Police hope new details solve Karen Bodine case

Staff writerJanuary 17, 2014 

Littlerock body 1/22/07

FILE - In a Jan. 2007 archive photo Thurston County Deputy Coroner Joe West (l) stands with Sheriff's detectives Dave Haller and Steve Hamilton as they investigate the discovery of a woman's body. (Steve Bloom/staff file)


As the seventh anniversary of Karen Bodine's unsolved homicide approaches, Thurston County sheriff's detectives say they hope new information that has recently surfaced may help break the case.

A passing motorist on Littlerock Road SW discovered Bodine, 37, in an old gravel quarry area the morning of Monday Jan. 22, 2007. Investigators have always been tight-lipped about her cause of death, except to say that there were a number of "markings" on her body, and she died of "homicidal trauma."

Although the initial investigation indicated there were people with knowledge of her death, the trail quickly went cold, Thurston County Sheriff's Lt. Greg Elwin said.

Elwin said Friday that detectives have recently interviewed several people who have come forward to share new information in connection with this unsolved homicide. Now, detectives are systematically reviewing the cold case, re-interviewing witnesses and reviewing all the evidence in the hopes that a suspect can be identified and placed under arrest, he said.

Elwin said, "it absolutely bothers all of us," that the seven-year-old case has not been solved.

Elwin said that in any cold case, re-interviewing old witnesses can lead to the disclosure of old secrets, because a witness's relationships or allegiances may have changed in the intervening years.

Or a former drug user with information about a homicide who may have been reluctant to go to police years ago may suddenly get clean, and feel the pangs of conscience encouraging him or her to come forward.

Elwin was reluctant to talk specifics of the ongoing investigation into Bodine's murder, but said, "there might be people out there that don't know they know something."

The investigation into Bodine's homicide was complicated by the fact that she was associated with people involved in the county's drug culture, Elwin said. Because witnesses with information about Bodine's murder might also be involved in that culture, they might not want to go to police, he added.

"Witnesses in these types of cases rarely ever want to talk to police," Elwin said.

Although the facts surrounding Bodine's disappearance and homicide are tightly guarded by detectives, several interesting details came to light after her death.

As detectives gathered evidence the morning of Jan. 22, 2007, they took extensive photographs and marked an area where two tire tracks led to Bodine's body. A resident who was at the crime scene that morning, Damon Danforth, told The Olympian that his wife had drove by about 7:50 a.m. and "saw a little early '80s Datsun" parked at the quarry entrance where the body was found, but the car looked abandoned and she thought nothing of it.

At the time, Danforth said detectives were "definitely interested" in his wife's story.

Also, investigators learned that a Lacey police officer saw Bodine alive the night before she was found dead. The officer stopped Bodine between 9 and 10 p.m. on Jan. 21, 2007, while she was walking near Sleater-Kinney Avenue and 14th Avenue and he initiated a welfare check. The Lacey officer left Bodine alone after she said she was going home to Rochester, a sheriff's spokesman said at the time.

Less than 12 hours later, Bodine's body was found at daybreak off of Littlerock Road SW.

Elwin said Bodine's interaction with the Lacey officer has helped detectives establish a timeline.

Anyone with information about Bodine's death, as well as the days leading up to her death, is asked to contact the sheriff's office. Detective Cameron Simper can be reached by telephone at 360-754-3343, or by email at simperc@co.thurston.wa.us. TSCO investigative services can be reached by email at detectives@co.thurston.wa.us or through Facebook. Tipsters can also contact CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or by logging onto crimebusters.org.





Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5445 jpawloski@theolympian.com

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