used a rock to strike her with. He then put her body in the trunk of his car before disposing of it. After Kaylee's murde, the Oregon Senate unanimously passed SB 576, also known as Kaylee's Law. The bill was carried by Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) and is focused on an overall security reform. It helps better define police forces and campus security forces.

Kaylee

Edwin was accused of sexual assault too but it was hard to prove after his initial confession was thrown out. He refused to plead guilty to sexual assault as part of a plea deal. The Prosecutor in the case said the main goal was to get a life sentence so they decided not pursue a sexual assault conviction in order to avoid a less harsh sentence. They wanted him to take the plea deal:life sentence for Kaylee's murder. Edwin was sentenced to two life sentences without the possibility of parole for the murder, kidnapping and carjacking. Fortunately Jack, the man he shot at the Motel, survived.

Kaylee's mother, Juli Walden VanCleave, told Edwin at the sentencing hearing:

 “You have failed to silence her. I’ll always be the mother of a murder victim, but your mother will always be the mother of a murderer and a rapist.”

Juli told the Court that Edwin had tried to silence her daughter. She knew this because he left a note in his car apologizing to Kaylee’s father and mother and stating he had only wanted to silence her but not forever.

Juli told him that he failed. Her death had united the community and there is now a foundation and a scholarship in her honor.

Aundreah Elizabeth Maesalso addressed him at the hearing:

“You thought you stole my life from me, but I’m not a victim. I’m a survivor … I’m a warrior. I’m stronger than I’ve ever been, and you’re going to rot where you belong.”

 



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