- Associated Press - Thursday, July 28, 2016

BEND, Ore. (AP) - A body found off a rural highway has been identified as that of a young woman who went missing early Sunday, police said Thursday.

An autopsy revealed 23-year-old Kaylee Sawyer died of blunt force trauma, but no more information about how she was killed will be immediately released “based on legal restrictions with this investigation,” the Bend Police Department said in a statement.

Edwin Lara, 31, a security guard at Central Oregon Community College in Bend, was charged Tuesday and is jailed in Northern California after he was arrested there the same day as a suspect in a shooting and carjacking in the town of Yreka.

Sawyer disappeared early Sunday during a walk alone in the middle of the night in Bend after arguing her boyfriend. Her body was found Tuesday off Highway 126 at the bottom of a small canyon between the Central Oregon towns of Redmond and Sisters, police said.

Lara’s wife, Isabel Ponce-Lara, on Monday went to police in their hometown of Redmond, Oregon, to report that Lara had told her he hit Sawyer with his patrol vehicle, killing her, then panicked and hid her body, according to documents filed in court.



Lara tearfully told her the story and then drove off, said Ponce-Lara, a new Bend police officer who was worried that he was suicidal.

Police searching the couple’s home found Sawyer’s blood-soaked purse and bloody women’s and men’s clothing in a shed, according to 62 pages of affidavits filed with the Deschutes County Circuit Court in Bend.

Court documents said evidence showed Lara had committed crimes of vehicular homicide, assault and hit-and-run.

Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel has said he did not believe Lara accidentally ran over Sawyer, adding that he could not say what evidence led his office to charge Lara with murder instead of vehicular homicide.

Lara’s court-appointed attorney, Benjamin Kim, declined to comment about his client and the case.

He cited an order from Deschutes County Circuit Court Judge Alta Brady prohibiting prosecutors, defense attorneys and police from speaking publicly about it.

Brady’s office did not immediately return a telephone message left by The Associated Press seeking comment about the gag order.

Lara is charged in the Yreka case with attempted murder and kidnapping.

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This story corrects that the suspect has reportedly said he hit her with a vehicle and that authorities have not said that.

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