Hearne: Did 19 Year-Old Sarah McLinn Murder CiCi’s Pizza Owner Harold Sasko Over Sex?

Sarah McLinn

Sarah McLinn

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.

mclinn-in-court“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.”


Harold Sasko & former girlfriend Kimberly Qualls

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.”

There’s more.

“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.”

Stay tuned.

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60 Responses to Hearne: Did 19 Year-Old Sarah McLinn Murder CiCi’s Pizza Owner Harold Sasko Over Sex?

  1. the dude says:

    Smells like sex to me but what do I know?

    • hot harley says:

      hearne hits a home run…see I told you to write a story about the
      murders in Lawrence…and 2 days later …here it is!!!!!
      congrats hearne…this is what you’re best at….great story..
      intriguing….lots of comments….and something that
      people love to read.
      This is the old hearne we all used to look forward to.
      now lets get the skinny on another old guy who’s involvedwith
      a young hottie iin kc….email me at law4life@yahoo.com about
      another hot story in larrytown.
      For a small quitet town it sure is getting crazy up there!!!!!!!!
      great article..hope to see more..
      your vriend

    • hot harley says:

      TO ADMIN:
      you must either be on Xanax or be a very calm/peaceful/low key
      individual to put up with me and all these crazy commentators on
      You actually deserve a medal for being so easy going when you have
      to deal with some of the comments and even mine.
      good luck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. @Barrr says:

    I’d say this theory was thoroughly gone over via twitter, amongst Lawrence folks as the story broke. Considering it’s purely conjecture, not surprised that the media didn’t pick it up & run with it. We’ll find out along with everyone else during the trial. But there’s a resounding duhhhh resonating out here in the twitterverse. Try not to pat yourself too hard on the back for breaking the most obvious gossip going around here. Ha!

    • admin says:

      Allow me to explain, anonymous comments and tweets do not constitute actual reporting.

      You sound like somebody who got scooped brother Barr. And since I see you have a Lawrence IP address, I’m thinking – what – frustrated Journal World reporter?

      • Paul says:

        Perhaps a topic for another time, Hearne. I agree about the anonymous comments, but Twitter is reporting at its rawest level. Perhaps time to reconsider what constitutes “actual reporting.” Granted a lot of chaff mixed in with the wheat, but too many stories are being broken via Twitter to downplay its place.

        • admin says:

          Twitter can definitely be a source of information, but even making an allowance for it being “raw,” it hardly constitutes or substitutes for actual news reporting. Beating the streets, placing calls, gathering information and attempting to verify and build on it.

          It’s more akin, I would say, to being a new source. Traditional news sources provide information to say a reporter, who then follows up on that information or tip, verifies the information if possible and pursues that and leads from other sources to try and put a story or report together.

          For example, by following up on what the personal trainer and Bed Bath & Beyond staffers said, I was able to confirm with Qualls that McLinn and Sasko had in fact hatched a story about him being her stepfather, that he had a tattoo on his chest of a young girl who was in fact his daughter and that he had injured his shoulder, accounting for the therapist who called him a “creep.”

          I also was able to unearth from Qualls that while Sasko had helped other teens, McLinn alone had been invited to live with him.

          Then I took ALL of the information I was told and ran it past McLinn’s lawyer, the nervous and uncomfortable manager of CiCi’s in Lawrence and Sasko’s ex. And I gave them all the opportunity – both on and off the record – to confirm or deny any and all of the details I presented to them.

          I also placed a call to McLinn’s sister, who asked the lawyer to call me.

          That’s reporting.

          Tweeting out unsubstantiated details in 140 character bursts can be entertaining and informative, but it will seldom to never pass for actual news. IMHO

      • admin says:

        Ah, I was wrong in suspecting that Barr might be a journalist.

        Turns out he’s a Lawrence hippie, barfly, artist, gossip, journalist wannabe.

        I stand corrected!

