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 Strangled Bible Lady Clutched a Bizarre Clue

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Moloko
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Age : 77
Location : Whitechapel

PostSubject: Strangled Bible Lady Clutched a Bizarre Clue   Fri May 14, 2010 2:09 am


The case which follows is a classic whodunit from anyone's point of view, from the avid mystery reader to the frus­trated investigators who have spent more than a year working, day and night, try­ing to unravel the mysterious clues that might point them towards a potential sus­pect in a most unusual, seemingly sense­less, killing. This case is by far the most baffling one this writer has encountered in the many years spent investigating such matters.

Eunice Karr, 74, was a religious, God-fearing woman who went to church every Sunday and read from the Bible daily. Some would say she was fanatical; others, those who knew her well, simply said that she had strong, deep-seated reli­gious convictions. At least one person, her killer, felt she made intrusions into and moral judgments about areas she knew nothing of, namely sexual prefer­ence, all in the name of God and religion. It should be noted that only her killer knows the precise reason Eunice Karr was killed, and that the theory outlined in this article was arrived at from the careful study of evidence left at the crime scene, some of which the killer or killers went to great lengths to provide for the investi­gators. Here's what happened.

On Saturday, July 28, 1984, Eunice Karr arose at her usual time, after which she took care of the routine chores in and around her single-level home, located in the 4700 block of Northeast 100th Ave­nue in Portland. Oregon, a quiet, well- kept neighborhood. The house Karr oc­cupied was a rental, dark gray with white trim, but she nonetheless took pride in it and kept it up as if she had owned it. To help her with the household chores, Eu­nice Karr occasionally paid two neigh­borhood boys to do yard work and minor repairs.

That night, at approximately 7:00 p.m., the two boys who occasionally did chores stopped by Eunice Karr's house to say hello and to ask if there was anything they could do. When they walked up the front walk to the door, they hesitated when they noticed through the outer screen that the front door was ajar. Since it was still daylight and the middle of summer, the boys reasoned that it really wasn't all that unusual for someone to leave their door ajar, particularly since the evening sun tended to make staying indoors nearly unbearable.

They knocked, but received no an­swer. They knocked again, louder, and called out the woman's name. Still re­ceiving no reply, the two youths entered Eunice's home, and slowly made their way from room to room. When they reached the bedroom they found Eunice Karr, but not in the condition they'd ex­pected or hoped to find her in. She was grotesquely sprawled on her bed, quite dead. One look was all it took for the youths to realize that she had been mur­dered, a fact which prompted them to turn on their heels and run quickly out of the house. When they reached their home, the boys told their parents of their macabre find; and the parents, in turn, notified the Multnomah County Sheriff's Department.

When a team of sheriff's department homicide detectives arrived at Karr's home a short time later, they were met by the two shaken teenage boys who found the woman's body. The youths, accom­panied by their parents, told the investi­gators how they'd come across the body, and assured the detectives that they had left everything, including the corpse, un­disturbed.

The detectives discovered Eunice Karr's body, just as they had been told they would, sprawled on the bed in her bedroom. The body was bloody, as if it had sustained a violent beating, and bore many of the tell-tale signs of death by strangulation, such as a grotesquely pro­truding and discolored tongue, froth mixed with blood around the mouth and markings about the neck area. The wom­an's body had been bound, but detectives would not reveal what parts of the body (hands, feet or both) had been bound, nor would they reveal what type of material was used to tie her up. It was important, they explained, that certain details re­main known only to the police and the killer(s), as that information could prove valuable during the interrogation of a potential suspect — provided, of course, that a suspect was apprehended. Several other details, however, some of which proved quite bizarre, were released.



Among those bizarre details was the fact that detectives, when they closely examined the crime scene, discovered a small scrap of paper next to Karr's body. It read Romans I and II, the significance of which was not immediately known to the investigators. However, also lying on the bed near the woman's body was a stack of books, one of which was a Bible. Instead of looking up the passages right away with the Bible at hand, the detec­tives instead made a note to do it later. It was possible, they reasoned, that the Bi­ble on the bed, as well as the other books, bore the perpetrator's fingerprints, evi­dence which they certainly didn't want to jeopardize through hasty reactions and curiosity.

