UPDATE 11:00 a.m. Thursday: In a news conference, Franklin County Sheriff’s Department said with information they have received, they presume little Lana Bailey is dead. At the time of the news conference police had not yet recovered the body, but were searching for her. Police said they arrested Kyle Flack, 27, in connection with the triple homicide in Franklin County. See details on those developments here.
OTTAWA, Kan. — It all began at a farm down Georgia Road outside Ottawa, Kan. Three bodies discovered on a property earlier in the week — and Wednesday authorities confirmed one family’s worst fears: one of the bodies was 21-year-old Kaylie Bailey.
“We were very hopeful that Kaylie would not be the female victim but of course we always knew that that was a strong possibility,” said Shawna Pettijohn, Kaylie’s sister, while speaking at an evening news conference.
Bailey’s body was positively identified through a forensics examination along with her friend, 30-year-old Andrew Stout and roommate, 31-year-old Steven White.
Bailey was reported missing to Olathe police by her family on May 3, a few days after she told them she was going to stay with Stout so he could babysit her daughter, Lana, while she went to work in Ottawa.
The whereabouts of Lana remain unknown.
“It’s been extremely difficult for all the family,” said Andy Pettijohn, grandfather to Kaylie.
Still in disbelief and grief, the family is holding out hope for something else — the safe return of little 18-month-old Lana.
“We do want her back. There’s never been anything else that we’ve wanted just bring her back to us.”
“What we are hoping is he could not bring himself to kill this child, knowing that she cannot be a witness and she’s not going to identify him or anything, that he says i can’t bring it in my heart to do this to a youngster like this, those baby blue eyes,” Andy Pettijohn said.
The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office said his deputies have been looking for Lana all this time, along with Olathe police. However, authorities were waiting to positively identify the bodies before moving full steam ahead.
Now, the sheriff says, finding Lana, last seen at that rural home, is their number one priority.
“We were going to continue to look for Lana and we have no indication that she is not alive and we are just going to continue to search for this child at the same time were going to continue to investigate this homicide,” Sheriff Richards said.
CONTINUING COVERAGE: Franklin Co. homicide investigation
Andy Pettijohn said he has been frustrated by the police response, but said he understands officers are trying.
“If they had their way, as fathers and grandfathers themselves, they would do it right now.”
The sheriff said they are speaking with multiple people, including a “person of interest.” However, as of Wednesday evening, there is no one in custody.
“If you have this child, take her to a safe place — a fire station, a church, a hospital…
somewhere and drop her off,” said Rachel Helms-Bailey, the paternal grandmother to Lana.
Rachel’s son, Shawn Bailey, is the father of the missing toddler. The 25-year-old is currently serving an 11-year sentence on burglary charges. The couple was in the process of getting a divorce before Kaylie’s death.
“I had to break the news to my son that his wife was murdered and that his child is missing,” she said. “My granddaughter is still out there in somebody’s arms, somebody’s hand or somebody’s field somewhere,” Helms-Bailey said. “We don’t care about your circumstances. We don’t care who you are. We care about this child.”
Lana is two feet tall, weighs 30 pounds and has light brown hair and blue eyes. She was last seen in Olathe.
If you have any information on the location of Lana call 911 or 888-311-8477 or the Kansas Bureau of Investigation at 1-800-K-CRIME.