      • c says:

        Even if you “confirmed” certain details, anything in the way of a sexual relationship is purely conjecture and seems petty defamatory to a guy who’s dead and cannot defend himself… The details will come out — but gossippy people can’t help themselves… Do some real reporting and talk about something that matters, like the TPP trade partnership being pushed through in secret (remember how uproarious the NAFTA debate got? Have you even heard of this?) that will allow corporate tribunals to decide things in the name of profit if corporations file a lawsuit and undermining the sovereignty of countries which sign on (including the US), among other things like shipping jobs overseas– Oh and they’ll be negotiating (corporate lawyers for corporate interests) another one including the EU, the TTIP (Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership)… quit wasting peoples time with petty gossip, which regardless of what you believe, remains conjecture…

        • admin says:

          Another Lawrence reader,,,

          Seriously…you want me to write about The Trans-Pacific Partnership? A trade proposal between the US and countries like Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

          No offense but wrong number, dude. Talk to Dwight, Whinery or Paul Wilson.

  3. CG says:

    Yep looks like the girl was a hottie to me. Surely he helped her for the obvious. Maybe she was just a headache he kept kicking her out and she needed his money and overall support. Maybe it was being cut off so she went off and killed the guy in his sleep. Seems likely. She will have the usual “he forced me to do all kinds of bad things” story. Seems she could have left anytime. Sounds like lst degree murder, but she will likely do the insanity thing and get it cut back. Who knows, need lots more details. Doesn’t sound like self defense huh. Good story Hearne.

    • mike says:

      With some of the crazy young girls you have been involved with, you might want to start sleeping with one eye open! LOL!

    • hot harley says:

      even glaze has a motive for all this stuff….
      CSI….homicide detectives….this is a made for tv movie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. chuck says:

    According to a press release from both the Lawrence Police Department and the Douglas County District Attorney, which was given out following the news conference, evidence suggested McLinn gained control over Sasko and then killed him. On Sunday, the District Attorney’s office requested and served a warrant for McLinn for intentional premeditated first-degree murder.

    Police said based on evidence, they believe Sasko was unconscious and subdued at the time he was killed. They also stated the cause of death was a violent act involving an “edged” object, and said they believe they have the murder weapon in their possession but wouldn’t specify what the object was.”


    She is out in some pretty deep water.

    19 year old kids are in drastic need of parental or adult supervision, precisely because they are new to their majority. Wet by every rain, blown by every wind, this little girl should probably get the benefit of at least SOME doubt if she was sexually svenfalied by Mr. Sasko. At this point, a charge of premeditation would only be appropriate, in my opinion, if it was a robbery, not a woman scorned, or, as Glaze mentions, “kicked out”.

    Successful captians of industry in their 50’s have sure as hell had to make tougher sales than closing the deal on sexual congress with a 19 year old girl on the down side of circumstance.

    • admin says:

      I thought the statement by McLinn’s lawyer in regard to the prosecution going for a hard 50 sentence that the outcome would center on her motive not IF she killed him was telling.

      He was quoted as saying that she had mental issues so…

  5. chuck says:

    Oops, “Svengalied”.

  6. Bob Loblaw says:

    I would’ve hit it.

  7. Libertarian says:

    She will CLAIM he made unwanted sexual advances towards her.

    We’ll see.

    • admin says:

      Remember Libertarian, the CiCi’s manager told my Lawrence merchant source the staff believed it to be a “torrid” love affair with plenty of fireworks – McLinn getting kicked out of Sasko’s house, from her job at CiCi’s.

      If true that makes it sound like the stage was set for something to happen.

      Perhaps this story will loosen things up a bit in the media and we’ll learn more prior to the trial.

      If this were a truly national news story there would have been a ton more reporting right off and we wouldn’t be sitting around four weeks later wondering and some clown talking about somebody tweeting.

      This has been a front page story in Lawrence with almost zero reporting outside of what police wanted released and a handful of predictable testimonials as to what a great guy Sasko was.

      It didn’t take me one day to track down credible sources and stitch together enough detail to fairly raise the question of whether the motive may have been a sexual relationship.

