Ex-Oregon College Safety Officer Gets Life for Killing Woman During Shift
Edwin Lara, a former safety officer at Central Oregon Community College, pleaded guilty to kidnapping and murdering a 23-year-old woman during his shift.
A former safety officer at an Oregon community college has been sentenced to life in prison after he pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and robbery in the kidnapping and killing of a woman during his work shift in 2016.
Edwin Lara, who was a safety officer at Central Oregon Community College in Bend, accepted a plea deal on Monday that spared him a possible death sentence but will keep him in prison for life without the possibility of parole, reports The Seattle Times.
Authorities say Lara kidnapped, sexually assaulted and killed 23-year-old Kaylee Sawyer on July 24, 2016. He admitted to holding Sawyer in the back of his security vehicle where he strangled and then killed her with an almost 50-pound rock.
According to prosecutors, an autopsy shows Sawyer’s cause of death was blunt force trauma and that she fought back.
“This case stands out for many reasons. I cannot recall a case in Bend that has shocked the community like this case has,” Judge A. Michael Adler said during the sentencing. “The incredible brutality of this murder sets it apart.”
Last October, Adler threw out Lara’s apparent confession after he claimed he was not allowed to call a lawyer.
“The defendant, by his own admission, abducted, strangled, raped, sodomized and then bludgeoned to death my granddaughter, Kaylee Ann Sawyer,” Sawyer’s grandfather said during the sentencing. “His life should be erased, erased just like the last breath of life he took from Kaylee.”
Sawyer and her boyfriend lived on the outskirts of the college campus and she had gone for a walk shortly after midnight on July 24. Lara was working the night shift at the school.
Isabel Ponce-Lara, Lara’s wife, had recently become a Bend police officer and told investigators she noticed her husband was “acting out of the ordinary”. When she confronted him, he said he accidentally hit Sawyer with his work vehicle, panicked and hid her body.
Sawyer’s body was discovered in a canyon west of Redmond, according to the Register Guard.
Police say after killing Sawyer, Lara drove 130 miles to Salem and kidnapped a 19-year-old woman as she was leaving her job at a clothing store. He took her to Yreka, California, where he allegedly shot and wounded a man at a motel.
Lara then allegedly carjacked a woman and her two sons at a gas station and released them along Interstate 5. He was later apprehended after being pulled over by the California Highway Patrol.
If you appreciated this article and want to receive more valuable industry content like this, click here to sign up for our FREE digital newsletters!
Leading in Turbulent Times: Effective Campus Public Safety Leadership for the 21st Century
This new webcast will discuss how campus public safety leaders can effectively incorporate Clery Act, Title IX, customer service, “helicopter” parents, emergency notification, town-gown relationships, brand management, Greek Life, student recruitment, faculty, and more into their roles and develop the necessary skills to successfully lead their departments. Register today to attend this free webcast!