boston.com your connection to The Boston Globe

Man arraigned in Kan. teen's slaying

Police say suspect seen on store video

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- A man videotaped leaving a store shortly before a teenager was abducted in the parking lot was arraigned on murder and kidnapping charges yesterday, authorities said.

Edwin R. Hall, 26, is accused of premeditated first-degree murder and aggravated kidnapping in the death of 18-year-old Kelsey Smith, the Johnson County Court website said. Bond was set at $5 million.

Hall, looking tired and downcast, appeared yesterday in Johnson County Court via video feed from a jail in nearby Gardner. He waived the reading of the charges until he can hire a lawyer . His next appearance was scheduled for June 14 .

The charges were levied a day after Smith's body was found in the woods. She had been missing since Saturday night, when she went to the Target store in this Kansas City suburb to buy a gift for her boyfriend.

Surveillance video showed her being forced into her car around 7:10 p.m. and the car driving off. It was found in a nearby mall parking lot about two hours later.

Police Chief John Douglass said Hall appeared to be the person in the video leaving the store soon after Smith.

"This community has lost a vibrant and promising life, and a family has suffered unimaginable tragedy," said Phill Kline, prosecutor for Johnson County.

Police said Hall's vehicle matched the description of a dark mid-1970s Chevrolet pickup that was seen entering the parking lot shortly after Smith's car.

"I want to again express my condolences to the Smith family," Douglass said. "I realize that this is not the preferred conclusion. While we cannot give them their daughter back, we can at least give them justice."

Detectives said a tip led them to Hall, a resident of nearby Olathe. If convicted, he would face a sentence of 25 years to life in prison for the murder charge and more than 12 years for aggravated kidnapping, said Brian Burgess, spokesman for the Johnson County district attorney's office.

Douglass said police had received more than 500 tips in the case and questioned numerous people .

Police found Smith's body in a wooded area near Grandview, Mo., about 20 miles east of the store. Authorities have not said how she died.

SEARCH THE ARCHIVES