Author Topic: Karen Caughlin (14) - Murder - Sarnia, ON - March 16, 1974  (Read 67649 times)

Chris

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Karen Caughlin (14) - Murder - Sarnia, ON - March 16, 1974
« on: September 24, 2007, 12:20:20 PM »
The Government of the Province of Ontario is offering a reward in the amount of fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for the murder of Karen CAUGHLIN.

On the early morning of March 16, 1974, Karen CAUGHLIN, age 14, was dropped off on Brock Street South in SARNIA, Ontario, in front of her girlfriend?s house. She never entered the residence and her body was discovered later that day in a shallow ditch at the edge of a gravel side road a few miles northwest of the Town of PETROLIA, Ontario.

Any person having information regarding the person(s) responsible for the murder of Karen CAUGHLIN should communicate immediately with the Director of the Criminal Investigations Branch, Ontario Provincial Police at 1-888-310-1122 or (705) 329-6111, their nearest police authority, or Crime Stoppers.

This reward will be apportioned as deemed just by the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services for the Province of Ontario and the Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police.

Julian Fantino,
Commissioner
http://www.police.sarnia.on.ca/unsolvedhomicides.asp?fldTITLE=Karen%20Caughlin



Video about this case
Karen's Story

http://www.fixmagazine.ca/about.html
« Last Edit: October 15, 2010, 06:17:14 PM by Chris »

kindheart

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Re: Karen Caughlin (14) - Murder - Sarnia, ON - March 16, 1974
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2008, 02:59:04 PM »
Way to go Kathy!!! They MUST keep this unit in place.
~kindheart

No plans to disband cold case squad
OPP inspector says unit might even expand beyond Ontario
Posted By Scott Dunn
Posted 37 mins ago

The Ontario provincial police inspector who oversees the force?s cold case squad expects it to be around for at least another year.
Dave Cardwell, a deputy-director in the Criminal Investigation Branch in London who oversees the Historical Investigations Unit, said
Thursday he expects the squad's term will be extended for another six months come April "and the following six months I honestly don?t see any changes again."

Cardwell?s remarks came a day after Kathy Caughlin sent an e-mail to OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino, among others, pleading on behalf of victims for the cold case squad to continue its work. The long-grieving woman, who has never given up hope her sister?s killer will be brought to justice, contacted the commissioner after reading on The Sun Times website the series about unsolved local mysteries that was published in December. Caughlin lives in Calgary.

Some officers in the six-member OPP Historical Investigations Unit told The Sun Times they were worried the squad might not survive,
given Fantino?s stated priority of tackling violent crime and road safety issues. Caughlin?s 14-year-old sister, Karen Caughlin, was found dead, beaten unrecognizable, 34 years ago near Petrolia, Ont. Before Historical Investigations Unit detectives got involved, she said tips passed on to police would sit on an investigator?s desk for months without being pursued. People who gave the tips started telling the family police never followed up on them.

Caughlin said 28 years passed without hearing from police despite requests to be updated on developments. Then in 2003, out of the
blue, police contacted her family with a request to meet with them.In 2005, tests confirmed police have DNA evidence, thanks to
technology which has emerged in recent years.Caughlin?s letter expressed surprise the cold case squad has had to apply for six-month extensions since it was formed three years ago.
If the squad is shut down, she and the 64 other families whose missing or dead loved ones on the squad?s radar would lose all hope of justice, she said.?Will our hopes be subject to six-month reviews alongside the
operation of the Historical Homicide Unit?? the letter says. ?This will be yet another difficult emotional rollercoaster ride to endure,
as our hopes for justice hang in the balance.? Cardwell said if ?different techniques? to investigate cold cases arise, he couldn?t say what would happen to the squad. But for now ?there is no current plan to disband it.? The OPP recently introduced a results-driven policing ?accountability framework.? The goal is to better allocate resources to meet the commissioner?s priorities, the 2007 OPP business plan says.
 
