Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Murder by the Book: The Murder of Karyn Slover

The Search

People who knew Karyn were worried, and some pitched in to search the corn fields on both sides of the highway along which the car was abandoned. The Pitt County Sheriff's Department ordered a search helicopter to fly over the area, surmising that the young woman might have been forcibly abducted. The initial impression conveyed by the car's condition was that of a car-jacking, which can happen on such lonely stretches of road: Someone flashes his lights to indicate trouble, and any driver who stops to help is caught in the offender's wily trap.

Karyn Slover
Karyn Slover

There was a chance that someone else, not Karyn, drove the car away. Investigators began to view it as a staged crime, because whoever left the car in that condition had wanted to draw attention to it. A carjacker, rapist, or killer intent on committing a crime without getting caught would likely have been careful to turn the car off, close the door, and shut off the lights.

The possibility that Karyn had voluntarily abandoned the car herself and left town had to be considered. However, she had been pursuing a modeling career and had recently received an agency contract for a three-day job, which she had signed and returned on the day she vanished. It seemed unlikely that she would have shelved these plans and abandoned her son just to walk away. Her parents said she had hoped to leave the state and take her son, to try modeling full time, but that fact did not immediately seem significant to investigators.

Over the next two days, no word came from the missing woman, so her parents and coworkers began to fear the worst. Swann, who had made a media appeal for Karyn's safe return, was placed under surveillance. Police learned that, while Swann had called Karyn's phone and left messages for her, someone had erased her voice messages. Swann had a key to her apartment; it seemed possible he had done it. Whoever was responsible, abduction by a stranger seemed increasingly less likely.

Investigators began compiling a list of people who knew her well, but before they could complete their initial contacts, a grisly potential clue to Karyn's fate was uncovered. On October 1, three days after Karyn Hearn Slover disappeared, the State Journal-Register of Springfield reported that the dismembered remains of a young woman had been found.

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