John Underhill, a private investigator who researched the disappearance of Summer Shipp, said the arrest of Jeffrey S. Sauerbry on an unrelated 11-year-old murder charge is a step in the right direction to get Sauerbry off the street for a long time.

John Underhill, a private investigator who researched the disappearance of Summer Shipp, said the arrest of Jeffrey S. Sauerbry on an unrelated 11-year-old murder charge is a step in the right direction to get Sauerbry off the street for a long time.

Sauerbry, 37, was indicted Friday by a Jackson County grand jury on one count of felony murder for allegedly stabbing to death William Kellett on July 4, 1998. The indictment was announced Monday.

“As far as I am concerned, justice will be served,” said Underhill, a private investigator hired by the Shipp family after Summer Shipp disappeared in Dec. 2004 after conducting door-to-door surveys in Independence.

Fishermen found Shipp’s remains three years later in Oct. 2007 in the Little Blue River near Missouri Highways 78 and 7.

Underhill’s investigation centered at that time on Sauerbry, who lived in the neighborhood in which Shipp disappeared. Some witnesses even recalled Shipp going up to the door of Sauerbry’s home. There was never enough evidence, however, to charge Sauerbry with the crime.

“To know he is going to be put in a place that he belongs is justice enough for me,” said Underhill, who is now based in Orange County, Calif.

Underhill said during the course of the investigation into Shipp’s disappearance, he uncovered witnesses who repeatedly told him Sauerbry was responsible for Kellett’s murder.

“For some reason it was brought out that he did that (to Kellett), but it was never enough evidence to charge him,” Underhill said. “A lot of the witnesses weren’t credible or were scared of Sauerbry.”

Tammy Dickinson, chief trial assistant in the Jackson County prosecutor’s office, said since the indictment was closed, she could not comment on evidence collected by investigators.

Sauerbry was already in Independence Police custody in Ray County on unrelated charges when he was charged, Dickinson said.

According to Independence Police, Kellett, then 53, was found dead in a shed connected to a used car dealership in the 600 block East U.S. 24. He reportedly had been shot and stabbed several times.

“The one thing that I know was that the weapons (allegedly used to kill Kellett) were buried behind a field where we searched for Summer Shipp,” Underhill said.

 Although Sauerbry was considered by police a person of interest in the Shipp case, he has never been charged. Dickinson said Friday’s indictment is not connected to the murder of Shipp.

“Those are two separate investigations,” Dickinson said. 

Sauerbry is currently being held in Jackson County Detention Center on $500,000 cash-only bond.

“Getting him off the street is something that needed to be done,” Underhill said. “For some reason it seems justice gets (murder suspects) in other ways.”