LINWOOD, Kan. — Divers with an Oregon-based organization braved freezing temperatures and blowing snow Friday to search for Randy Leach, the Linwood high school senior who mysteriously disappeared nearly 33 years ago.
The team with Adventures With Purpose combed two Leavenworth County ponds for the missing teenager and his mom’s 1985 Dodge 600 sedan that he drove on April 15, 1988 — the last time he was seen.
“We’re just hoping to find out where Randy is,” his mom, Alberta Leach, told FOX4 on Friday. “We just want to know where Randy is and bring him home.”
By mid-afternoon, Jared Leisek and his team hadn’t found any signs of Randy or his mom’s car at the ponds near Linwood and Tonganoxie.
“Sadly, they found nothing,” family friend Betty Wilson said. “But they will be back in March (to continue their search for Randy).”
Friday marked the second time this week that Leisek’s crew searched locations in Leavenworth County where Randy’s parents have received tips of possible sightings or connections to the teen’s disappearance.
On Thursday, the team, which specializes in underwater vehicle search and recovery and solving cold cases, searched:
- Sarcoxie Lake near Linwood;
- A rock quarry and cave near Bonner Springs;
- The “Rise and Fall” pond near the Kansas River;
- Property near the Linwood farm where Randy was last seen.
But all four locations turn up no clues.
“We won’t give up,” Wilson said. “Jarod and his team won’t give up, either.”
As FOX4 has previously reported, 17-year-old Randy Leach attended a graduation party in April 1988 at a Linwood farm. Party witnesses said Randy seemed off that night. Drunk or drugged, but not himself. Witnesses said they last saw Randy around 2 a.m. the next morning.
Randy’s parents, Harold and Alberta Leach, knew something was wrong when they discovered he wasn’t in his bedroom the morning after the party. Randy, they said, always came home.
After Randy’s disappearance, rumors of drugs, Satanic cults and human sacrifices circulated throughout southern Leavenworth County.
But efforts to find him failed.
And his aging parents say the mystery surrounding Randy’s disappearance has only deepened over the years.
“It will be 33 years in April that Randy has been gone,” Alberta Leach told FOX4. “And we’re not giving up on finding him. We’ve received calls from Scotland and around the world from people who say they’re praying for us and are proud that we’re not giving up. We will never give up until we find Randy and bring him home.”
Since Randy vanished, his parents have questioned law enforcement actions and efforts to find their son. They started their own investigation and have worked with private investigators, a psychic, divers, cadaver dog teams and other experts in hopes of finding Randy.
In an exclusive 2016 investigation, FOX4 worked with Park University and reviewed thousands of pages of police records connected to Randy’s disappearance.
After examining those documents, associate criminal justice professor Eugene Matthews concluded Leavenworth County Sheriff’s detectives and the KBI made mistakes and missteps in their investigations.
“This would be a textbook example of what not to do,” Matthews said in 2016.
Matthews continued to help the couple search for their only son.
In 2017, he obtained a grant to bring in ground-penetrating radar to search some abandoned property about a half-mile from where Randy was last seen. The search didn’t find anything, but Matthews said the effort wasn’t in vain.
“Even if we don’t find what we’re looking for, we can stop looking in some of these areas,” Matthews said.
FOX4 asked the Leavenworth County Sheriff’s Office Friday about the status of Randy’s case. Undersheriff Jim Sherley, who has spearheaded the Leach investigation, has not responded to our questions. He’s previously told FOX4 the investigation remains open and said his office follows up on all leads.
Harold and Alberta hope that’s true.
“We’re not giving up,” Alberta said.
She’s optimistic about future searches.
“These guys are terrific,” she said of the Adventure with Purpose team. “We’re so thankful for them, and we know they’ll come back until they solve this.”
“More and more people are coming forward with information,” she added. “And we just appreciate anything they can give us to help us piece together what happened. We just want to bring Randy home.”
Friends of Harold and Alberta Leach also created the “In Search For Randy Leach” Facebook page where tips and information about the case can be shared.
The Leavenworth County Sheriff’s Office has also said anyone with information about Randy’s disappearance should contact them at 913-682-5724 or the Kansas Bureau of Investigation at 1-800-KS CRIME.