UPDATE: Detectives Solve 1972 Murder of 12-Year-Old Karen Lee Spencer
Mount Vernon Police District – Detectives from our Major Crimes Bureau’s Cold Case Squad solved the murder of 12-year-old Karen Lee Spencer – a brutal killing that occurred nearly five decades ago in the Huntington area of Fairfax County. Karen was last seen alive on Nov. 29, 1972. Her body was discovered on Dec. 2 in what was then known as Fifer’s Field – a wooded area located near what is now the Huntington Metro Station. An autopsy showed Karen died from repeated blunt force trauma to the upper body.
In the years following Karen’s murder, several persons of interest were identified including a man that some believed was Karen’s boyfriend, James “Jimmy” Edwards. He was 16-years-old at the time of the killing. He denied involvement and later died on August 23, 1997.
In the summer of 2018, two independent acquaintances of Jimmy revealed to detectives that in the early 90’s, Jimmy confided in them he killed a girl and buried her in a field when he was a teenager. Over the next year and a half, detectives received additional tips that supported this information and other previous investigative findings that implicated Edwards. Other persons of interest were disqualified based on exculpatory information and in December of 2019, the Fairfax County Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney determined that sufficient evidence would have existed to support the arrest and prosecution of Edwards.
“For nearly five decades, Major Crimes detectives remained steadfast in their pursuit of justice for 12-year-old Karen Lee Spencer and her family”, said Major Ed O’Carroll, Bureau Commander, Major Crimes. “I am proud of the work of Detective Flanagan and all detectives who contributed to the closure of this case. The fact that they never gave up combined with our community’s willingness to come forward with information were critical in solving this case.”
For ongoing updates, please read our blog and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at @FairfaxCountyPD.
(Original release date: 06/26/2019)
Detectives Seek Public’s Assistance in Solving 1972 Cold Case
Mt. Vernon Police District – It has been 46 years since 12-year-old Karen Lee Spencer was found dead in the Huntington area of Fairfax County. Her death remains a mystery to our Major Crimes Bureau Cold Case Squad detectives who are seeking the public’s help to solve this cold case and bring resolution to Karen’s family. Karen’s murder is one of nearly 100 unsolved homicide cases that our detectives are investigating; this is one of our oldest cold cases.
Watch this video for additional information about this murder, including where it took place.
Karen was last seen alive on Nov. 29, 1972. Her body was discovered on Dec. 2 by a group of young boys in what was then known as Fifer’s Field – a wooded area located southeast of what is now the Huntington Metro Station, between Mount Eagle Park and North Kings Highway. An autopsy showed Karen died from repeated blunt force trauma to the upper body.
Karen lived in the 2500 block of Belleview Avenue and attended Hayfield Secondary School. She would often play or hang out with many of the neighborhood children, including James “Jimmy” Edwards, who was 16 at the time of Karen’s death. Edwards died in the 1990s. Karen and other neighborhood children often spent time in Fifer’s Field and at the nearby Fairhaven 7-Eleven.
Our detectives are committed to solving this murder and continue to pursue leads and examine evidence with newly emerged technology. Anyone with information on Karen’s death or who may have been an associate of Karen or James Edwards is asked to contact our Major Crimes Bureau at 703-246-7800.
Tips can also be submitted anonymously through Crime Solvers by visiting http://www.fairfaxcrimesolvers.org, or calling 1-866-411-TIPS. They can also be sent in via text by texting “TIP187” plus the message to CRIMES (274637). Text STOP to 274637 to cancel, or HELP to 274637 for help. Message and data rates may apply. Anonymous tipsters are eligible for cash rewards of $100 to $1,000 dollars if their information leads to an arrest or resolution of this case.
For ongoing updates, please read our blog and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at @FairfaxCountyPD.