When the deputy medical examiner arrived at the scene, he briefly examined Karr's body and determined that she had been killed earlier that day, at least sev­eral hours prior to the body's discovery. He also concurred with the detectives' observation that she had been strangled. He said that additional details may be learned from the autopsy.

As the victim's body was being placed on a gurney, preparatory to being trans­ported to the county morgue, the investi­gators discovered a small white paper cross that had been placed upside down in the palm of Eunice Karr's left hand, a startling discovery that raised several questions. Was the cross placed in the victim's hand by the victim herself? Or had it been placed there by her killer? What significance did it have, if any? And why was it upside down? Did the latter fact indicate something satanic, perhaps a ritual? The detectives pon­dered over their many questions, but did not quickly arrive at any sound and satis­fying answers.

An inventory of the victim's property and possessions indicated that several credit cards may have been missing, but detectives could not quickly substantiate that suspicion. Other than that possibili­ty, everything else seemed in order, making robbery seem a slim possibility for motive.

As the investigation continued, detec­tives interviewed numerous people, in­cluding Eunice Karr's relatives, friends, acquaintances and neighbors, all of whom provided them with many inter­esting details and aspects of the woman's life and habits. Among the things they learned and were able to release to the public was the fact that Karr liked to make daily trips to downtown Portland via the bus, where she often ate lunch at a moderately priced restaurant. She was known to stay out for hours at a time, walking the streets of downtown Port­land, often stopping at a park on West Burnside Street where she engaged in people-watching. The area she was known to frequent is largely inhabited by transient types, many of whom are homeless, and detectives eventually as­certained that Karr often talked with many of the people she encountered. But she always made it home safely, usually at or near the same time, without encountering any trouble from the strangers she met.

Did Eunice Karr know the person who killed her? The detectives pondered the question. Was it possible that she met her killer during one of these downtown ex­cursions? It seemed possible, and was at least worth checking out. But what would have been the killer's motive? An­ger? Revenge? Or had Eunice simply met up with a psychopath bent on mur­der? Of course, the detectives had to address the possibility that perhaps Eu­nice Karr's killer was a complete strang­er who had targeted the elderly woman for death for whatever reasons. Possibly, it was someone who had perhaps burgla­rized her home-and had not expected her to be there at the time, in which case she would have had to have left her house unlocked, as there were no signs of forced entry. Suffice it to say, there were many viable possibilities that had to be considered, enough to keep the detec­tives busy for months.

The results of the autopsy, performed by the Oregon State Medical Examiner's Office in Portland the next day, revealed that Karr had sustained injuries to the head and had sustained three broken ribs, both indicative that she had been severely beaten. It was also revealed that postmor­tem lividity, which are dull, blue discol­orations that appear on the undermost parts of the body shortly after death due to the gravitation of blood, was present in more than one anatomical location of her body, a strong indication that the victim's body had been moved long after death. Additional pathological tests confirmed that Eunice Karr's body had been moved at least eight hours after she had been killed. It was a fact that was not only shocking, but one that raised many new questions as well.



Had the body been moved by her kill­er? If so, why would anyone, the detec­tives wondered, return to the scene of a crime and risk being discovered'? Fur­thermore, the detectives wondered, had the white paper cross been placed upside down in the victim's hand at the time the body was moved'? Or had it been placed in her hand right after she had been killed? These were, of course, questions which have answers. Unfortunately, however, the investigators were unable to uncover the truth while the trail was still hot and could only theorize as to the answers.

Among those theories during the ini­tial stages of the investigation was the possibility that the killer had left some article or item inside Karr's home, per­haps something that could lead investi­gators to his or her identity, and the killer had returned to retrieve the item and to leave behind additional evidence to serve to confuse the investigators, such as the white paper cross. But why, they won­dered, had the killer found it necessary to move the body, if it was in fact the killer who did so'? Needless to say, it was not an often-encountered occurrence in po­lice work, and at this point the stymied investigators were understandably reluc­tant to speculate as to why the corpse had been moved, much less by whom, until additional facts were known.

