Kelsey Ann Smith was last seen alive in the parking lot of Oak Park Mall in Overland Park, Kansas, on the evening of June 2, 2007. Police launched an extensive publicity campaign, which made national headlines, to coincide with the search. Unfortunately, her body was found a few days later near a lake in Missouri.
18-year-old Kelsey had been shopping at a Target store; she telephoned her mom as she left the store and then vanished.
Kelsey’s car was found just a few hours after she disappeared, abandoned in a nearby parking lot. Her purse and wallet were in the car. Surveillance footage of the first parking lot appeared to show a grainy image of her being forced into her vehicle.
Police found unidentifiable fingerprints on a seat belt and when they checked surveillance footage of Kelsey’s movements in the store, they noticed that a man appeared to be following her in each frame. On June 6th, the day her body was found, police received a positive ID from the footage and arrested Edwin Ray Hall.
When the police arrived at Edwin’s home, the 26-year-old was in the process of leaving town with his wife and son. He admitted to seeing Kelsey at the Oak Park Mall but initially denied any involvement in her murder. When the police matched his fingerprints to those found in Kelsey’s car, they knew they had their man.
Hall finally confessed to kidnapping, raping, and murdering Kelsey. He was sentenced to serve life in prison with no possibility of parole.
Kelsey’s parents, Greg and Missey Smith, later pressed Kansas lawmakers to ensure cellphone companies cooperated more quickly with police conducting searches for missing people. Kelsey’s body was found by following pings from her cellphone, a process that allegedly Verizon only agreed to do after she’d been missing four days.
Once Verizon did finally agree to hand over GPS data, the pings found Kelsey’s cellphone and her body within an hour.
Catch the details of the case on The Night That Didn’t End at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery.