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    Karen Marie Mitchell (16) - Eureka CA, 1997

    Missing Since: November 25, 1997 from Eureka, California
    Classification: Endangered Missing
    Date Of Birth: November 30, 1980
    Age: 16 years old
    Height and Weight: 5'5, 130 pounds
    Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian female. Sandy brown hair, blue/green eyes. Mitchell has pierced ears. Her hair was neck-length at the time of her disappearance.
    Clothing/Jewelry Description: A long-sleeved tan shirt, dark brown baggy-style corduroy pants and buckled tan leather shoes.

    Details of Disappearance

    Mitchell was on holiday vacation from high school on November 25, 1997 in Eureka, California. She departed from her place of employment, the Coastal Family Development Center, during the afternoon hours. Mitchell's aunt, Annie Casper, was her legal guardian and owned a store inside Bayshore Mall. The shopping center was in the 3300 block of Broadway Street, approximately one mile from Mitchell's place of employment. She briefly visited her aunt's business before departing from the mall at approximately 2:45 p.m. Mitchell was last seen walking towards West Sonoma Street shortly afterwards. She has never been heard from again. She was carrying a Nalgene water bottle at the time of her disappearance.

    A witness stated that Mitchell may have entered an unidentified four-door 1976 to 1978 sedan, which was possibly a Ford Grenada, a Mercury Monarch, or a Nissan. The vehicle is described as light blue in color, with California license plates and "Eureka" imprinted on the rear plate's frame. The driver of the car is described as a Caucasian male, approximately 60 to 70 years old, with balding light gray or sandy blonde hair. The unidentified man had green or gray eyes and a large-sized nose that appeared to have been previously broken. He had a small build and wore eyeglasses. The driver was wearing a long-sleeved button-down light blue shirt. Sketches of both the driver and vehicle are posted below this case summary. The driver is wanted for questioning as a possible witness in Mitchell's case. The witness claimed that the car pulled across Broadway Street and nearly hit him before stopping for a girl matching Mitchell's description.

    Authorities identified a vehicle similar to the car reported by the witness shortly after Mitchell vanished. The owner passed a polygraph exam and was cleared of any potential involvement in her case.

    Casper said that her niece planned to attend Humboldt State University in 1998. She said that Mitchell was interested in politics, education and environmental issues. Mitchell is described as an intelligent and responsible. Investigators do not believe she left the area of her own accord.

    Confessed murderer Wayne Adam Ford, who killed several women in California during the 1990s, denied any involvement in Mitchell's disappearance. His photo is posted below this case summary. Ford turned himself into authorities one year after Mitchell vanished. He has never been charged in connection with her case.

    Robert Durst apparently visited Casper's store several times in March 1998, four months after Mitchell disappeared. Robert's first wife, Kathleen Durst, disappeared from New York in 1982. Her case remains unsolved and Robert is considered the prime suspect, although he has never been charged in connection with her case. Robert was charged with the 2001 Texas homicide of Morris Black. He claimed he murdered Black in self-defense, and was acquitted in 2003. Investigators looked into the possibility that Robert was in the Eureka area at the time of Mitchell's disappearance, but he has never been charged with any involvement. Ford and Robert's photos are posted below this case summary.

    Investigators announced that they had received a "new, substantial" lead in Mitchell's case in 2004. Afterwards they began searching an area on Hilfiker Lane in Eureka with cadaver dogs. The site is often camped on by transients. It is the same place where the body of Matthew Anton Large, 22, was found in February 2003. Large disappeared from Huntington Beach, California in 2001; his case is not thought to be related to Mitchell's. Investigators would not give details about the new lead but stated that they believed two people were involved in Mitchell's apparent abduction. Her case remains unsolved.

    Investigating Agency
    If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
    Eureka Police Department


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    Last edited by KateB; 05-17-2015 at 06:30 PM. Reason: repair url tag.

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