From KCRG: “Three Sheriffs, J.B. King, Ronald Long, and current Sheriff Jimmy Bench continued searching for answers through the years, along with Coroner Mikel Hartness, who got a court order in 2015 to exhume Ms. Knippers’ body to extract DNA.”
The DNA Doe Project and Forensic Genealogy found a possible family member of Pulaski County Jane Doe. After contacting, and permission to use their DNA, her brother was found. He confirmed “he indeed had a sister who had disappeared in the early 1980s.”
Karen Knippers (Dec 5, 1948 – May 25, 1981) was born in Florida. She lived in the St. Louis area around the time of her murder but why she was in Pulaski County, is unknown. It is of course possible that she was killed elsewhere and transported to Pulaski County. She was 32 years old when she was killed.
Karen was married to Harold Clayton Sturgal (Mar 14, 1933 – May 25, 2008) from Indiana. He was a truck driver for Goodwill industries. Note that he was preceded in death by a daughter Sheryl Lorraine. She was three years old when she was struck by a car and died instantly. This happened in Nashville, Tennessee.
Sheryl was three in 1962 and Karen was born in 1948. So, Sheryl was most likely not Karen’s child. In the papers, the father’s name is spelled as Clayton Harold Sturgal however, the grandmothers’ names match those on Find-A-Grave.
Karen’s middle name is spelled as Kaye, not Kay. In their marriage application and on Find-A-Grave her name is spelled Kaye as well so I am changing it on my website. I will update the post (or the databases) as soon as I find more information.
So now the next fase starts: who killed Karen? You can find all the details about the crime scene in my previous post, here. Highlights:
- the pantyhose that was found around her neck, if preserved it should be checked with the M-Vac for touch DNA.
- she didn’t show obvious signs of sexual assault but the autopsy showed mild trauma to the vaginal walls
- her clothes seemed put on hurriedly. She could have done this herself but maybe it was done by someone else
- her jeans pockets were pulled out as if someone was emptying them making sure they didn’t miss anything
- her panties were bunched up (no brand name found)
Last, thank you KCRG for mentioning that you found details about this case on my website. I appreciate that!
Rest in peace, Karen Kaye Knippers.