      Didn’t even have to rely on anonymous comments and 140 character tweets.

      • Libertarian says:

        So you agree-she will make that claim?

        • admin says:

          Don’t know if you’re asking me, Lib but…

          If I had to guess at this point, it sounds like her attorney is going for a mental health defense. Just reading his words and coupling that with that the police say McLinn acted alone.



    • admin says:

      The very one,

      That’s funny Brandon, you know her?

      She wasn’t trying to attract the media attention but after she wrote a tribute to Sasko on her Facebook page the media came a calling…including People Magazine.

  9. Jim says:

    50+ year old dude and a 19 year old girl living together? Can we stop speculating IF they were having an affair? Weird, creepy, whacked, etc, etc…

    • admin says:

      Well, most of the media and Sasko’s supporters have fallen back on the fact that he helped all these other young people – including Qualls 19 year-old son, which is how she met and began dating Sasko – however…

      As Qualls said, McLinn was the only one he let move in with him.

      In any case, there are two schools of thought on the matter.

    • Rich says:

      It’s only creepy when it’s the other guy doing it. Give most single 50 year men an opportunity to poke the girl in that photo and I’d venture to guess they would.

      • Jim says:

        52 year old guys banging 19 year old girls have issues. Whether gorgeous or a double-bagger, she’s 19. Legal? Sure. Messed up? For sure.

  10. paulwilsonkc says:

    I’d check with Harley; he was CiCi’s frat brother in college before she opened the franchise. When Harley was mentoring her, she told him she had no idea what she was going to do when she graduated. He checked Numbers Nick and Bud Selig, among others, then asked her, “…ever consider PIZZA, I think that’s going to be HOT!”
    So impressed was she, the franchise was originally called “Harley’s” but that motorcycle company sent a cease and desist, so she changed the name to CiCi’s.
    She could crack the HR records; I’d vote “creepy” with little additional evidence.

    • hot harley says:

      you should be writing stuff for pauly shore or jj walker….
      numbers nick…very appropoe right now for me…
      and bud…haven’t seen him since we got mlb license…and the divorce…
      but still rolling along.
      thanks for the laughs….hope everyone is doing fine…hope to read some
      more ‘WILSON” exclusives and when you get by come in for a beer..
      or a kalua and crème for this time of year.
      No I had nothing to do with that pizza place but knew greg Johnson
      down at minskys when he was getting rolling…good dude…and
      excellent pizza…
      although my friends at d Bronx make the best pizza now it town. right up
      there with steve and tony at villa capri on metalf.their supreme is
      excellent with their meatballs.

      Robert I think sold out and new owners have done a great job.
      cici s is kind of a budget pizza place like pizza street….
      more into the handmade as needed style.
      keep the faith…you’re doing a good job!!!!!!

  11. augustin shmerlows says:

    Breaking news: global warming is being substantiated by the throwing of ice cubes at the sun perpetrated by autistic children!

    who is this silly charlatan writer? and why does this pretentious sandbox gossip story read like it was written on an iphone during an exhausting plane ride? i need to go read a book to repair myself.

  12. mark smith says:

    Ms. Qualls stated “He did that with other attractive young women too,” What, no fat homely girls ? Not to bag on her, but her claim that she would have been able to tell if the victim was slipping his breadstick in this girls oven, shows that she is either clueless or just refuses to face the obvious. Middle age guy helping troubled attractive teenager….you don’t have to be head dough spinner to put 2 and 2 together. Her lawyer will claim sexual abuse, rape, or some other bullchit. If the D A is going for a hard 50, that must have been one brutal crime scene.

    • admin says:

      I know what you’re saying, Mark but…

      I spoke quite extensively with Qualls and – while anything is possible and perhaps she had every reason to suspect something was romantically amiss – I take her at her word that there was no such detectable vibe.

      Perhaps the same could be said for McLinn early on.

      Who really knows what was going on in Sasko’s head, but given what appears to have unfolded and that she alone was invited into his living space, you could be right.

