34-year-old Edwin Enoc Lara, a former campus safety officer at Central Oregon Community College and resident of Bend, Oregon, was sentenced Thursday to life in federal prison for kidnapping and carjacking.
“Edwin Lara is a ruthless killer who will rightfully spend the rest of his life in prison,” said Billy J. Williams, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon. “There is simply no place in civil society for this type of horrific violence. I sincerely hope Lara’s two life sentences will bring some measure of comfort to his victims and their families. Their courage and perseverance throughout Lara’s lengthy state and federal cases are an inspiration to the entire law enforcement community.”
According to court documents, between July 24 and July 26, 2016, Lara went on a violent crime spree that left multiple victims and their families in its wake. Early on the morning of July 24, 2016, Lara brutally murdered 23-year-old Bend resident Kaylee Sawyer, a crime for which he would later receive a life sentence in Deschutes County Circuit Court.
After the murder, on July 25, 2016, Lara fled to Salem, Oregon where he carjacked and kidnapped a young woman at gun point. Lara told his victim he was a police officer and showed her news reports about what he had done to Kaylee Sawyer. He then forced her to travel with him to California. Along the way, Lara decided to stop at a hotel in Cottage Grove, Oregon. Inside the hotel room, Lara handcuffed his victim, forced her to take sleeping pills, and made a series of physical advances leading her to believe he might sexually assault her.
A short while later, after receiving a phone call and growing concerned that law enforcement was nearing his location, Lara left the hotel with his victim and continued traveling toward California. At some point during the drive, Lara sought to change vehicles to avoid detection and stopped at two rest areas looking for another vehicle to steal.
In the early morning hours on July 26, 2016, Lara stopped at a motel in Yreka, California where he spotted an elderly man near his vehicle. Lara parked, grabbed his victim by the hand and approached the man. With his gun visible, Lara told the man that he needed his vehicle. When the man wouldn’t comply, Lara shot him in the abdomen. At this point, Lara’s victim pleaded with him to let her go, but he again grabbed her hand and forced her to flee with him by foot to a nearby gas station.
At the gas station, Lara found his next victims, two young men and their elderly grandmother, sitting inside a vehicle. After threatening to shoot them, Lara entered their vehicle with his Oregon victim and forced them to drive off. During the drive, Lara confessed to his victims that he had an “urge to kill” and had already murdered a young woman in Bend and shot a man in Yreka. Lara eventually dropped his three California victims on the side of the road, again threatened to kill them and continued driving southbound with his Oregon victim. Soon after, California law enforcement caught up with Lara and arrested him.
On November 16, 2016, a federal grand jury in Eugene returned a four-count indictment charging Lara with one count each of kidnapping and carjacking, and two counts of using, carrying, and brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. Prior to sentencing, Lara pleaded guilty to the kidnapping and carjacking charges before U.S. District Court Judge Michael J. McShane.
This case was investigated by the Redmond Police Department, Bend Police Department, Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, Oregon State Police and other local law enforcement agencies in California with the assistance of the FBI. It was prosecuted by Nathan J. Lichvarcik, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.
The case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN). PSN is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.
Source: US Attorney for Oregon