How well can you really know someone? It’s a question we all ask ourselves at some point in our lives. We want to think that we can trust some people. Those few people we let into our lives in a meaningful way at the very least: but you never know.
Hal and Sarah were an unlikely pair of friends. They had known each other for nearly five years and when Sarah was in trouble, Hal was right there to help her. But on the day that Hal was in trouble, Sarah was nowhere to be found…
Harold hadn’t showed up for work for three days, which was unusual, since he owned the restaurant. When police arrived at his home in Lawrence, Kansas, they found a gruesome scene before them. His roommate, close friend and former employee, 21-year-old Sarah was nowhere to be found.
52-year-old Harold “Hal” Sasko had, before his untimely death, was the owner of three successful CiCi’s Pizza restaurants. His roommate, Sarah, had worked at the Lawrence CiCi’s when she was in high school, but had run into some personal problems since then and that necessitated a place to stay. She had always been a trustworthy employee, so Hal agreed that she could stay with him…
Of course, anyone who knew Hal and Sarah were pretty certain that their “friendship” was a bit more than it seemed on the surface. According to some of Hal’s employees, there was a sort of unspoken thing between the 53-year-old and his much younger and much more vulnerable houseguest.
Sarah’s upbringing had been a tumultuous one and Hal had learned a good deal about it when she worked for him in high school. Apparently, Sarah had suffered sexual abuse as a child and was even brutally raped when she was 15. When she got the job at 17 and met Hal, it seemed she had finally met someone who was going to help her…
Sarah McLinn moved in with Hal when she was 20, a few years after they had first met and after she had moved on to bigger and better things. She had personal issues and needed a place to stay, Hal agreed, but over the next year, things became a bit weird at the Sasko house.
Hal seemed perfectly fine buying his new houseguest/secret lover any number of expensive things. He even paid for Sarah to have two plastic surgeries, a nose job and buttocks implants, while she lived with him. If there wasn’t a sexual component to their newfound friendship, these “perks” definitely revealed an intention on Hal Sasko’s part…
All outward appearances to the contrary, Sarah was becoming increasingly more depressed with each day she spent in Hal’s home. She couldn’t leave, because now she owed him and as if that wasn’t enough, she was also beginning to feel that the butt implants were embarrassing. The depression stewed and came out in strange and unsettling ways.
Cyle Ossiander, a manager at two of Hal’s CiCi’s restaurants, came to visit several times and noticed that something was wrong. One time, he remembered Sarah having butchered a rabbit for dinner. “It was a household rabbit, not game..I don’t know of many people that would kill a rabbit and eat it.” It was odd, and she was remarkably calm for someone who had never done such a thing before…
When police found Harold Sasko, he was nearly decapitated and sprawled on the living room floor. His wrists and ankles had been zip tied, empty beer cans littered the room, and his blood had been smeared on the wall. Within the blood, someone had scrawled the word “FREEDOM” There was only one suspect.
Sarah McLinn was nowhere to be found and neither was Hal’s Nissan Altima. Apparently, the alleged killer had fled the crime scene and driven as far away as she could. Police began a statewide manhunt for her, unaware that she had first driven all the way to Texas to, as she would eventually put it, “see the ocean”…
It wasn’t until a park ranger in the Florida Everglades spotted Hal Sasko’s car a week later that the police got any real leads. The Everglades National Park ranger saw the car and discovered that she had been camping in it illegally for several days. He alerted the authorities and soon detectives from Lawrence had caught up with her to fly her back home.
Have a Beer
Their interrogation of McLinn was very telling. She admitted to having crushed several Ambien, a prescription sleep aid, into a beer before giving it to Sasko. Then, once he was completely incapacitated and unable to defend himself, she tied him up and stabbed him with a knife. The question still remained though, why would she kill her friend and savior?
What it Felt Like
According to McLinn, she had plunged the knife into his neck “to see what it felt like to kill someone.” It was a very jarring answer and by most accounts, very unlike Sarah McLinn. The proof was in the pudding, as they say, and with her confession and the forensic evidence, Sarah was brought to trial.
Throughout the course of the trial, McLinn’s attorney, Carl Cornwell, insisted that McLinn herself did not kill Sasko. According to him, it was one of her compartmentalized personalities, someone named “Alyssa.” Obviously they were going for the popular “insanity plea” but it’s not exactly easy to prove or disprove Dissociative Identity Disorder…
The Defense’s diagnosis was obviously not enough and eventually McLinn had to be tested by a neutral party. Unfortunately for her, the evaluators at Larned State Hospital found that McLinn did not meet the criteria for Dissociative Identity Disorder. She did however have borderline personality disorder with antisocial tendencies, but that didn’t prove “Alyssa” was anything more than a clever exaggeration.
“This was not carried out by a ‘nice little girl,’” explained the prosecution in closing arguments. “This was carried out by somebody who was methodical and had foresight.” Before she killed Sasko, McLinn had told her coworkers she was going to be gone for a death in family a few days before she fled. The jury certainly had a lot to think about…
Not Buying It
Ultimately, the jury didn’t buy McLinn’s unbelievable story of multiple personalities and found her guilty of murder. With few avenues available to him, Carl Cornwell argued that Douglas County District Judge Paula Martin should send McLinn to a state hospital instead of to prison because of her mental illness.
Cromwell added that if prison was decided, the judge should grant Sarah McLinn a 25-year sentence instead of the Hard 50. “I will always respect what a jury decides, and I can tell with that jury how thoughtful they were, how considerate, and that they give it their all, but I don’t agree with them.” he explained. Meanwhile, Sasko’s family has agreed wholeheartedly to the verdict…
Hal’s brother, Tom Sasko, and McLinn herself addressed the court before her sentence. Tom Sasko said that there are no winners in this case but added that he believes McLinn should received the 50-year sentence. “I honestly feel she will do society no good after 25 years when she is released. I want 50 years.”
McLinn on the other hand expressed her remorse to the killing and said that she never intended to hurt anyone. In the end, the judge and jury decided that Sarah Gonzales McLinn will be forced to serve the Hard 50. Meaning she will be nearly 70 years old when she gets her first chance for parole in 2063.