In the meantime, sleuths learned that the message found next to Karr's body on the bed, which came from The Book of Romans, had been written by the victim's own hand! When the investigators looked up the passages in a Bible, they learned that portions of it condemned lesbianism and homosexuality and made references regarding those who pass judgment on others.

Needless to say, the biblical passages raised some new questions about the case, which had been confusing enough without them. However, the detectives quickly learned that Eunice Karr had not been a lesbian. Her friends and relatives attested to that fact, as did her strong religious convictions. But was it possi­ble, the detectives wondered, that she had known a lesbian or perhaps a male homosexual? Someone she had perhaps met during one of her trips downtown and had befriended, possibly had even preached to against homosexual acti­vities? Sleuths agreed that anything was possible, but what they really needed were answers instead of more questions. With that in mind, they hit the streets, not only in Karr's own neighbor­hood but downtown as well.

At this point in the investigation, resi­dents in Karr's neighborhood were be­coming accustomed to detectives and sheriff's deputies knocking on their doors in search of additional informa­tion. That's not to say, of course, that people had gotten over the murder; quite the contrary. Most residents were upset, visibly shaken that such a brutal murder, or any murder for that matter, could have occurred in their quiet neighborhood. Nonetheless, the residents were more than cooperative with the sheriff's de­partment officials, as they were just as anxious as the detectives to have the kill­er or killers apprehended and brought to justice.

During the early phase of the investi­gation, detectives learned from subse­quent interviews with Karr's neighbors that Karr had been seen in the company of a young female several days prior to her death. It was not known if Karr had taken the young woman in to live with her or whether the young woman was merely a frequent visitor during Karr's final days. It was said, however, that Karr had not previously had overnight visitors or boarders. No one could say for certain whether the young woman had actually stayed overnight with Karr but, following the interviews, sheriff's detec­tives had a good description of the young female.

The woman was described as 18 or 19 years old, 5 feet 4 to 5 feet 5 inches tall with a medium build, approximately 120 to 130 pounds, on the "husky" side, a full face with smooth clear complexion, straight sandy-brown shoulder-length hair, small eyes with no make-up, a "button" nose, and small, thin lips. She was last seen carrying a small gray back­pack.

"The woman we are looking for was seen at Karr's home several days (prior to Karr's death)," said Deputy John T. Drum, spokesman for the sheriff's de­partment. "She was known to have gone to the bank with (the victim). We don't know who the woman is. She is not nec­essarily a suspect, but we would like to talk with her." Drum added that detec­tives learned Karr had been trying to sell her automobile prior to her death, and detectives hoped that maybe the young woman they were seeking had seen or heard something important that might aid them. Drum did not say whether or not Karr had been successful in her attempts to sell her automobile.

In the days that followed, sheriff's de­partment detectives ran down one fruit­less lead after another, each time with their backs against a brick wall. As they poured over the police reports and took new ones over the phone regarding the case, they reflected that there had been 130 homicides in Oregon in 1984 includ­ing Karr's death, most of which had been solved. But as one day turned into anoth­er with no suspect identified nor in custo­dy, the investigators began to feel as if this case might go unsolved if they didn't receive a lucky break soon. However, much to their dismay, leads slowed to a trickle and finally stopped.

Then, nearly a month after Karr's death, detectives received an anonymous letter from two Portland women who claimed to be lesbians, and the Karr case was off and running again. In the letter, the women stated that they had rented a room to another lesbian named Abby An­derson, after which they had discovered some interesting things about the Eunice Karr homicide. One evening, after An­derson had gone out, the women said they made a decision to search her room, during which they uncovered some evi­dence, or so they thought.

