The Redding Record-Searchlight has reported that Robert Neil Knechtel, father of Karen Knechtel Mero, died this past Monday. He was 67 years old and had been in poor health for some time, a fact he blamed in part on his daughter’s disappearance. Karen’s mother, Alice, is still alive.
Karen disappeared from McCloud, California in 1997, at the age of 27. Authorities think she may have been the victim of a serial killer. Wesley Howard Shermantine, who was convicted in four women’s presumed deaths (including two cases where the bodies were never found) and suspected in the disappearance of Hannah Zaccaglini (who also disappeared from McCloud in 1997), is the prime suspect in Karen’s disappearance as well.
Earlier I reviewed Without Trace: On the Trail of New Zealand Missing Persons by Scott Bainbridge. (It’s not for sale in the US and was given to me by my dear from Justin. I subsequently donated it to the Fort Wayne library.) Well, I just discovered that Bainbridge wrote another book on the same topic: Still Missing: More Unsolved Missing Persons Cases in New Zealand. This came out in 2008, three years after the first book, and it’s like twice as long as the first one.
I’ve added this to my to-read list. Unfortunately the only library I can get it from would be the Library of Congress, meaning I’ll have to read it on-site (the LofC does give inter-library loan books but doesn’t let you check books out properly; they have to stay in the library they’re lent to). But I have sufficient interest to want to do that, even though none of these cases could go on Charley.
The author of Clueless in New England attempts to tie the 1946 disappearance of Paula Welden and the 1952 disappearance of Connie Smith with an earlier case, that of Katherine Hull in 1936. Katherine was 22 when she disappeared from Lebanon Springs, New York. Her skeletal remains were found in a nearby wooded area seven years later. There wasn’t much left of her and the police had almost zero evidence to go on, so they closed her case as an accidental death and threw out all her investigation files. But as Dooling points out, it could well have been murder. We’ll never know now.
I’m not at all convinced by his serial killer theory — the many years between the disappearances, and the fact that they occurred
hundreds of many miles apart, are hard to get over — but I do think this was an excellent book. It provides a wealth of detail on all three women’s cases, as much detail as you’re going to get at this late date, not only about the disappearances themselves but about the investigations and the way police did things back in the day. I will be updating Paula and Connie’s casefiles with additional information from the book.
Well done, Mr. Dooling.