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Kaylee Sawyer's body found in canyon west of Redmond

Cause of death blunt force trauma; GoFundMe page established for family
Credit: Juli Van Cleave
Kaylee Sawyer (Courtesy Juli Van Cleave)

BEND, Ore. — Editor's Note: This story was originally published on KTVZ.com on July 28, 2016 and is being resurfaced as KGW launches a new podcast about Kaylee Sawyer's murder called "Urge To Kill." 

Authorities confirmed Thursday that the body of missing Bend woman Kaylee Sawyer was found earlier this week in a canyon off Highway 126 about 10 miles west of Redmond and said an autopsy had determined she died of "blunt force trauma." 

As the Central Oregon Major Incident Team spent Tuesday following up leads, they developed information regarding a possible location for the body of Sawyer, 23, who disappeared early Sunday near parking lot of her apartment complex, close to Central Oregon Community College.

RELATED: KGW podcast debuts never before heard interviews in Kaylee Sawyer case
Just before 2 p.m. Tuesday, investigators found a body off Highway 126, in a canyon near milepost 100, said Bend Police Lt. Clint Burleigh. Lt. Brian Kindel said the body was found 20 feet or less off the south side of the highway, at the bottom of a small canyon before the road curves around a large rock cliff on the way to Sisters.

The remains were removed and taken to the Oregon State Medical Examiner's Office, where an autopsy was conducted Wednesday, Burleigh said.

The autopsy confirmed the body was that of Sawyer. "The cause of death was identified as blunt force trauma," Burleigh wrote.

Due to legal restrictions imposed by a presiding judge in the investigation, Burleigh said they can release no more information at this time, and referred questions to Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel's office.

Meanwhile, a GoFundMe page has been established by a family representative for funds to cover costs incurred in the search for Sawyer and the family's recovery.

Hummel said Thursday that Edwin Enoc Lara, 31, of Redmond, the part-time COCC campus public safety officer accused of murder, will be returned to Deschutes County before charges arising from a Northern California crime spree are resolved.

Hummel told NewsChannel 21 he had spoken with his counterpart in Siskiyou County, Calif. about the case of Lara, who faces one count of murder in Deschutes County in the killing of Sawyer.

The DA said he will file paperwork with Gov. Kate Brown to request extradition, and her office will send it to the office of California Gov. Jerry Brown, a process that will take a few days or more, paving the way for his return to Bend.

Lara, who was transferred late Wednesday from the Tehama County Jail to the Siskiyou County Jail, is scheduled to make his first court appearance in Siskiyou County Superior Court on Friday at 3 p.m.

In California, Lara faces five felony charges, including attempted murder, in a violent Tuesday morning crime spree.

According to prosecutors, if Lara waives extradition, he could be back in Deschutes County sometime in August.

According to police, Lara shot a man in the abdomen at a Super 8 motel in Yreka early Tuesday, then carjacked a family at a gas station.

A Deschutes County grand jury could formally charge Lara with one count of murder next week.

Lara took police on a high-speed chase down Interstate 5 across three California counties with a Salem woman he allegedly abducted, along with stealing her car.

Police said Lara was wearing a bulletproof vest and had a loaded gun when he was arrested in a stolen car, and was with a 19-year-old woman he kidnapped in Salem.

"We're feeling good about where we are in the investigation," Hummel said.

Investigators from the Bend Police Department drove to Northern California Wednesday as part of the homicide investigation.

Court documents indicate Lara told his wife that he hit Sawyer when she walked out in front of his COCC patrol car, and that he then panicked and disposed of the body.

Hummel told KGW reporter Pat Dooris that while he can't discuss the case's details, due to a judge's order, the murder charge was filed because prosecutors believe they have the evidence to prove the killing was intentional.

"I charged Mr. Lara with murder because I believe the evidence supports the charge of murder," Hummel said. "We've alleged in our information that he intentionally killed Kaylee, and that's what the evidence shows."


Urge to Kill is a KGW podcast following the rape and murder of Kaylee Sawyer. After celebrating a bachelorette party in downtown Bend, Oregon in July of 2016, Kaylee disappeared in the middle of the night. The horrific details of her brutal rape and killing shook the residents of the quiet town in the Pacific Northwest. Her murderer would go on to terrorize several other families in a multi-state crime spree. He said he had the “urge to kill.” Our team sat down with all of his victims who were lucky to get out alive. 

Urge To Kill launches Nov. 5. 

A man with an "urge to kill" took the life of a beloved Oregon woman in the middle of the night. We'll follow investigators as they uncover the wild twists and turns of this case, including the killer's multi-state crime spree in which he terrorized everyo...

Contact the Urge to Kill team at urgetokill@kgw.com. Join our Facebook group and follow us on Instagram.