There’s an elephant in the room but nobody seems to be able to see it…
That in regard to pending murder charges against 19 year-old Sarah Gonzales McLinn in the brutal slaying of her former boss and live-in roommate, 52 year-0ld Lawrence businessman Harold Sasko.
It’s like this.
Four weeks after Sasko – the owner of three area CiCi’s Pizzas – was found murdered in his home by Lawrence Police, no one has come forward publicly with a theory as to what McLinn’s alleged motive for killing him was. Her lawyer went as far as to tell reporters recently that, “The case would center on her motive, not on whether or not she committed the crime.”
Meaning what – that McLinn did it – but had a good reason for killing Sasko?
The $64 million question: why has no one has so much as raised the obvious question as to whether Sasko and McLinn were romantically involved?
Oh they’ve asked all right, says McLinn’s lawyer Carl Cornwell, who declined to answer the question, identify who asked or say if another party was involved.
But now that the question is finally being raised publicly here for the first time, let’s take a look at some of the details that appear to support that there may have been a romantic relationship between the troubled teen and the hardscrabble, quinquagenarian pizza maker.
“He took the girl in and was supposed to be getting her back on track, but I heard he was having an affair with her from a manager at CiCi’s Pizza here,” says a Lawrence business owner who asked not to be named. “The manager told me that they were having a big time affair…that it was a pretty torrid affair and (Sasko) had kicked her out five or six times and she had worked at CiCi’s and she’d been fired there a number of times.”
Alfredo Castillo, the manager of the Lawrence CiCi’s declined to answer questions about whether there was a romantic connection between his former boss and McLinn.
Staffers at Bed, Bath & Beyond in Lawrence – where McLinn worked at the time of Sasko’s murder – describe her as quiet, with fashion model good looks and having told co-workers that the thrice married Sasko was only her stepfather.
“That was kind of a discussion they had when I was dating him,” says Kimberly Qualls, Sasko’s girlfriend in 2012 when McLinn first moved in with him. “I think (it was) just to help with the age difference thing, because people would think that an older guy was going for a younger girl.”
Qualls says she never suspecedt anything romantic between the two when she and Sasko broke up later that year after eight months of dating.
“He did that with other attractive young women too,” Qualls says of Sasko’s penchant for helping struggling teens. “He would go to their graduations, their birthdays – he was a friend – and there was no – trust me, I would have seen it if there was anything going on.”
Yet while Sasko helped a number of other young “kids” – male and female, including Qualls 19 year-old son – it was McLinn’s looks and the age difference that raised eyebrows.
“That’s probably where everybody’s going to go first,” Qualls says. “You know, human nature.”
Everybody except the sleepy Lawrence, Topeka and Kansas City news media.
Two important distinctions differentiate the type of help Sasko rendered McLinn than the other troubled, attractive teenage girls, Qualls says.
“Nobody else lived with him,” she says.
So while Qualls didn’t pick up on a romantic vibe during her time dating Sasko after McLinn moved in, “What happened later on I’m not familiar with,” Qualls says. “She was cute.”
“When all this took place, it just never felt good,” Qualls says. “In my gut it just felt like it wasn’t a good arrangement.”
Qualls was able to corroborate other details provided by sources, including what a physical therapist told another Lawrence business owner.
“One of my clients is a trainer for the guy and says he was a creep,” a source who also asked not to be named says of Sasko. “And that he had a tattoo of a girl on his chest and he said it was his daughter. He said he was estranged from his daughter.”
Qualls understanding is Sasko that had shoulder surgery late last year and his arm had been in a sling, which likely may have required physical therapy.
She also confirms the trainer’s description of Sasko’s chest tattoo and that in fact it was of his daughter.
So there you have it.
Does two plus two make four as some have speculated, but prosecutors, police and the news media so studiously shied away from?
“I’m not going to speculate on what people say,” Qualls says, “because I work only on facts.”