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  1. #1

    OR - Karen Whiteside, 16, Eugene, 21 March 1978

    This has been all over the news today!!! I pray this crime gets solved and the POS is arrested!!!



    On March 21, 1978, Karen Whiteside was strangled while walking to her friends house. Janitors found the 16-year-old's body at Fairfield Elementary School the next morning.

    Roth and Detective Mel Thompson took over the case in 2005, returning to the boxes of evidence whenever they had time.

    "It's different because we were both born and raised in the area," said Roth. "We can both remember when this happened."

    Solving a crime is like solving a puzzle, according to Thompson.

    They flipped through the dusty binders, passed their eyes over crime scene photos, looking for that missing piece. They may have found what they were looking for.

    When they first took on the case, Roth and Thompson reviewed the evidence independently. Both grew suspicious of one person--a male who knew Whiteside. Police interviewed him as part of the original investigation.

    However, there wasn't much more to go on.

    Then KVAL aired a story about Whiteside's unsolved murder in June, as part of a piece on EPD's search for cold case volunteers. Afterward, Roth and Thompson received tips confirming their suspicions.

    "That generated some some information from the public that validated our suspicions of this person," said Roth.

    After receiving that new information, Thompson returned to the Whiteside evidence. While reviewing the same police reports, personal artifacts and crime scene evidence, Thompson made a major discovery in a crime scene photo.

    "He saw something that's been in the same photo for 30 years, that everyone's looked at," said Roth, adding it is fairly innocuous.

    Police won't say what that item is or if it is the murder weapon, but will confirm the item was found at the crime scene.

    Detectives have submitted it for DNA testing.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Wow, this sounds promising for sure. I am very curious now as to what they saw. Hopefully this will be what they need to bring the perp to justice.

    Thanks for the link.


  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by TallCoolOne View Post
    Wow, this sounds promising for sure. I am very curious now as to what they saw. Hopefully this will be what they need to bring the perp to justice.

    Thanks for the link.

    You're welcome! I wish we could get some crime photo pics on some of these cold cases. They could blot out the graphic stuff and let us sleuth the backgrounds, etc. You never know what a different pair of eyes might see!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    How extraordinary! I hope they solve this through DNA. That would be fantastic!

  5. #5


    Whiteside’s body was found on March 22, 1978, at Fairfield Elementary School in northwest Eugene. She was last seen the evening before when she left her nearby home to walk to a friend’s house.

    The case has stymied detectives ever since.

    Police at one point named a convicted murderer, Manuel Cortez, as a prime suspect, but no evidence positively linking him to the Whiteside case was ever released.

    Then in 2005, Eugene police Detectives Jeff Roth and Mel Thompson took another look. After examining the evidence independently, both of them came up with “one person that there were just a lot of unanswered questions about,” Roth said.

    He described the person as an acquaintance of Whiteside’s at the time of her murder.

    Additional information supporting their theory came in earlier this year when Eugene police announced they were forming a cold case squad to look over old, unsolved cases. The squad hasn’t been formed yet, but police cited the Whiteside case as one they want to revisit and that brought in some new information.

    But what may seal the case is the ability to run a DNA test on evidence that may have been overlooked in the original investigation. Roth said the break came when Thompson was looking over old crime scene photos and spotted something that at the time probably didn’t stand out.

    “If you just look at the photos, it looks like an innocuous item,” Roth said.

    The detectives won’t say what the item is, but they’ve sent it to the state police crime lab for DNA testing. It may be the end of the month before the results are available, but Roth said they are hopeful the wait will be worth it.

    “If our theory is correct about the evidence and how it was used, there’s a greater than likely chance our suspect’s DNA is on it,” he said.

    If so, Roth said that evidence will be enough for them to make an arrest. He said the “person of interest” is not in prison but is still living in Oregon and his whereabouts are known.

    Roth did not entirely rule out the possibility that Cortez was involved, but he said the evidence they’re pursuing now “makes it hard for us to still focus” on him as a suspect. Cortez is serving a life sentence in the Oregon State Penitentiary for the brutal torture, rape and asphyxiation of two 11-year-old girls in Ashland in 1979.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    LOL geez could they be any more vague and tempting in their wording??!! Of course I understand why they can't say what they know, I wouldn't expect them to, but man, it just has one on the edge of their seat!
    Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.---Patrick Moynihan
    Living in the

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    I hope they really have something and aren't just trying to flush out their suspect.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2007

    There was a better one from the days immediately following but I can't seem to find it again. I'll keep looking.
    Last edited by Zanko; 08-08-2009 at 02:17 PM. Reason: add a note

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    From this old article, Karen was described as very petite. The rumour at the time, was that she was found bound and gagged- if she was small, why would the perp have to do that, even if she was considered athletic? Karen sometimes could be hot-headed according to the article, wondering if perp might have been a female?


    Karen Whiteside
    Last edited by dotr; 03-30-2016 at 01:36 AM.

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