Select It Sunday: Karen Wells

Selected by Kat, this Sunday MP is Karen Denise Wells, a 23-year-old mother of one young son who disappeared from Carlisle, Pennsylvania 22 years ago, in the spring of 1994. She had apparently traveled to Pennsylvania from her home in Oklahoma to visit a female friend, and was staying in a hotel and told a hotel clerk she was going to have a quick meal at a nearby McDonald’s, then go to bed. She was supposed to meet her friend after midnight that night, so I’m not sure why she said she was going to bed. Maybe she was just planning to take a nap.

Anyway, when the friend she’d come to see couldn’t get her to answer her room door, the woman summoned a hotel staff member to unlock the door and they found the room deserted. On the morning after Karen’s disappearance, they found her car parked on a rural state road 35 miles away, mud-splattered, with the doors wide open. It had run out of gas and the battery was dead. According to the odometer, the car had driven six to seven hundred miles that couldn’t be accounted for.

The whole thing, especially the condition in which the car was found, looks extremely suspicious to me, and both police and Karen’s family think she was murdered. The fact that the car was parked right smack in the middle of the westbound lane isn’t too surprising, since it had run out of gas. The driver might not have had time to pull over before the engine went dead. But why would anyone — either Karen or an abductor — leave the doors open like that? You’d think they’d at least bother to close them. That sort of thing attracts attention.

If I was a passerby and found a car abandoned in the middle of the road with the doors open like that and no one around, I wouldn’t necessarily assume a crime had occurred, but I would think this was strange and I’d probably call 911. (Three years ago I wrote a long entry about the difference between “suspicious” and “odd” and how “odd” things often should merit the attention of the authorities, even if there’s nothing overtly threatening about the situation.)

The most recent news articles I could find on Karen’s disappearance were from 2009. (She is also listed on the FBI’s website but it doesn’t say much.) There’s a suggestion that drugs were involved in this case, since they found some marijuana in Karen’s car — but loads of people smoke pot.

Karen has since been declared legally dead. On the off chance she’s still alive she would be 45 now.

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