Cardwell said the efficiency and success of the squad must be evaluated regularly. "The focus that the commissioner has set out is
we have to show that this is efficient and it's an optimal way of doing business for us and it supports the front line. And the answer
to that is yes it does." There is top-to-bottom review of OPP operations which is reporting this year and questions of whether to expand the squad beyond southern Ontario should be addressed by the end of this year, Cardwell added. ?Are we looking at it? Definitely.?
The OPP Historical Investigations Unit grew out of the solving of the Lynda Shaw case in 2005 under the direction of Det.-Insp. Randy Rosiak. Shaw, a University of Western Ontario engineering student, was raped and murdered in 1990. Her body was found in the bush, four kilometres from her car, which had been abandoned along Highway 401. In 2005, police matched crime scene DNA with DNA the suspect himself had provided years earlier. But her killer committed suicide in 1994 and never faced charges.

Article ID# 873153
http://www.owensoundsuntimes.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=873153&auth=Scott+Dunn
« Last Edit: January 31, 2008, 12:20:37 AM by kindheart »

Chris

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Re: Karen Caughlin (14) - Murder - Sarnia, ON - March 16, 1974
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2008, 11:37:09 PM »
I hope they keep it up. Or merge it with the RCMP who could do a national cold case division. at least it makes the killers feel the heat, and that must be a horrible feeling always wondering if this is the day they get busted.

kindheart

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Re: Karen Caughlin (14) - Murder - Sarnia, ON - March 16, 1974
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2008, 12:30:07 AM »
As far as i am aware, but i may be wrong but i think they can get "hits" on unknowns, but you need the suspects DNA to get break... If one case say from an Windsor B&E enters the system, hoping for a DNA match to a name, and then another from say Leduc related to a homicide does the same-they may get a hit as being the same DNA but have no ones name to match it to.Either way, that creates leads in terms of geography and potential suspects, no matter how many years or miles apart. ;D

National DNA Database cases on profile;
http://www.nddb-bndg.org/cases_e.htm

National DNA Database report;
http://www.nddb-bndg.org/train/docs/annual_report_2006-2007_e.pdf

Karens Voice

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Re: Karen Caughlin (14) - Murder - Sarnia, ON - March 16, 1974
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2008, 10:11:18 AM »
Thank you for your continued and much needed support.  Cold Case families have a battle ahead of us to keep the OPP's Historical Homicide Unit running.  The OPP state the Unit will remain open for at least the next year...then state the Unit may expand...then state it will be subject to efficiency reviews to decide its' fate.  This is called talking in double meaning and getting the press off your ass!  My letter has yet to be responded to by Commissioner Fantino and I am going after a long term commitment from him.  One year in a Cold Case investigation means "nothing."  Investigators in any homicide investigation follow methodical protocols.  For example...while I was home this past summer (2007) to hang Crime Stopper's posters I received alot of tips directly from the public.  These tips are still under investigation and they were received 6-months ago.  I have posted my letter below to help you understand this issue a little better. 

My Letter on Behalf of all Cold Case Victims and Their Families~~~~~
January 23, 2008


Ontario Provincial Police
The Commissioner?s Office
777 Memorial Ave.
Orillia, Ont.  L3V 7V3

Subject:  OPP Historical Homicide Unit ? The Voiceless Victims

Commissioner Fantino:

My name is Kathy Caughlin, I am writing to you regarding the future of the Ontario Provincial Police?s Historical Homicide Investigations Unit. My 14-year-old sister Karen Caughlin is amongst the many victims whose lives were brutally ended at the hands of unidentified killers. My family was never advised the OPP?s Historical Homicide Investigations Unit was a temporary project attached to a 3-year mandate. Needless to say we were emotionally unprepared.  We are very concerned about the recent media release outlining the undefined future of your Cold Case Unit. In the coming months as you examine the worthiness of the Unit; please realize that our hopes for justice hang in the balance.  I feel a grave issue such as this cannot be fairly reviewed without deliberations from the people who?s lives it will have a profound affect on?the survivors of unsolved homicides who live with the daily torment of no accountability and years of endless mourning.

Canada?s New Government has demonstrated tremendous respect for this country?s victims of crime, through the recent appointment of Canada?s first Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, a long overdue investment in victims? support services that will make a significant difference in their Journey for Justice.
In 2005, the Federal government made a prior investment and conducted research into the needs of cold case families to better assist us in our Journey for Justice. A bold acknowledgement to cold case victims and their families who have been riding the back of the justice bus for far to long.  We are a group of people that suffer the most in the land of injustice. The anguish is a life sentence when murderers are still living free as a breeze. We are trapped inside a cage of suspended grief, an experience only comprehendible to those who live it. Justification of ?money? spent, brings no confidence or sense of compassion or significance to voiceless victims and their families in the aftermath of unidentified killers.  We are very troubled that we are about to endure another roadblock in our journey for justice.   
   
