Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Murder by the Book: The Murder of Karyn Slover

Karen Disappears

Around 10:00 p.m. on Friday, September 27, 1996, a police officer came across an abandoned black Pontiac Bonneville alongside westbound I-72, near the Pima County line in central Illinois. The engine was still running, the driver's side door was wide open and the headlights were on. On the passenger's side the policeman observed bags from a fast food restaurant and some other items lying on the seat, and a woman's purse on the floor near some clods of dirt. A driver's license found among the items belonged to a twenty-three-year-old woman named Karyn Slover, but the car itself was registered to a David Swann.

Karyn Slover
Karyn Slover

Police officers contacted Swann, and he confirmed the car was his. He told them that his girlfriend, Karyn, had borrowed it to pick up her three-year-old son, Kolten, and then to go dress-shopping at a mall south of Decatur for the wedding she was to attend with Swann the following day. He himself had been to the rehearsal dinner, he said, and he could not give any reason why his car had been abandoned northeast of Decatur. Swann said that the disheveled condition of the car's interior resembled the state in which he had seen it on Friday afternoon in the newspaper office lot.

Swann called Karyn's parents, who said she had called them when she had left work, but they had not heard from her since. They were concerned. They then called Karyn's former in-laws, who took care of Kolten. Although Kolten was there, they said they had seen no sign of Karyn, who had neither shown up nor called. They had figured she was just late.

David Swann filed a missing-persons report, initiating an official investigation, and more than 3,000 flyers featuring Karyn's photo were posted and circulated throughout central Illinois. Police questioned Karyn's co-workers at the offices of the Decatur Herald & Review, where she worked as an advertising rep, and they said that she had left just after 5:00 p.m. that Friday. No one had seen or heard from her since. Police learned that Karyn had a cell phone which was not among the personal effects left in Swann's car, leading them to initiate a check of the phone records. Several acquaintances confirmed Karyn's plan to go to the Hickory Point Mall in Forsyth for a dress for a wedding, and that she had expected to pick up her son first. Her disappearance seemed a complete mystery.


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