ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WDVM) — It’s been 46 years since 12-year-old Karen Lee Spencer was found dead in the Huntington area of Fairfax County. Her murder remains unsolved, making it one of Fairfax County’s oldest cold cases.
Karen Spencer grew up in the Fairhaven neighborhood of Alexandria, and was going to be attending Hayfield Secondary School.
Her case first came to the Fairfax County Police Department’s attention on December 2, 1972 when her body was discovered at Fifer’s Field.
“There were actually a number of children there playing in the field that day that Saturday morning and they came across her body,” said Christopher Flanagan, a cold case detective for the Fairfax County Police Department.
An autopsy showed Karen died from repeated blunt force trauma to the upper body. But police say it was two days earlier, on November 29 between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m., when she was last seen alive.
“We believe that she was going to meet some friends,” Detective Flanagan said.
Among Karen’s friends was her boyfriend, Jimmy Edwards, who was 16-years-old. Edwards was a person of interest at the time of the investigation and denied any involvement in her death.
Thomas Spencer, Karen’s older brother, left home in 1964 when he enlisted in the navy. He moved back to their family home about 5 years after Karen died.
“She had some school books she said she was talking to a schoolmate to the 7-eleven on Fairhaven Avenue. But, I think she told my mom that as an excuse to go to the 7-Eleven,” Spencer said. “Many of the young guys went in the woods behind the 7-Eleven or around the 7-Eleven and dealt drugs and took them too,” he added.
Spencer says he was at work when he learned his sister had been killed. He can not forget how his mother reacted to the news.
“I heard that she stayed up all those days and nights in a rocking chair because Karen didn’t come back,” he said.
46 years later, police say they’re hopeful that highlighting this case will help bring closure to Karen’s family.
“There are quite a few people out there that we know have heard about this and are aware of what happened to Karen and for whatever reason haven’t come forward,” said Detective Flanagan.
Anyone with information on Karen’s death or who may have been an associate of Karen or James “Jimmy” Edwards is asked to contact Fairfax County Police Department’s Major Crimes Bureau at 703-246-7800.