District attorney seeks clues in cold case

15-year-old Paly student killed in Sunnyvale in 1982

The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office is asking the public for clues to the murder of a teen girl whose nude body was found with more than 60 stab wounds in Sunnyvale 31 years ago.

The girl, 15-year-old Karen Stitt, was a student at Palo Alto High School last seen near a bus stop at the corner of El Camino Real and South Wolfe Road in Sunnyvale on Sept. 4, 1982, according to Deputy District Attorney Ted Kajani, who is the head of the district attorney's office's Cold Case Unit.

Karen's murder is the first cold case listed on a new page on the district attorney's office website to be devoted to unsolved murders and updated periodically, according to the office's media coordinator Sean Webby.

At the time of her death, Karen, who turned 15 that July 25, had recently moved from Pittsburgh, Pa., to live with her father in Palo Alto and had been taking buses from her father's home to visit her boyfriend in Sunnyvale.

She was with her boyfriend in Sunnyvale on the evening of Sept. 3, 1982, when they played video games at a convenience store and then around midnight went to a miniature golf course called Golfland.

At about 12:30 a.m. on Sept. 4, Karen's boyfriend dropped her off near the bus stop so that she could catch the line back to her father's residence in Palo Alto.

The girl was wearing a leather jacket, striped shirt, pants, and her boyfriend's baseball hat with an insignia from the rock band Rush on it.

The following day, a deliveryman found her naked body, bound with her own clothing, near a restaurant. Her body, stabbed more than 60 times, had been thrown over a four-foot high wall, and her boyfriend's hat was found lying nearby.

A machinist who worked the night Karen was last seen reported noticing a truck in the area that appeared out of place. The truck was a white, old-fashioned panel truck with a stripe on its side and a rectangular sticker on a bumper.

The truck had been parked, with its parking lamps on, near where Karen's body was located. The district attorney's office is requesting that anyone with information about the truck or anything else about Karen's murder to contact Investigator Michael Brown at 408-808-3760.


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Posted by A Sad Loss
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 11, 2014 at 12:59 am

I appreciate the effort to try to resolve these cold cases, with new technology there is hope. Unfortunately, after more than 30 years the odds of turning up a new witness is remote. Nevertheless, I will pray for resolution of this brutal murder, and also for the family of Karen Stitt - I pray they have found acceptance in the Lord's plan and know that Karen is in a better place, waiting to see them again when the time is right.

I also pray the authorities are able to find, and incarcerate, the criminal responsible for robbing this young woman of her adult life.

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Posted by McGruff753
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 12, 2014 at 7:47 pm

I have been holding onto hope year after year Karen's killer(s) will be brought to justice. It was one of the driving forces for my desire to become a police officer. Karen's life was cut way too short.

I remember coming home from camping at Pinnacles with my mom, step-dad, sister, and out next door neighbor over the Labor Day weekend, just before school starting that next Tuesday. When we got home from camping, my neighbor called me and asked me what Karen's last name was. When I told her Karen's last name, she told me she had been murdered. She then brought me over the newspaper for me to read.

I remember her funeral. It was the first day of my Junior year of high school. When I had people razzing me about showing up to school in a suit, and I told them I was going to a funeral, they did not know yet about Karen. I had to explain to them. And they all came to the funeral that day.

While I realize what "A Sad Loss" stated is true, "after more than 30 years the odds of turning up a new witness is remote"...I will ALWAYS hold on to hope the break they need to get this case solved will come.

I was one of Karen's ex-boyfriends from the previous school year, so she will always have a special place in my heart.

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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 12, 2014 at 8:00 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

McGruff753 - I am so sorry for your loss. I knew her family, and I recall how staggering this was for them all.

All of this time, I thought she was found behind the garden center, not a restaurant.

For those of us who have lost loved ones to murder, it's a whole other type of nightmare that we never wake up from.

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Posted by McGruff753
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 13, 2014 at 10:03 pm

McGruff753 is a registered user.

Hmmm, First, thank you. Every September I'm thinking about her. I probably always will until justice is served, and probably beyond. And now that this is back in the headlines, it has her on my mind hoping more information will come in.

Where Golfland is now used to be the Woolworth garden center. There was an alleyway between the garden center and the Honey Bee restaurant. I believe it was a driver making a delivery to Woolworth who found her that Sunday morning. I remember the original story said he thought she was a mannequin at first.

It sounds like you lost someone to murder as well?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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