Cold Case Investigators are unfairly deemed presumptuous regarding the resolve of these cases when other investigators failed.  There are various mitigating circumstances attached to unsolved homicides.  Whatever the reasons behind a failed investigation, the end result is victimization.  The police are the only people who have the power and resources to change this outcome for the victims who have paid the ultimate price at the hands of their killers and for their families who live in the hell of no resolve. 

Commissioner Fantino, if I may share with you my family?s experience over the course of the last 34-years.  There is positive and negative to what we have experienced but perhaps if both aspects are taken into consideration, it can be used in a beneficial way. The murder of my sister Karen Caughlin has remained unsolved for 34-years, under the control of the Ontario Provincial Police. It is one of the oldest unsolved homicides in the province of Ontario. 

SNAPSHOT:
1) Her case was actively investigated from March of 1974 to 1976.
2) 1977 to 1999 Karen?s case was shelved and no investigative measures were taken.
3) 1999 the OPP began submitting crime scene exhibits to the Toronto Centre of Forensic Science in search of suspect DNA.
4) In October of 2003 the OPP contacts my family after 28-years of silence.
5) In March of 2005 the Toronto Centre of Forensic Science obtained suspect DNA.  This successful outcome took 6 very long years.
6) All avenues, tips and resources have yet to be exhausted after 34-years.

 The number of years attached to unsolved homicides represents a degree of deception to most except for the families who live with the reality of its? true definition. With consideration of how long a cold case was actually actively investigated in conjunction with inactivity; is a reality to only the families who remain in a moment of time controlled by a killer. The outcome for my family is, over a 34-year period Karen?s case has been actively investigated for approximately 2-hours per week. 
I am in agreement that there is a ?limit? to how long police can reasonably spend on cases that may be 15 or more years old.  However, the ?limit? certainly cannot be judged in measurement of years in order for reasonable conclusions to be reached.
Technology is what a lot of these cases have been waiting for yet now it is a cost issue.  Many investigations could have been left by the way side because current crime issues from prior decades took priority?only proving to be the end of the investigation?as in Karen?s case. When technology has proven to heat a cold case because significant evidence is uncovered: are we to expect these important developments will become subject of a back seat investigation?  You have come so far yet you are turning back now?  It doesn?t seem reasonable to take ten steps forward followed by twenty steps backwards.  Are our murdered loved ones becoming a chronic after thought in our justice system? 
     
A vital, crucial phase of solving historical homicides is:  life must be brought back to the victims and the circumstances of the crimes that ended their lives. The public?s assistance is essential to the resolve of cases that have been on ice for decades. This responsibility falls on family members, as it should, for the police certainly do not have the time or funding for this undertaking.  I can advise from the experience, this is an extremely painful and ?timely? process. Families are putting forth tireless efforts resulting in hundreds of TIPS to the investigations. But, we can?t continue to keep our murdered loved ones alive in the public eye, keep moving forward in our journey for justice if the OPP is seriously considering moving backwards in their approach to solving cold cases.
 
My family has previously experienced (2004 to 2005) Karen?s investigation outside the Historical Homicide Unit under the structure of back seat investigating. We know what happens to an investigation when focus, efficiency and precedence are not a requisite in solving Cold Cases. Investigators are only human and there are only so many hours in a day.  TIPS pile up on an officer?s desk because he/she is expected to deal with current crime issues. TIPS are subject to aging along with the investigation itself.   After a significant period of time (months) tipsters are compelled to contact family members with their TIPS because they believe the OPP has lost their information. The ?confidence and trust? the victims? families and the community are supposed to have for the OPP quickly dissolves. The anxiety for families under this type of arrangement is truly beyond words. The degree of stress for assigned investigators must be vast. 

I have enclosed a photo of a child? a client of the Historical Homicide Investigations Unit. If I had obtainable photos of all the cold case victims, they certainly would be included.
Karen was a beautiful 14-year old child. Look at the life in her eyes and the innocence of her smile.  This is what Karen looked like before her killers were finished with her.  Her beaten, broken, crushed 90lb body was dumped in a ditch like a piece of garbage on the night of March 16, 1974, outside the Town of Petrolia, Ontario. Left unrecognizable to her family.  Her killers walked away? went on with life?like she was insignificant. It is unknown at this point whether Karen?s killers have killed again?