During the search, they found a shoe box among Anderson's belongings. When they opened the box, the women said they found several newspaper clip­pings of articles regarding Karr's murder on which "Ha Ha" was written across the top of one of the articles. The wom­en, in subsequent anonymous telephone calls to the sheriff's detectives, also said they found a cheap bracelet inside the box which they said they thought had been taken from Eunice Karr. At the urging of the detectives, the women mailed the items to the sheriff's depart­ment. The items were subsequently ana­lyzed for clues, but no findings, if any, were made public.

A few days later, an ad appeared in the classified section of The Oregonian which caught the attention of the investigators. The ad read: "Silver bracelet, coins, and news clippings taken from my shoebox, return for Muff. Abby." Needless to say, sheriff's detectives considered the ad an interesting new twist to the unusually bizarre case, and they wasted no time in checking out the new lead. At this point, it was vitally important that they learn the identity of the two anonymous lesbians who had been tipping them off and as much about Abby Ander­son as possible — provided, of course, that she indeed existed.

After checking with The Oregonian, the detectives learned that someone named Mike Moore, or at least someone using that name, had placed the ad in the newspaper. The billing files at the news­paper office listed his address as 4709 N.E. 100th Avenue, directly across the street from Eunice Karr's home! Check­ing further, the detectives learned that the address did not actually exist. The only building across from Eunice Karr's house was a garage and a corner house whose address faced the cross street.

So who was Mike Moore? The detec­tives wondered. And who were the so- called lesbians who had placed the anon­ymous telephone calls, wrote the letter and sent the items taken from Abby An­derson's shoebox? Detectives relentless­ly tried to uncover the identities of the two women, all to no avail. And who was Abby Anderson? Did she really ex­ist?

It occurred to the detectives that Mike Moore and Abby Anderson were possi­bly fictitious names, and that the sleuths had been made the butt-end of a sick joke perpetrated by the two lesbians for rea­sons known only to them. But they had to take it all seriously, at least until they could prove otherwise, as they were dealing with a brutal, unnerving murder of an innocent old lady and they desper­ately wanted to bring her killer or killers to justice.

At another point in the investigation, the detectives received another tele­phone call from the two lesbians. The probers made additional inquiries into the ad placed in The Oregonian, and they asked the two women what Muff referred to. Muff, they explained, was the name of their dog, which had mysteriously dis­appeared shortly after the women sent sheriff's detectives the contents of Abby Anderson's shoebox. Although an at­tempt was made to trace the telephone call, the callers hung up before the trace could be completed, ultimately leaving the identity of the two women a mystery. It was the last telephone call the detec­tives ever received from the two women, and clues stopped coming in altogether.

Days quickly turned into weeks and weeks into months as the homicide probers worked on this difficult case, achiev­ing, much to their dismay, no significant results. They had been unable to deter­mine whether or not Abby Anderson and Mike Moore were fictitious or real per­sons, or, if real, whether they were two individuals or one and the same persons. They had also failed in their attempts to learn the identities of the two lesbians who had been so busy making telephone calls and writing letters. In short, all indi­cations were that the case would go un­solved. And because of a burgeoning work load and manpower shortages, the case, although it remained officially open, had to be temporarily shelved until additional clues and evidence was uncov­ered or surfaced.

The case remained more or less dor­mant until the spring of 1985 when De­tective Sgt. Rod Englert asked to take a crack at it. Englert, an authority on un­solved murders, is in charge of the sher­iff's department's Scientific Investiga­tions Unit and had, over the past 10 years, solved six "unsolvable" murders with the help of his partners.

Englert considers the Karr homicide a "classic" case which depicts the many- faceted problems such a case produces. The trim, salt-and-pepper-bearded de­tective who, at age 43, has had 22 years experience in law enforcement, settled into the chair behind his desk in Room 207 at the sheriff's department headquar­ters and began a methodical study of the Karr case. He requested as his partner, this time out, Deputy Chris Peterson, 41. Although an experienced undercover cop who has posed as a heroin dealer and played a major role in breaking up a crime ring operating in the Northeast, Englert chose Peterson as his partner not because of his experience in dealing with homicides — which had been very lit­tle — but because he is "extremely street­wise," an attribute Englert felt would be of particular help because of its connec­tions to the homosexual community.

