Follow-up #IV Karen Caughlin

A compilation: 

A lot of information has come in either by email or comments that have not been posted for good reasons. However, all those bits and pieces of information fill in some of the blanks we have in the posts and clarify other issues. I have made a compilation below:

Re the 1970/71 Chrysler, Plum Crazy/purple car:

Remember that no one saw this car and yes, it could have mistaken for blue or black because it was dark outside. There were paint chips found embedded in Karen’s sweater and coat. That’s why there has been a focus on such a car.

The Toronto Forensic Lab and Chrysler Canada determined that the paint chips were from this make models, year and colour of car. It was also determined that the paint chips were that of factory paint used at the Windsor Chrysler plant during these years (1970/1971.) So, the car could have been made and or imported to the USA but the OPP did not extend any inquiries into the USA. They also did not alert the USA border to what kind of car they were looking for.

Also, local police ignored the fact about kids racing in Sarnia and Port Huron over the weekends. Now how crucial do you think that was to Karen’s case? Perhaps the outcome would have been different if OPP would have alerted the USA authorities and the media to the year, make, model and colour of car they were looking for. Not doing that for one year provided some people with plenty of time to depose of the car involved, don’t you agree?

Re: did the OPP alert body shops and body repair shops:

There are different body repair shops in business in 1974 and no one from OPP ever interviewed them. One particular body shop stated he dealt a lot with muscle cars back in the 70’s. Another in Petrolia (where Karen was dumped) stated he was never interviewed either.

Re: factory paint or specialty paint:

Specialty paint jobs on vehicles outside of the years that the colour was designated by Chrysler, were called: Code 999 special ordered paint. Behind the front bumper would be “Code 999.”  So, if in 1972, 1973, or 1974, I wanted a Chrysler car painted Plum Crazy (which was only offered in 1970 and 1971) I could order this at the time I ordered the car. This car would then be labeled Code 999 special order.

The car is painted in this colour right at the plant so it is in fact “factory paint.” This is THE reason why those chips found on Karen should have been run through the RCMP Paint Chip Data Base to make sure OPP was looking for the right year car. What if the paint composition showed up another year car, up until 1974 of course? Those 1974 cars would have been released from the plant sometime late in 1973.

Re: Did Mr. Kells see the car or did he hear how many doors close? 

There was a vehicle in front of the Kells’ family house around 5:30am, March 16, 1974. Mr. Kells heard a car running in front of his house. He’s on a country side road so it would be pitching dark out there and very quiet. The car turned its lights on just as Kells turned his porch light on and the car drove back towards where Karen’s body was found.

Re: was the original crime scene ever found?

No original crime scene was ever found, where Karen was killed.

Re: where any areas not searched?

The near-by Indian Reserve was not searched either. Burnt out cars were normal on the Reserve back in the 70’s.

Re: was a toxicology test performed on Karen’s body?

The toxicology test showed no drugs or alcohol in Karen’s body. There was also no food found in her stomach.

Re: were Karen’s hands bagged and examined during the autopsy? 

Unknown, still digging. My guess? No.

Re: was there any indication that Karen put up a fierce fight and that in that fight, her jacket and shoes came off?

Karen had no defensive wounds. This could mean she was caught off guard and clubbed over the head which would be consistent with her head injuries or, she was rendered unconscious and thus unable to defend herself.

Re: Karen’s exact height and what platform shoes would have added

Maybe 2” to Karen’s height.

Re: Karen’s purse, was anything missing, and was the purse tested with modern technology?

The purse was re-examined in 2007. No prints were retrievable. The purse was laid out in a ditch under very moist and light snow conditions.

Don’t know if the sweater inside her purse was ever examined for trace evidence, still digging.


  1. What a shame body shops were never questioned. That was a huge gaffe on the part of the police. Same is true for not checking out the races nearby.

  2. Some body shops were questioned but definitely not all in the area. And yes, the races should have been checked. This is indeed a major flaw in the investigation.

    I’d like to add that all do-it-yourself car washes that provided under-carriage power wash options, should have been checked as well.

  3. Miriam Said says:

    If it was a hit and run then the car/truck would most likely have had dents in caused by the impact and needed work done on it.

    With regards to the races at the time…would any patrons have old photographs of the races/cars that took place or paraded before the races…There may be a photograph with the suspect car in it and/or it’s owners alongside it, possibly showing any damage as well.

  4. It would be good if an independent investigator could review the case and the evidence and see what all may have been missed. It is always possible someone new may spot something others have decided didn’t mean anything.

  5. AGREED! I fully support an independent review of Karen’s case. There are too many gaps in the timeline, too many unexplained facts, and technology has changed. Everyone involved should be re-interviewed even if they were not deemed suspects back then.

  6. I watched a show last night about an old cold case that was solved a couple of decades later. The guy that killed the family (all but one child was killed) went on to kill again and again as well as raping countless women. They had suspected the guy but they had nothing to tie him to the case or so they thought. It turns out they had a key piece of evidence all along that tied him directly to the family’s murder but not one person had ever thought to ask anyone about it.

  7. Miriam Said says:

    I’m still puzzled by the hit and run before she was killed. She was with her boyfriend when a blue truck hit her, bruising her. Why did this happen and was it documented by a doctor as she had bruising to her arm. Did they tell anyone about this after it happened as I feel it is an important part of the story that hasn’t been looked at closely enough. Could this be the same person/people that killed Karen? Were there any other witnesses to this incident?

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