Friday, January 6, 2006
Sauerbry ordered to prison

Jeff Sauerbry, a former person of interest in the Summer Shipp missing person case, was sentenced to a year in federal prison Thursday for parole violations.

Prosecutors said the conviction is not related to the Shipp investigation. Still friends of Shipp attended the sentencing and expressed hope that someone will now come forward with more information about Shipp's disappearance from a central Independence neighborhood where Sauerbry lived.

"It sounds like he's going to be in prison for a while," Kathleen Connors, a friend of Shipp's said. "I wish they could have made more of a connection to Summer. At least it's something."

Sauerbry was arrested in December for violating his supervised release from a 2002 federal weapons conviction in New Mexico. Upon release from prison, Sauerbry was placed on supervised release, which he had transferred to Missouri.

The release required him to complete a resident substance abuse program. Sauerbry stayed in the half-way house for 30 days.

He told the judge Thursday he was unclear when he entered what the stay requirements were.

"I was there for 30 days," Sauerbry said. "I thought the max was 28 days. They wanted me there for 120 days."

Sauerbry said since he signed himself into the program, he thought he could sign himself out.

Defense attorney Travis Poindexter asked the judge to consider the lighter end of the possible sentence, about six months.

"He recognizes his conduct was wrong," Poindexter said.

However, prosecuting attorney Matt Whitworth objected.

"He has demonstrated that he's not going to address his drug problem," Whitworth said.

Whitworth said he was pleased with the judge's decision.

"I'm very pleased with the court sentencing Mr. Sauerbry to the maximum," Whitworth said. "I think that's the appropriate sentence for someone of his background."

Sauerbry was arrested last January on traffic violations and held for questioning in the disappearance of Shipp, a Kansas City woman last seen in December 2004. She remains missing today, with few leads in the case.

Shipp was doing door-to-door surveys and was last seen at Sauerbry's door near the corner of College Terrace and Forest Avenue.

Sauerbry was the subject of much speculation in the case, as it was released that he was questioned in a 1998 murder case in which a security guard was killed near the wooded area behind William Chrisman High School.

Independence police questioned Sauerbry and searched his mother's home on more than one occasion. However police say there has not been enough evidence linking Shipp's disappearance to Sauerbry

Shipp's daughter Brandy Shipp has stated previously that she believes Sauerbry could know more than he's telling. She's hopeful more people will come forward with information now.

Connors said she wanted to come to the sentencing because she wanted to stay involved in Summer's case.

"She was just such a wonderful person," Connors said. "I really think we just need to find out what happened."

To reach Stephanie Boothe, send e-mail to stephanie.boothe or call her at (816) 350-6392