The body of 69-year-old Sandra Harris, the Washington State woman who was kidnapped on November 18, was found in rural Kennewick on Sunday morning. Sandra Harris had been missing for roughly 48 hours when her remains were discovered; over the course of her disappearance, the Washington woman had been held for ransom. That ransom was ultimately paid by law enforcement in an attempt to bring Harris home alive.
As Q Fox 13 reports, Kennewick police believe that Washington woman Sandra Harris was kidnapped by someone she was acquainted with on Friday. Soon after the abduction, Sergeant Ken Lattin told the media that Harris’ own cell phone was used by her kidnapper to call the Washington woman’s husband and make the ransom demand. It was then that the abduction and ransom demand was reported to law enforcement.
The amount of the ransom has not been made public.
For hours, investigators and Sandra Harris’ kidnapper negotiated the terms of the ransom and Harris’ release; the ransom was eventually paid, but the Washington woman was never released.
An arrest was made in connection to the abduction of Washington woman Sandra Harris late Friday. That’s when the SWAT team reportedly picked up Theresa Wiltse, a 49-year-old female that police are still holding on suspicion of kidnapping Harris. Despite the arrest and 24 hours of intensive, exhaustive searching for the Washington woman, Sandra Harris was not found by investigators.
As The Tri-City Herald reports, it was a random motorist that finally found the remains of Washington woman Sandra Harris on Sunday morning. Her body was reportedly found just south of Kennewick near rural Coffin Road near I-82 in Benton County.
It has reportedly been confirmed that the remains found on Sunday do, in fact, belong to Sandra Harris. An autopsy has been scheduled for Tuesday. Police are not, at this time, commenting on the possible cause of the Washington woman’s death.
The discovery marked a tragic end to the dramatic abduction and ransom, a set of crimes that law enforcement are calling “not random” in an attempt to placate a nervous public. According to a press release, investigators still aren’t sure what the motive behind the kidnapping and murder could have been.
“Investigators have much work to do yet and the details that explain ‘why’ this happened will come forth in court proceedings.”
Police have also assured the public that the suspect in the case of abducted Washington woman Sandra Harris was known to both the murder victim and her husband, and that she appears to have been deliberately targeted by her killer.
“It is important to remind the public that this was not a random act.The suspect we have in custody, Theresa Wiltse, was known to Sandra Harris and her husband Randy Harris. The exact nature of how they are known to each other is still a part of this investigation.”
Or killers. Police are not ruling anything out at this stage of the investigation, and they believe that it is at least a possibility that suspected kidnapper Theresa Wiltse may not have been working alone. However, if suspected kidnapper Wiltse did have an accomplice, investigators don’t have any clue who that person may be.
“We’re trying not to eliminate any possibilities. We are not ruling out the possibility that there could be another person or persons involved but we do not have any specific persons that we are looking for.”
At this point, Theresa Wiltse is being held at the Benton County Jail without bond. She has not been charged with the kidnapping or murder of Sandra Harris, but rather is being held on charges related to suspicion of kidnapping. Officials have until Wednesday afternoon to officially charge Wiltse in relation to the abduction and/or murder of Washington woman Sandra Harris.
It is possible that they are waiting for preliminary results for Tuesday’s autopsy before filing official charges in the case.
***Update: More details in the case of Washington woman Sandra Harris were made available late Monday afternoon, ABC News reports. Reportedly, a police report indicates that the ransom amount paid in the case was $250,000, and suspect Theresa Wiltse reportedly admitted to investigators that she had a role in the kidnapping of Sandra Harris.
According to law enforcement, Wiltse is a resident of Connell, Washington, and a former Walla Walla state prison guard.
She reportedly told law enforcement that she was “a part” of the kidnapping, along with two alleged accomplices she has named as only “Jesus” and “Jose.”
Police are also reporting that Sandra Harris was shot and that blood was found in the backseat of suspect Wiltse’s rental car. Police are still investigating when and how Washington woman Sandra Harris died.***]
[Featured Image by Kennewick Police Department]