Murder and My Adoption Story

The last day of 2020, one of the worst years of my life on record is a good time to get rid of what has dragged me down for over 30 years. The devastating loss of my fairy tale adoption brings me sadness almost every day, but I refuse to let it get me down.

December 31, 2020

I adopted my daughter, Kara, from India in 1980. In 1984 she met a young man named Johnny Sansing. She married Mr. Sansing in 1985.  If I had been a psychic and could have seen into the future, I would have tried to find a different answer to my problem of living with a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD).

Instead, I let her marry this cute blond, blue eyed murderer. Johnny was a true sociopath. He was charming and could make you believe he really was a good person. 

Kara and Johnny Sansing

When he was first arrested right after he married Kara, the police admitted they couldn’t get a handle on what kind of person he really was. My best friend Janice who supervised him while he was out waiting for his case to come up, said he was really difficult to read.

Johnny was a petty criminal.  He stole money to pay for his drug habit.  Kara worked and he would take her money and use it for drugs. He sold drugs as well as used them.

When they were first married, Kara had a trust fund.  Johnny couldn’t get his hands on it.  The trustee would pay their rent until they would get thrown out of the apartment for various reasons. Then the trustee would help them with money for a new place.

The trustee would buy them a new washer and dryer every place they moved to. Johnny would turn around and sell the set and use the money to live on and buy drugs. This went on for several years.

The trustee finally had enough. She bought them a mobile home, paid 6 months’ rent and closed out Kara’s trust fund in 1997. When that money ran out and they couldn’t pay the space rent, Johnny, Kara and their 4 kids moved to Arizona.

Johnny’s sister Patsy had moved to Arizona. She was Johnny’s go-to person when he was in trouble or needed a place to stay.

Kara always kept my sister, Myra informed on where she was and what was happening in her life. I pretty much washed my hands of her and Johnny when I tried to get her help through the Women in Jeopardy program run by the YWCA. Kara called Patsy and escaped from the program. She went right back to her abuser.

The Call That Almost Destroyed Me

A call from Myra one morning in late February, 1998, ruined all hopes and dreams that Kara would leave Johnny and get her life straightened out. Johnny and Kara had been arrested for the murder of a volunteer church worker.

Police Badge

I cannot describe my emotions at that time. I think I just went numb. The question in my head kept repeating WHY? WHY? WHY?  

Johnny had called a church for food and some cash assistance for bills.  When the woman arrived, Johnny attacked her, raped her and killed her. He stole some jewelry she wore, took it out and pawned it for more money.

When he came back from the pawn shop, he dragged her body out to the back yard and covered her body with cardboard boxes. Kara was trying to protect the kids, but they witnessed what was happening.

The police said Kara was just as responsible for the murder as Johnny because she didn’t try to stop him or get help. Both Johnny and Kara went to jail and the 4 kids were placed in foster care.

Johnny was sentenced to death and Kara received a life sentence. Johnny is still on death row, but Kara’s sentence was changed to 25 years. She will be released sometime in 2023.


I have had PTSD from this episode.  Every time I turned around, someone was contacting me for information. Usually they wanted to know what I knew about Johnny. Did I know his history? Did I know his family? Why did I let my daughter marry him?

Did I know his history? No, I did not.  I met Patsy his sister.  He worked for his dad. I eventually found out that he had spent time in Juvenile Detention and his mother sent him to live with his dad because she couldn’t control him.

Did I know his family? No, I only knew his sister Patsy.  She never told any of us of his run in with the law back home.

Why did I let my daughter marry him? That is the hardest question.  Kara was not an easy child.  She was the victim of child abuse and had a lot of emotional baggage she received while in India. I was exhausted trying to parent her.  Besides she was pregnant with Johnny’s baby.

There was someone who wanted to write a book about the murder case. I wasn’t ready to have my name popping up somewhere.  News people would get my number and call wanting an interview. Lawyers or paralegals kept calling wanting information.

This went on for years. I expect it will continue until I throw in the towel and go meet my maker. A few years ago, in 2014, I was visited by a police officer who wanted to know what kind of car Johnny drove in 1991.

Police officer

How the heck would I know? I gave Johnny and Kara my old white Dodge Charger in 1985. That car went by the wayside a couple of years later. I wasn’t having anything to do with the kids by then.

The police officer kept asking every way he could, I just couldn’t give him what he wanted. I was totally in the dark about why that car was so important.

On August 28, 2014 I was sitting on my couch folding clothes and watching a TV program when a Breaking News flash came on. The police chief of Salt Lake County came on and said they had solved a cold case murder from 1991. The victim was a 72 year old woman who was killed in her own home.

The murderer was none other than John E. Sansing, my son-in-law. The law had identified him by DNA, the fingerprints of my 5 year old grandson, Joshua and the testimony of his wife, my daughter Kara.

I sat there too stunned for words. I couldn’t talk and I was shaking and started to hyperventilate.  My life had just been turned upside down again.  Once I was able to calm down, I called my boss and let her know I was taking the next day off. I also called Steve, my nephew who has lived with this the whole time.

The next call was to my friend Janice and let her know since she knew Johnny. Janice is a social worker and has been my rock whenever I have to deal with these crises.


If I had known what I know now, I would have done my best to find Kara a different family that would have known how to help her. Why do I say this? Well, you see, I now help families who do adopt children like Kara.

For the last 10 years, I have been the social worker for Wasatch International Adoptions’ Second Chance Program.  We offer help to families who adopt children with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), emotional problems, and other issues that the families were totally unprepared for.

We have found that these children have all kinds of emotional damage from living in an orphanage, foster care, or any out-of-home situation. They often take out their feelings, their survival skills and anger on the first permanent family they experience. Often they go to a new family and all the damaging behaviors they had in the first family are left behind.


Adoption agencies in Utah that I support:

Wasatch International Adoptions

Children’s Service Society

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Published by annla1441

Adoption Social Worker. Lived in Utah

5 thoughts on “Murder and My Adoption Story

  1. Ann, you are so brave. I knew there was a bad story you were holding in, and it took great courage to share it. It is worse than I thought. You are a wonderful person and Kara missed having a mom/daughter relationship with such a great mom. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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