  13. dreamwriter326 says:

    I think one of the elephants poking its trunk through the door is that Kansas is one of the only states that doesnt consider probable cause statements a public record. Those puppies can answer a lot of questions, instead of opening these cases up to wild speculation.

    That said, good job on the reporting HC. I can see why the media isnt getting into the personal stuff at this point, but blogs like this have a little more leeway to have this conversation. Thats one of the true advantages bloggers have sometimes in reporting on news events like this.

  14. @Barrr says:

    Hahahahaha you’ll respond to my comments insulting me but you so t publish my response like a coward. I’ll give you this. You’re a great troll. I do not drink. I’m an artist. Self employed illustrator. I also aid my community in a way beyond simply gossip like your trash site…not sure how that makes me a wannabe. My podcast is consistently in the top 10 on iTunes for fine art. Were talking hundreds of thousands of DL’s per episode. So if you wanna take out our dicks & measure em… Try me! Idiot.

  15. dp says:

    what about incriminating digital evidence? text messages, email etc? There must be something.

    • admin says:

      Undoubtedly, but nobody’s talking yet…

      On the other hand, I think that based on McLinn’s lawyer’s statement, everybody already knows who dunnit. It’s maybe just a matter of calculating the plea deal or how it went down.

      • dp says:

        right, no mystery who. Just saying If he had sex with her, it kind of nullifies any good he may have done (for her), no? Maybe they could expedite discovery with some old text or email?

        • admin says:

          Good point, dp…

          That won’t get McLinn off, but I spoke at some length with her attorney yesterday and he’s a very experienced criminal lawyer. I don’t think he’ll be leaving many, if any stones unturned.

          On the other hand, depending on how the murder went down, short of some sort of the implied mental issues he spoke of, there’s not much chance of her getting a pass on killing Sasko in his sleep.

          If the police are correct about that.

  16. CG says:

    Hearne you struck gold with this one.

  17. Patrick says:

    This is a publication like the Star, right? The one you see in the impulse section when you’re checking out at the grocery store? Because I would find it rather laughable if the hearsay and conjecture I just read were called “reporting”. This is an editorial piece, right? And did you seriously use the phrase “quinquagenerian”? Was that to show the world your erudite vocabulary in the hopes that they don’t realize your lackluster liberal arts education didn’t teach you how to report objective facts? Or did you just need a sexy story to pump your ratings so you went with the, “sex-and-murder-in-a-small-town-where-I-go-some-weekends-when-I-want-to-feel-cool” angle?

    • admin says:

      Another Lawrence-ite…friend of the fam?

      I’d answer your questions but you’ve done such a bang up job answering them yourself.

    • chuck says:

      “Or did you just need a sexy story to pump your ratings so you went with the, “sex-and-murder-in-a-small-town-where-I-go-some-weekends-when-I-want-to-feel-cool” angle?”

      Whats the problem?

      By the way, I have never read or heard the word “quinquagenerian”, but if you have that Liberal Arts education, it isn’t hard to figure it out.


  18. Goose13 says:

    HC, any chance you talk to any CiCi employee’s or more ex-employee’s? They would be the one’s that would see a lot of stuff when she was working there. If they were students, they would be talking up a storm in the bars. When I was at KU, the bar staff always new what was going on. Same thing when I was in the Navy. Someone always talks. It is just finding who and where.

    • admin says:

      I haven’t yet…

      But I have some followup ideas and questions and…

      At this stage of the game I imagine they’re all scrambling wondering who is going to sign the paychecks and for how long, etc. He came from a big family, so I would imagine a brother or parent or both. That’s what happened when the Winslow of Winslow’s BBQ in the River Market snorted a little too much blow, slipped in the bathroom, fell into the porcelain and drove his nose into his brain and died.

      Parents came up and ran it for a while, then his brother took over full time before selling it years later.

      Ditto for Starker’s on the Plaza two years ago when the chef-owner killed himself.

      Lots of dark days.

  19. PB says:

    So what if he was banging/living with some young hottie? I don’t see the problem.

    -Steve McNair

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