LAWRENCE, Kan. – A 19-year-old woman charged in the brutal murder of a Topeka/Lawrence businessman says she did it because she “wanted to know what it felt like”. A preliminary hearing for 19-year-old Sarah Gonzales McLinn began Friday morning in a Douglas County court. McLinn is charged with first-degree murder for allegedly killing 52-year-old Lawrence businessman Harold Sasko and stealing his car on January 14. The two lived together in a Lawrence home on 26th Street, and McLinn had worked for Sasko at one of his three Cici’s Pizza Restaurants.
The prosecution consisting of District Attorney Charles Branson and an assistant district attorney called four witnesses to testify including: the first police officer on the scene, two detectives, and the medical examiner who performed the autopsy.
Lawrence police began investigating the case around 11:00 p.m. on January 17. According to testimony, Sasko’s body was found on the living room floor, with his wrists and ankles bound with zip ties. Investigators found the word “freedom” written in blood on the wall above Sasko’s head. A detective who interviewed McLinn when she was found in Florida on January 26 said McLinn wanted freedom from her life. She owed Sasko some rent money, and alleges that Sasko would get drunk and make sexual advances at her.
Sasko was killed in a violent manner. According to testimony, McLinn drugged him with several sleeping pills by putting them in his beer. Once Sasko was unconscious and fell to the ground, she cut his throat down to the bone with a large hunting knife. Afterword, when she realized what she had done, she to fled to Texas and then Florida in Sasko’s car to see the ocean before she was captured by law enforcement.
After knowing how Sasko was killed, McLinn was question by detectives about why. The answer was simple: she wanted to know what it felt like. McLinn told police that she had had violent thoughts for years and had even practiced killing rabbits about a year prior to Sasko’s death. Rabbits were purchased at a store in Lawrence, killed, skinned, and eaten by McLinn in the house that she and Sasko shared. According to testimony, McLinn became obsessed with her violent thoughts and fixated on killing Sasko five days prior to his murder.
McLinn was bound over for trial. District Judge Paula Martin set a trial date of August 4. On Friday morning, McLinn’s attorney filed notice of intent to rely on mental disease or defect in the case.