SOLVED! The Murder of Karen Stitts Solved 40 Years Later

Karen Stitts murder went cold many years ago- until DNA finally led cold case detectives to the killer, who was now living in Hawaii.



15-year-old Karen Stitts was living in Santa Clara, California in 1982. California life was new to her, as she had recently moved there to live with her father from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Michael Calhoun, a friend, and neighbor of Karen in California had this to say about Karen in an interview with Almanac News:

“Karen was not like any other girl I had met before. When she transferred from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Palo Alto, California, to live with her father during the second half of my sophomore year in high school, the first time I set eyes on her, I knew she was special — someone I wanted to get to know. Her smile could light up the darkest of rooms; her beautiful feathered blonde hair, and the way she spoke. I won’t say it was an accent per se, but it was different than any other girl I knew.”

On Thursday, September 2, 1982, Karen took a bus to Sunnyvale to visit her boyfriend. They spent the evening together, going to the 7–11 store to play video games and just hang out. Close to midnight, Karen needed to get back to the bus stop so she could get home.

Karen Stitts in California in an undated photo (Photo Credit:

Her boyfriend walked her close to the bus stop but then had to turn around and get home so he wouldn’t be late for his curfew.

The next morning, a delivery driver in the area saw something odd sticking out of the bushes. Upon further investigation, he found the nude body of Karen Stitts. She had been stabbed to death.

Photo by Kelly from Pexels:

There was ample DNA found at the scene, but no other clues leading them to any suspects. Of course, Karen’s boyfriend was initially a person of interest, but he was quickly ruled out when his DNA didn’t match. The detectives were baffled and haunted by the fact that they didn’t have any idea who would kill this 15-year-old girl.




Jen is the host of the missing persons podcast: "Where are they?”