Together, the two men spent days go­ing over the Karr file, formulating theo­ries and trying to make some sense out of a seemingly senseless killing. They made lists of people they would interview, which grew to an enormous 400 or more names, and studied the evidence uncov­ered at the crime scene as well as that which was sent to the sheriff's depart­ment via the mail. They paid particular attention to the fact that Karr was ex­tremely religious while at the same time, as described by the woman's relatives, somewhat senile, and they concentrated on Karr's frequent trips to the downtown area.

During the course of their investiga­tion, Englert and Peterson hit the streets of Portland and became familiar with the homosexual community, particularly the lesbian community. The tips they re­ceived also brought them into close con­tact with burglars, drug dealers and male and female prostitutes, some of whom Karr may or may not have inadvertently came into contact with while in the down­town area. The two detectives finally concluded that Eunice Karr met her killer either in the restaurant she frequented or in the park where she regularly talked with strangers.

"No one goes in and kills an old lady for no reason," said Englert. "There was no dope involved, no money and nothing was taken...on the other hand it's a phenomenon we are seeing more of. Peo­ple can drive from one state to another in a matter of hours, and it's easy to carry out fantasies. Some people's fantasy is to kill someone, just killing for killing's sake...

"I think she met some street girl who talked her way into Karr's home," En­glert continued. "(The girl's) a lesbian, so Karr starts preaching about how evil it is. The kid figures she's had enough and wants to shut her up. It gets out of hand and Karr's killed. I think there was more than one person involved because Karr was a strong woman and it would have taken two people to kill her," he theo­rized. "The autopsy showed she had three broken ribs and had been hit around the head pretty good." On the other hand, if Karr's murder was merely a ran­dom killing, Englert said that it would be among the most difficult type of cases to solve, if it could be solved at all.

"I think my most important asset is my intuitiveness with people," said Englert, when commenting about the more than 400 people he and Peterson interviewed. "Our break on this case, or on any similar case, will come from people. The break can drop out of the sky, and the skill is in recognizing it."

As the investigation continued, Detec­tives Englert and Peterson went over the files again and again and reviewed the numerous photographs of the death scene. They tried relentlessly to deter­mine whether or not they missed a clue, a vital piece of evidence or a potential sus­pect, but they continued to come up with zero.

One thing that particularly bothered them was the bizarre fact that Eunice Karr's body had been moved long after she had been killed. Another thing was the small white paper cross found in her hand, and the mysterious telephone calls and letters, all of which they just couldn't understand.

"I don't think there's enough there to make it a satanic ritual," said Englert, "although it's damn strange. If it was just an everyday burglary that went bad, why the anonymous calls and letters? It doesn't make sense, but you can't think logically when it comes to crooks."

Reacting to a tip, Englert and Peterson hit the streets again, this time in South­east Portland, looking for a business owned by two lesbians. The detectives declined to name the business or the two lesbians, but confirmed that the trip had been worthwhile. As it turned out, the detectives showed the two women the composite drawing of the young women who had been seen in the company of Eunice Karr shortly before her death, and hoped the lesbians could help identi­fy her.

The two women looked carefully at the drawing and, after several minutes, one of them told the sleuths that the girl looked like someone she had gone to high school with in the 1970s. "But she was thinner then," said the woman.

Admittedly, it wasn't much of a clue, the detectives agreed, because the wom­an in question would be by now in her late 20s or early 30s. The woman seen with Karr had been described by earlier witnesses as approximately 18 to 19 years old but, they reasoned, it was pos­sible that the witnesses had been mistak­en about her age or perhaps the mystery woman looked much younger than she actually was. At any rate, they had to check out the lead, and the two probers went to the Portland School District headquarters to review old files.

As they went through the countless files, more than 10 years' worth, Englert and Peterson paid particular attention to females with the last name of Anderson and/or the first name of Abby. However, after a considerable time spent search­ing, each sleuth realized their efforts had again proved fruitless and they gave up that avenue of pursuit.