Families should not be forced to endure the inefficiency and cruelty of back seat investigations.  The OPP?s Historical Homicide Investigations Unit, in service under the dedication, focus and relentless efforts of the officers who operate it, signifies commemoration for the voiceless men, women and children of undying injustice. Today our ? hopes for resolve? are under the monetary microscope.  If the future of this specialized unit is NO future, the Scale of Justice will once again be tipped towards the advantage of criminals. Families will continue to endure the crippling effects of the unknown, which leaves us with the inability to heal. Unidentified murderers will be calmed and reassured of their continued freedom knowing they are again at the bottom of the justice chain.
 
I am pleading with you, on behalf of all the victims and their families that you permit the men/women of the Historical Homicide Investigations Unit to continue their diligent work to find Justice for our murdered loved ones. We need to know that the Ontario Provincial Police are not giving up, so we can continue on our Journey for Justice.  If the police renounce ?where does that leave us?  Please don?t push us back to the back of the bus or request that we get off at the next stop.

Commissioner Fantino, I would deeply appreciate you addressing this serious issue at your earliest possible convenience.  How will we be notified if our ?hopes? are to be terminated?   This will be yet another difficult emotional roller coaster ride to endure, as our hopes for justice hang in the balance!  If God had an address he would be copied in on this letter. 
 

Sincerely,


Kathy Caughlin

Encl: photo


Cc: Honourable Steve Harper, Prime Minister of Canada
      Honourable Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario
      Honourable Chris Bentley, Ministry of the Attorney General
      Honourable Steve Sullivan, Ombudsman for Victims of Crime
      Honourable Jack Layton, Leader, NDP Party
      Honourable Stephan Dion, Leader, Liberal Party
      Honourable Rick Bartolucci, Minister of Community Safety & Correctional Services
      Honourable John Tory, Leader, P.C. Party
      Honourable Robert Runciman, Leader of the Opposition     
      Mr. Bob Baily, MPP Sarnia Lambton
      Ms. Patricia Davidson, MP Sarnia Lambton
      Your Worship Mike Bradley,Mayor of Sarnia,Chair/Sarnia Police  Commission         
      Mr. Murray Chitra, Chair, Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services     
      Detective Chief Superintendent Bob Goodall, CIB/Ontario Provincial Police
      Detective Superintendent Mark Van Zant, CIB/Ontario Provincial Police
      Detective Insp.Ian Maule, CIB/Case Manager/Historical Homicide Unit, Ontario Provincial Police
      Detective Constable Mike Vorshuk, Historical Homicide Unit, Ontario Provincial Police
      Det-Insp Randy Rosiak, Former Case Manager/Historical Homicide Unit, Ontario Provincial Police
      Detective Constable Mark Dew, Sarnia Lambton Crime Stoppers, Ontario Provincial Police
      Mr. Gary Rosenfeldt, Director/Victims of Violence     
      Mr. Heidi Illingworth, Executive Director/Canadian Resource Center for Victims of Crime     
      Ms. Colleen Simms, Executive Director/Victim Services, Sarnia Lambton     
      The Sun Times, Owen Sound, Ontario
      Sarnia Observer
      Sarnia This Week
      London Free Press
      Toronto Sun
      Toronto Star     
      Globe and Mail
      Windsor Star
     

Chris

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Re: Karen Caughlin (14) - Murder - Sarnia, ON - March 16, 1974
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2008, 12:33:44 AM »
Wow, what a great job! Yes this is a very important subject and I am so glad you took the iniative to send that to all those people. It would be a huge disappointment if they shut this down for it would demonstrate a lack of faith or concern for the cases that site cold.

If anything, they should EXPAND this and fund it better so evidence can be processed in weeks rather then years.

Thanks for posting this here, keep up updated when you can.

Chris

Carol-Lynn

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Re: Karen Caughlin (14) - Murder - Sarnia, ON - March 16, 1974
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2008, 10:07:01 AM »
Hi Karen welcome to the board,I am glad you joined and told us your story.I wish you all the best in your fight.

