Neighbors won’t let killing vanish

MACHIAS – Neighbors and friends want to send a message to whoever killed Kelly Sarsten.

“We want the person to know we’re not just going to let it go away,” said neighbor Jerry McAllister, 59. “It’s a horrendous thing what was done to Kelly.”

Hundreds are expected to gather Saturday outside Sarsten’s Machias home for a candlelight vigil. Sarsten’s remains were found submerged in the Pilchuck River not far from her home Aug. 20.

Friends reported her missing the day before. Detectives searched Sarsten’s house, locating a sandal on a trail leading down to the river, according to a search warrant. A search dog led investigators to the river, where Sarsten’s body was located in a stagnant pool of water.

Almost six months into the investigation, the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office still hasn’t released how Sarsten, 37, was killed, only saying that she died of homicidal violence.

Police haven’t made an arrest in the case, and Sheriff Rick Bart declined to say whether investigators have any suspects.

“There’s somebody out there who needs to be in jail, and we’re being careful about what information we release,” sheriff’s spokeswoman Jan Jorgensen said in August.

Friends and neighbors have been frustrated that investigators haven’t spoken to them more about Sarsten, McAllister said.

“I don’t think they’ve talked to the right people,” he said.

“We were her family out here,” said friend Larry Nolan, 66.

McAllister and Nolan are part of a group of friends who gather at B.C. McDonald’s in Lake Stevens. Sarsten used to stop by every Friday to “talk and show off her dogs,” McAllister said.

“You just hoped she’d come in,” he said. “She was a sweetie.”

Bart said he understands the community’s frustration. He has called neighbors to assure them that detectives are diligently working on the case.

“It’s not a cold case. Everyone wants someone arrested,” he said.

But there is very little evidence, Bart said.

McAllister said they will continue to push for justice.

“We aren’t going to stop until we find out what happened,” he said. “We’ll never find closure until the person who did this is caught.”

Reporter Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463 or

Kelly Sarsten vigil

There will be a vigil 3:30-7:30 p.m. Saturday at 201 N. Machias Road, Snohomish, to commemorate Kelly Sarsten, who was killed in August. A candlelighting will be at 5 p.m.

Kelly Sarsten vigil

There will be a vigil 3:30-7:30 p.m. Saturday at 201 N. Machias Road, Snohomish, to remember Kelly Sarsten, who was killed in August. A candlelighting will be at 5 p.m.

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