A judge has denied a request for the release of investigative records into the 1988 disappearance of a Linwood teen.

A judge has denied a request for the release of investigative records into the 1988 disappearance of a Linwood teen.

Harold and Alberta Leach had sought records from the Leavenworth County Sheriff's Office related to the disappearance of their son.

Randy Wayne Leach disappeared April 15, 1988. He was 17 years old at the time. The case of his disappearance remains unsolved.

Harold and Alberta Leach requested the records of the investigation through 1992.

County Counselor David Van Parys argued against the release of the records on behalf of the Sheriff's Office during a hearing in November.

At the conclusion of the Nov. 21 hearing, District Judge David King said he wanted to review the records in question before making a decision.

King's 46-page decision was filed over the weekend in Leavenworth County District Court.

In the written decision, King ruled that the plaintiffs failed to establish that the release of the records would be in the public interest. The judge also wrote in his decision that his own review of the records showed no information that would promote the public interest as defined by state law.

“The legislature has made an informed decision that in balancing the interests of disclosure vs. non-disclosure, that non-disclosure is the rule and not the exception (for criminal investigation records),” King wrote in his decision. “In doing so it has determined that the adverse consequences of disclosure outweigh those of non-disclosure in most instances.”

King acknowledged that shielding “information from public view can lead to suspicion, and, understandable, but unjustified, conclusions of official improprieties.”

The judge went on to state that these “suspicions may be natural, but, standing alone lack legitimacy – they remain unfounded suspicions, not facts. Such unfounded suspicions undermine public confidence in public institutions."

But King argued state lawmakers have determined that there are other interests to protect when it comes to criminal investigative files. These include the fact that “investigative records can contain unsubstantiated allegations of wrongdoing against innocent people” and “disclosure can have a chilling effect on people coming forward with information if they know that it may be subject to disclosure.”

Max Kautsch, attorney for Harold and Alberta Leach, said in an email that his clients are disappointed by the decision and considering their legal options.

Sheriff Andy Dedeke said he was pleased with the decision.

Dedeke said his office continues to investigates Randy Leach's disappearance.

“It is our hope that at some point this can be resolved,” he said of the case.

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