Karens Voice

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Re: Karen Caughlin (14) - Murder - Sarnia, ON - March 16, 1974
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2008, 06:51:33 AM »
Thanks Carol-Lynn for your warm welcome and your best wishes.  This is a very common mistake but I am Kathy, Karen's sister.  Our fight will truly end the day Karen's life is honoured through Justice!  Then my family can finish grieving for her and say goodbye....until we meet again. 
Karen's killers will never do the amount of time inside a prison, compared to the prison my family has been in since Karen's horrible death. An eye for an eye would be acceptable!



Carol-Lynn

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Re: Karen Caughlin (14) - Murder - Sarnia, ON - March 16, 1974
« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2008, 10:39:52 AM »
And a tooth for a tooth.I Pray you will find justice for her and your family.

Karens Voice

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Re: Karen Caughlin (14) - Murder - Sarnia, ON - March 16, 1974
« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2009, 06:36:03 AM »
Just thought I would let everyone know especially the people who have unsolved murder cases in the province of Ontario that the OPP's Historical Homicide Unit has and continues to expand through out the province.  This is great news for those of us that are "counting" on the Unit to stay active.  Due to present day crime issues this is the only chance we have to one day get "Justice" for our loved ones whose lives were brutally ended at the hands of killers who still live free from accountability.  The Unit has already experienced some successes and continues to focus on cold case victims throughout Ontario within OPP jurisdiction.
 
My advise to anyone who has a murdered loved one is to persist and push for Justice with the investigating police depts.  Do what you have to do generate TIPS in your cases...hang posters....web-sites...etc.  My family has posted over 8000 posters over 4-years and the TIPS are still coming in.  Unfortunately we have not yet received the ONE TIP that will end our "Journey for Justice for my sister Karen.  It is a horrible life long roller coaster ride to be on, not knowing what happened to someone you loved and the person or persons responsible have gone on with their own cruel, miserable existence.  As Mr. Manion, in the Kathy Wilson case chose to do with his life and now his own children will suffer because of it.  My prayers go out to the innocent lives that will be affected by these outcomes but JUSTICE must prevail for the innocent lives taken at the hands of cold blooded killers. 

My family will not give up until Karen's killers are held accountable!!!!

Chris

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Re: Karen Caughlin (14) - Murder - Sarnia, ON - March 16, 1974
« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2009, 01:06:09 PM »
Quote
My advise to anyone who has a murdered loved one is to persist and push for Justice with the investigating police depts

Good point. I agree that this does help get cases solved. Good work!

Nemesis

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Re: Karen Caughlin (14) - Murder - Sarnia, ON - March 16, 1974
« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2010, 01:57:19 PM »
CIB Unsolved Investigations: Karen Caughlin

Quote
Karen was 14 yrs old at the time of her death. She was a grade 9 student at Sarnia Collegiate Institute and Technical School in Sarnia. Described at 5 ft 5 in tall (167cm) and weighing 106 lbs (46kgs), she had long (mid-back) dark brown hair and hazel eyes. She was wearing a pair of GWG blue jeans and an off-white sweater, with a Mickey Mouse watch on her wrist.

Ontario Provincial Police Criminal Investigation Branch

Sleuth

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Re: Karen Caughlin (14) - Murder - Sarnia, ON - March 16, 1974
« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2010, 02:59:11 PM »
I'm putting up a picture of this once vibrant girl to remind everyone what the world lost when someone took it upon themselves to commit a heinous act. If anyone out there knows something, even after all these years, that little something that keeps recurring to you, it means something! so please pick up the phone and call someone who can take what you know and fit it into the puzzle pieces. A killer has gone about his life, make someone accountable for their unmitigated actions.


Chris

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Re: Karen Caughlin (14) - Murder - Sarnia, ON - March 16, 1974
« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2010, 07:18:52 PM »
Thanks for the link.

Nemesis

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Re: Karen Caughlin (14) - Murder - Sarnia, ON - March 16, 1974
« Reply #14 on: February 07, 2010, 11:49:52 AM »
Rose Gardens was located on the west side of Canatra Park. The rink closed in 1974.

Karen was dropped off in front of 238 Brock Street South. Karen lived at 171 Brock Street South.

Brock Street South, Sarnia, Ontario

This is what the weather conditions likely were the day Karen was murdered.

Hourly Data Report for March 16, 1974

OPP has released photographs and maps regarding this unsolved murder.