"Well, another crash and burn," said Peterson after their efforts failed to yield results. "But you never know what a shred of evidence will lead to. We'll exhaust every lead and start over again.

We do it day in and day out. One day we'll hit the right button." Englert agreed with his partner.

"You only get one chance on a case like this...," Peterson added. "...There's disappointment each time you turn the corner. The rewards are few and far between...On a burglary, you know you're going to get a chance at (the perpetrator) again in six months. On this kind of case, you mess up and they're gone...

"We found one lady we were sure was Abby Anderson, and we circled her like a shark," continued Peterson. "But after a 45-minute interview we knew she wasn't the person we were looking for. For all we know Abby Anderson could be dead, out of state or not even exist." The same holds true for Mike Moore.

Did the gay or lesbian connection cause any undue difficulties with the case? Englert and Peterson don't think so now, although at the outset, they admit­ted they feared it might. However, they found the gay community very coopera­tive and willing to help.

"Working on this case blew away a lot of my stereotypes about the gay commu­nity," said Peterson. "They're not an­ti-social, and they went out of their way to help us on this case. I guess a homicide cuts across all walks of life."

Another lead took Englert and Peter­son to a Northeast Portland home of a woman and her mother. The detectives had been told by a source that the woman might know something about Karr's murder. However, when they arrived they were met at the door by the woman's mother and were informed that the per­son they sought to interview was not at home.



At Englert's urging, the woman re­treated into the house to obtain the phone number where her daughter could be reached. While waiting for the mother to return, Englert eyed a small dog inside the house. Getting an idea, he called the dog through the screen door.

"Here, Muff," called Englert. "Come on, Muff." However, the dog didn't move, and that proved to be yet another disappointment for the detec­tives. "It was worth a try," Englert said, shrugging his shoulders. "You just never know." The woman returned and handed the telephone number to the two detec­tives on the porch. They thanked her and left and never revealed whether their conversation with the woman yielded any significant clues.

Following up on still yet another lead, Englert and Peterson went to the home of a 17-year-old girl and, with her mother's permission, picked the girl up and took her out to lunch at a nearby restaurant. The girl, whom they initially believed may have been involved in Karr's death, was understandably nervous, even after they were seated at a table inside the restaurant.

"So why did you kill Eunice Karr?" Englert asked the girl, never taking his eyes off hers. There was no reply. "That's what we're going to talk about today."

The girl denied any involvement in Karr's death, and even volunteered to take a polygraph test. The detectives soon realized she had nothing to do with the murder after all, but they learned the girl was a lesbian and a former drug ad­dict who was trying to straighten out her life.

"So what's the talk on the street about some old lady being snuffed last sum­mer?" Peterson asked the girl. She re­sponded by saying that she'd heard other street kids talking about an old lady being robbed, but had not heard anything on the streets about a murder. She provided the detectives with the names of the kids she heard talking about the robbery.

"I think you can help us," said En­glert. "Did anyone ever spank your butt and tell you to knock off the drugs?"

"Yeah, my lover did," the girl re­plied. "She said it broke her heart."

"Eat and get your health back," En­glert told the girl. "Change your life and stay off the street...Start getting good food in your body. And if you think of anything, call us. What you think may be unimportant may break the case. Take the time. Call." When they finished their meal, Englert and Peterson drove the girl home, again empty-handed and no closer to discovering or apprehending Eunice Karr's killer or killers.

"I'll personally never quit," said En­glert. "I may not be out there knocking on doors as hard as I did, but I'll keep working it. But realistically and econom­ically, it just isn't possible to work it full-time forever."

As of this writing, case number 84­14836, the homicide of Eunice Karr, has not been solved. Detectives still have not located Abby Anderson or Mike Moore, nor have they ascertained whether they even exist.

The public's help is being sought in this case. Anyone with information about the death of Eunice Karr or the identity of her killer or killers, or anyone with infor­mation about Abby Anderson and Mike Moore, is urged to take the time to call the Multnomah County Sheriff's Depart­ment at (503) 988 - 4300.
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