Archive for Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Resident: Body in East Bottoms reminiscent of 2000 discovery

March 12, 2008

For Duane Clay, the discovery of a body in the East Bottoms last week recalled an earlier murder.

Clay's home in the swallowed-up community of Cedar Junction is the last on Corliss Road before it crosses the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad tracks and flattens out on the Kansas River flood plain. It was at an isolation spot near where the road meets the river that the body of a 24-year-old Penny Tyler was found March 14, 2000.

The Johnson County Sheriff's Office later determined Tyler, who was last seen alive on Independence Avenue in Kansas City, Mo., had been murdered. The case remains unsolved.

On the morning of March 5, employees of the Olathe water treatment plant found the badly burned woman's body on the access road to the boat ramp near Gardner Road and 83rd Street. The city of Olathe annexed a well field, which is surrounded by the city of De Soto, west of Cedar Creek and south of the Kansas River. The site is about a mile away from where the Tyler's body was discovered nearly eight months earlier.

The Olathe Police Department later identified the woman as 37-year-old Tammy K. Cochran. The woman was said to have moved frequently in the Kansas City metropolitan area.

The body appeared to have been recently burned, Olathe police said. The death is being investigated as a homicide.

For Clay, the discovery of another body in the East Bottoms at the same time of year seemed suspicious.

"It sure seems like someone knows where to go to get rid of a body," he said.

Or it could be coincidence, Clay said with a shrug and "Who knows?"

Early in the investigation of Cochran's death, detectives had the same questions as Clay.

"It may or may not be related," said Sgt. Jack Fahrnow, head of the Olathe Police Department's violent crime unit. "We've looked at several of these murders metrowide with similar means and motives. Unfortunately, this manner of death isn't that uncommon."

Cochran struggled with drugs and had a "high risk," mobile lifestyle, investigators report.

Fahrnow said the investigative team that included personnel from the Johnson County Sheriff's Office and the Lenexa and Leawood police departments had developed "some pretty good leads."

On Wednesday, the Olathe Police Department released video of Cochran taken Feb. 19 at a metropolitan area convenience store. The victim was last reported wearing a dark blue or black jacket with a fuzzy collar, blue jeans with some design on the rear pocket, black tennis shoes, and a light green v-neck top.

Anyone with information in the case is asked to call the Olathe Police Department at (913) 971-7455 or the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS (8477).

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