Body believed to be missing Bend woman found; murder suspect arr - KPTV - FOX 12

Body believed to be missing Bend woman found; murder suspect arrested in California

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Kaylee Sawyer, family photo Kaylee Sawyer, family photo
Murder suspect Edwin Lara (Courtesy: Bend Police Department) Murder suspect Edwin Lara (Courtesy: Bend Police Department)
BEND, OR (KPTV) -

A murder suspect's wife, who was recently hired as a Bend Police Department officer, provided information that helped lead to her husband's arrest in California.

Edwin Lara, 31, of Redmond, is facing murder charges in Deschutes County in connection with the suspected death of 23-year-old Kaylee Sawyer.

Sawyer was reported missing Sunday. Her family said she was last seen early that morning in the parking lot of her west Bend apartment complex near Central Oregon Community College.  

Lara worked as a part-time security guard at the college.

On Tuesday, Bend Police Chief Jim Porter said officers had located a woman's body believed to be Sawyer. He did not reveal a possible cause of death or the exact location where the body was found, saying only that the woman's body was located in Deschutes County and matched the age and description of Sawyer.

Porter said the medical examiner will make the official identification of the body.

Lara was arrested in northern California early Tuesday morning following a high-speed chase on Interstate 5, according to the Associated Press.

The AP report states Lara was arrested after shooting and critically wounding an elderly man in Yreka, California and then kidnapping and carjacking a mother and her two sons at gunpoint.

California Highway Patrol finally stopped the car near Redding.

Bend police received a tip about Lara's possible involvement in the disappearance of Sawyer from his wife, Isabel Ponce-Lara.

Ponce-Lara is currently field training as an officer with the Bend Police Department. Investigators said she is not suspected of being involved in her husband's crimes and reported information to police when she learned it.

According to a court affidavit, Lara told his wife that while he was at work, driving a COCC Campus Security Vehicle, Sawyer walked out in front of him, in the dark. After Lara ran Sawyer over he said he panicked and disposed of the body but did not tell his wife where he placed the body, according to the court affidavit.

Lara also told his wife that some of Sawyers belongings were inside the shed at their home, according to the court affidavit. Ponce-Lara went out to the shed and looked inside where she found a bag containing a purse and some shoes.

Porter said Ponce-Lara provided the first details to police about her husband and this case. Porter said Ponce-Lara will be on leave from the department as a courtesy to her, and not because of any policy violation.

Sawyer's family released a statement Tuesday thanking law enforcement for their work on the case.

"Our community is grieving the loss of a beautiful soul. Kaylee's family and friends want to share how much we loved Kaylee and miss her already. We are appreciative of our community and the support we have received throughout this investigation and we ask that you keep us in your prayers," the family said in a statement.

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