8/27/2014

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Sheriff: Missing Missouri mother faked kidnapping

Sheriff: Missing Missouri mother faked kidnapping
Rachel Koechner and her 4-year-old daughter Zoee Sandner are seen in a photo released by Chariton County Sheriff's office.
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A woman and her 4-year-old daughter who were reported missing last week have been found safe in central Missouri, and the mother faces charges of faking their abduction, a sheriff said early Tuesday.

Rachel Koechner, 28, and her daughter, Zoee Sandner, had last been seen Thursday in the Brookfield area, about 100 miles northwest of Kansas City, and were reported missing that night after her boyfriend received a text message from her that read, "help me."

Authorities believed Koechner and Zoee were with her ex-husband, Devon Sandner, 37, who is Zoee's father, and that they could be in danger because of a history of domestic violence, Chariton County Sheriff Chris Hughes said.

Those concerns were compounded when Koechner reached out to her boyfriend from a motel in the Kansas City suburb of Blue Springs on Monday.

"She called her boyfriend and said everything is OK, but it sounded like she was reading off a script," Hughes said.

Linn County sheriff's police and Missouri State Highway Patrol officers located all three about 10 p.m. Monday at a home in Linn County, just north of Brookfield. Hughes would not say whose home, but stressed that no one was injured.

"It's a very unfortunate situation, but the good thing is everyone is safe," Hughes said.

Koechner was taken into custody and was being held in Chariton County Jail pending charges.

"Through investigation police learned she fabricated the (abduction) story," Hughes said. He provided no details.

Sandner was not charged in connection with Koechner and Zoee's disappearance, but was taken into custody on an outstanding forgery warrant, Hughes said. The child was placed in state custody.

When Hughes called the Blue Springs motel later on Monday to find out if Koechner was there, a motel worker said she was standing at the check-out desk and handed her he 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, Koechner was gone.
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