Sheriff says missing Missouri mother, daughter in danger

Monday, March 18, 2013 | 5:43 p.m. CDT; updated 7:07 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, March 19, 2013

An updated version of this story is available here.

KANSAS CITY — A central Missouri woman who has been missing with her young daughter since Thursday seemed to be reading from a script when she called her boyfriend and told him she was fine, but she later indicated to a sheriff that she was in trouble, authorities said Monday.

Rachel Koechner, 28, and her 4-year-old daughter, Zoee Sandner, were reported missing Thursday night after last being seen earlier that day in the Brookfield area. Chariton County Sheriff Chris Hughes said the two are believed to be with Koechner's ex-husband, Devon Sandner, 37, who is the girl's father, and are considered endangered because of a history of domestic violence. Devon Sander has not been charged in connection with their disappearance, but police are looking for him.

Koechner was at a motel in the Kansas City suburb of Blue Springs when she called her boyfriend Monday morning, Hughes said. "She called her boyfriend and said everything is OK, but it sounded like she was reading off a script," he said.

He said Koechner was at the check-out desk when he called the motel later and asked if she was staying there. A motel worker handed her the phone.

"She said she couldn't talk now," Hughes said. "I asked if she was OK, and she said, 'No.'"

By the time Blue Springs police arrived at the motel, she was gone.

Her mother reported her missing Thursday after her boyfriend received a text message from her that said, "help me."

Koechner and Devon Sandner divorced in November. He was charged in early January in Livingston County with third-degree domestic assault after his new girlfriend told police he had struck her in the face at a Chillicothe motel. In the probable cause statement from the Jan. 1 incident, an investigator said he thought Sandner was a flight risk because he didn't have anywhere to live.

"He advised me he had nowhere to go after he was supposed to check out of the hotel room," Chillicothe police officer Curtis Hays wrote. "He stated he and (the victim) had been living in a semi-tractor until he lost his job."

Also, an arrest warrant was issued Monday in Linn County for Sandner on five counts of forgery. Prosecutors said he wrote five bad checks on the account of another man in August.

Koechner filed for divorce Aug. 13, a week after she received a protection from abuse order against him.

Hughes said the mother, daughter and Sandner are believed to be in a charcoal gray 2003 Ford F-150 pickup with Missouri license plate 0PJ-718.


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