The confirmation Wednesday that a missing Olathe woman was one of three homicide victims at a farm outside Ottawa raised the stakes in the search for her still-missing 18-month-old daughter.
Franklin County authorities told relatives shortly after 1 p.m. that they had identified one of the bodies found at the farm in the 3100 block of Georgia Road as Kaylie Bailey, 21, an Ottawa High School graduate who had moved in with her mother and grandmother in Olathe.
Authorities found Bailey’s car Tuesday night in Emporia, along with a man they wanted to question in connection with the homicides. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation later referred to the man as a “suspect” in a news release.
Despite the arrest, authorities said they don’t know the whereabouts of Bailey’s daughter, Lana-Leigh Bailey. She and her mother were last seen May 1 headed to the farm to visit one of Bailey’s friends.
The KBI sent out a press release about 4 p.m. Wednesday asking for the public’s help in finding Lana-Leigh. But they didn’t issue a full Amber Alert because too much time had passed and the case already was getting a lot of media coverage, they said. Franklin County had asked for an Amber Alert about 3:45 p.m. Wednesday.
Relatives said they wanted an Amber Alert issued much earlier, but Franklin County officials told them the case did not meet the criteria.
“I just don’t know what could have happened to the baby,” said Wilma Pettijohn, Kaylie’s grandmother. “We’re grieving for Kaylie, but not knowing where Lana is, we have such mixed feelings. We’re still going to hope.”
The bodies of two men also were found at the farm. Authorities on Wednesday identified them as Andrew Stout, 30, who lived at the farm, and one of his roommates, Steven E. White, 31. The men had not been seen since late April. Both were reported missing by relatives who were anxiously awaiting the identification of the bodies.
No one was in custody Wednesday afternoon in connection with the homicides, said Franklin County Sheriff Jeffrey Richards.
“Our priority is finding Lana,” he said, describing her as having brown hair and blue eyes, standing about 2 feet tall and weighing 30 pounds.
Asked whether investigators believe Lana is still alive, Richards said: “We have no indication that she is not. We are just going to continue to search for this child and at the same time continue to investigate these homicides.
“We have three homicide victims here that need justice, and so do their families.”
He declined to discuss details of the investigation.
Earlier Wednesday, Bailey’s relatives said they believed Kaylie and Lana were in danger.
“We hope whoever took Lana looked into her big, blue eyes and decided not to harm her,” her sister Shawna Pettijohn said, adding that their fears grow stronger the longer the toddler is missing.
The sight of Lana’s toys scattered around the Olathe home where she had been living since November is bittersweet for relatives. One toy, a red squeaky rabbit, contains a recorded message — Lana’s giggle — when it’s squeezed.
“I can’t squeeze this,” Wilma Pettijohn said, breaking down in tears. “I can’t play with this. Everything we have around here, the things on the door knobs and drawers so she couldn’t open them, the gates on the stairs. ... I look around and think it will be impossible if she doesn’t come back.”
The girl loves people to read books to her while she snuggles in their laps and points to pictures, a great aunt said Wednesday. Her favorite toy, a Christmas gift from her mother, is a train she can sit on.
“She has really short legs, but she’s really fast,” said her great aunt, Linda Journeys of Olathe.
Bailey left her mother and grandmother’s home in Olathe about noon May 1 to visit Stout, one of her co-workers whom she was dating, relatives said.
She did not report to work at the American Eagle Outfitters warehouse in Ottawa that night, which was unusual, nor the next night, so on Friday relatives reported her missing to Olathe police. Olathe police told Franklin County deputies that Bailey and her toddler were missing and that their intended destination was an address in their jurisdiction.
Three of Stout’s friends discovered the homicide scene Monday, a day after going to the farm to check on Stout and his animals.
On Sunday, they smelled a terrible odor coming from the house and garage, so they called Franklin County deputies. The deputies looked in the garage and house, didn’t see anything and concluded the stench was from trash.
But Stout’s friends knew something was amiss. They returned Monday and found a woman’s body under a blue tarp. They again called deputies, who found the men’s bodies.
Dogs from Kansas Search and Rescue searched the property and did not find any other bodies, Franklin County officials said Wednesday. Officials later used dental records and DNA to identify Bailey, said her grandfather, Andy Pettijohn.
Stout had several roommates, some of whom he had recently asked to move out because they weren’t helping to pay bills, friends said. Some of the roommates had criminal records, including convictions for attempted murder, aggravated battery and criminal possession of a firearm.
Bailey’s family recalled her Wednesday as a good mother working hard to be a good single parent. Whenever her daughter would get fussy, Bailey would get down on the floor with her, said Journeys.
“She was almost like a kid herself, rolling around with her, giggling and laughing,” she said.
Both her parents worked in the nursing field, so Bailey got her certified nursing assistant degree before deciding that she was too small to lift some heavy patients, Journeys said. So she switched to being a security guard. She recently had begun playing disc golf with Stout.
Lana-Leigh’s father, Shawn Bailey, has been locked up in a Missouri jail since Feb. 28, according to his mother, Rachel Helms-Bailey. The couple — together since Kaylie was 16 — previously had lived with her for years. Kaylie left him and moved to Olathe in November. She filed for divorce in February and had a final court date next week, relatives said.
Shawn Bailey had been in and out of jail often, and relatives weren’t thrilled when Kaylie married him, they said. But she saw the best in people and wanted to help them, Wilma Pettijohn said.
“Young people don’t have the best judgment when it comes to people to associate with,” she said. “I told Kaylie, ‘Whether you do anything wrong or not, you’re going to get caught up in bad stuff if you hang around people like that.’ ... I think she was at the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Helms-Bailey said police kicked in the door where her other son, Cyle Bailey, was staying in Kansas City on Tuesday night and kept him overnight for questioning. She said police released him at 6:45 a.m. Wednesday.
She was “furious” that authorities didn’t seek an Amber Alert until Wednesday.
“They told me the investigation isn’t mature yet,” she said. “My son (Shawn) told me last night to do whatever I can to find his baby.”
Asked why he hadn’t sought an Amber Alert earlier, Richards said at first the situation did not meet the criteria required for issuing one. It was a missing persons case until the mother’s death was confirmed Wednesday, he said.