Sarah McLinn was reported missing by her family on January 17. When authorities responded to her residence, they found her roommate and employer, 52-year-old Harold Sasko, dead. Police said the restaurant owner was killed with a sharp object, which was found at the scene.
Although the teen’s family was concerned about her welfare, authorities soon identified her as a person of interest in Sasko’s death. Evidence at the scene suggests McLinn planned and carried out Sasko’s murder before fleeing the home.
Harold Sasko owned three Cici’s pizza franchises throughout the Topeka, Kansas, area. McLinn worked as a bookkeeper and a cashier at one of the locations. In 2012, the restaurant owner offered to let his employee stay at his home. McLinn was reportedly troubled and trying to change her life.
Sasko’s former girlfriend, Kimberly Qualls, said her ex boyfriend was kindhearted and thoughtful. As reported by People, he took the teen under his wing in an attempt to keep her off the streets and away from negative influences. Although Qualls was not comfortable with Sasko’s decision, he insisted he could help the teen:
“I told him: ‘Be sure you know what you’re getting into’… He liked to help people… He had said that, rather than die rich, he’d prefer to die broke knowing he helped a lot of people.”
Lawrence Police Chief Tarik Khatib said evidence recovered from the scene, including the suspected murder weapon, suggests the teen acted alone. Although they are unsure what motivated the fatal attack, authorities said the case is still under investigation.
On January 26, Sarah McLinn was located in the Florida Everglades with Sasko’s vehicle. Authorities said the teen was charged with first-degree murder and is currently being held in a Florida detention center. She is currently awaiting extradition back to Kansas for her initial hearing.
McLinn’s mother, Michelle Gonzales, refuses to believe her daughter acted alone. Gonzalez said Sasko and her daughter were close and the teen had no reason to harm her roommate. She believes her daughter was also a victim in the brutal crime.
As reported by Huffington Post, authorities said Sasko was sedated before he was cut or stabbed with “an edged instrument.” The charge of first-degree murder hinges on the sedation, which suggests premeditation.
Although authorities have not disclosed details about Sasko’s wounds, McLinn’s mother said her daughter “could not have acted alone based on the traumatic injuries.”
Sarah McLinn has the option if waiving extradition back to Kansas. However, if she refuses, the extradition process could take months.