Unsolved Murder of Palo Alto Teen Karen Stitt in 1982 - DA Aims to Crack 'Cold Case'

Santa Clara County DA announces new web focus on cold-case murders and consumer tips. Up first: Who killed and dumped a spunky, 15-year-old Palo Alto girl behind the Honey Bee restaurant in Sunnyvale in 1982?

Karen Stitt, a Palo Alto teen killed in 1982. Photo: Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.
Karen Stitt, a Palo Alto teen killed in 1982. Photo: Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.

The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office is launching two website sections as part of 2014’s National Crime Victims’ Rights Week -- one to protect the public from financial scams and crimes, and the other to enlist help solving violent crimes that have gone cold with time.

The first cold case featured is the unsolved 1982 slaying of Karen Stitt, a 15-year-old Palo Alto teenager, stabbed close to 60 times and dumped near a bus stop in Sunnyvale.  

“We haven’t forgotten Karen," said DA Jeffrey Rosen. "And we want your help to find her killer.”

The Stitt case is the first that the website is highlighting -- other “Cold Case” unsolved violent crimes will follow. The DA's Office hopes focusing on a particular case will generate new leads. 

*** The Karen Stitt Case -- Who stabbed the Palo Alto high schooler some 60 times and dumped her naked body behind the Honey Bee on Sept. 4, 1982? Does anyone remember? Or know anything?  ***

Karen Stitt was the new girl in town, a spunky Pittsburgh, Pa. transplant who quickly eased into the social life of Palo Alto High and negotiated the El Camino Real bus routes to and from her boyfriend’s in Sunnyvale like a native, according to the DA web site entry

Sept. 4, 1982 was a Thursday and Karen and her boyfriend were hanging out late on a school night, playing some video games at a 7-Eleven.

Toward midnight they wandered over toward Golfland, a popular putt-putt course. Around 12:30 a.m., Karen’s boyfriend dropped her off near a bus stop at the corner of El Camino Real and South Wolfe Road.

She would grab the #22 back to Palo Alto and her father’s house.
There, snatched from the stretch of roadway choked with cruising cars, cluttered with restaurants and bars - the teenager, wearing a leather jacket, a striped shirt, pants and her boyfriend’s baseball hat with a Rush rock band insignia, disappeared. 

A delivery man found her the next day.
Thrown over a 4-foot wall near the now-gone Honey Bee Restaurant, Karen’s naked body was bound with her own clothing. The hat lay nearby.

She had been stabbed more than 60 times. The possible importance of a number of clues has lingered over the years.

A machinist working late that night noticed an unusual and out-of-place truck.  It was a white, old-fashioned panel truck with a stripe along its side. There was a rectangular sticker on its bumper.

It was parked near where Karen’s body was later found. Its parking lights were on.
Cold Case Unit Leader Ted Kajani and the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety are asking anyone who recalls that truck, or anything that may shed light on Karen's horrific murder, to contact them.

Even a seemingly insignificant piece of information, not collected at the time, may be vital. 

If you have any information at all, please call District Attorney Investigator Michael Brown at (408) 808-3760. 


The Santa Clara DA's new website, meanwhile, will also feature “Consumers Corner – a section dedicated to providing tips and resources for those trying to be a savvy consumer and avoid scams. 

 “Every year our Office seeks justice for thousands of crime victims in Santa Clara  County,” Rosen said. “The public has a vital role to both educate themselves against consumer crimes and to work with us to solve violent crimes, sometimes long after they happen.”    

“Consumers Corner” will provide resources for people seeking information on the latest scams  -- and to prevent the public from being victimized in the first place. 

The first posted tip is "Planning to Remodel?" -- with cautions of ensuring contractors are licensed

For more information go to: www.cslb.ca.gov.

Michael Calhoun April 15, 2014 at 02:17 AM
The information posted about that night is inaccurate, and I'm not sure if its deliberate or not. Anybody can look up a 1982 calendar online and see September 4th 1982 was a Saturday night. It was Labor Day weekend just before the school year started. Now, I can't say for sure whether there was a Golfland in 1982, but where Golfland is today at Wolfe and ECR (El Camino Real) did not exist. It was the Woolworth Garden Center at that time. The report I read in the paper stated a driver delivering to Woolworth Garden Center found her. Not a year goes by that I don't think about Karen, especially in September. I remember the night I heard the news. I had just gotten home from camping at Pinnacles with my mom, step-dad, sister, and her friend who lived next door to us. When we got home, my next door neighbor called me and asked what Karen's last name was. When I told her Karen's name, she told me she had been murdered. She then brought over the newspaper for me to read the story. Karen and I dated that previous school year. Her murder was part of my desire to become a police officer. While I realize the colder the trail goes, the harder it is to find witnesses and evidence...I will never lose hope that her killer(s) will be brought to justice. And if I'm able to, I will be in that courtroom to see the face of the animal(s) that took such a wonderful life away from her family and friends. She will always have a place in my heart.
Renee Rettick May 25, 2014 at 02:53 AM
Sounds like a serial killer.....Richard Ramirez
Renee Rettick May 27, 2014 at 10:05 PM
Scott Torrey June 14, 2014 at 12:22 AM
Sounds like the MF that killed my step sister at Standford Univ on Oct 22 1982. I know detectives have probably tried to connect it to your caes already. My parents just told us kids 'there are other unsolved cases in that area at that time." Its all public record, so I can say it: The name is Donald Amos, currently wasting oxygen in the prison. Whats worse is that he is currently soaking a up lottery winning trust fund, and 'living high on the hog.'
Scott Torrey June 14, 2014 at 12:32 AM
Also, my step sister was stabbed 'multiple times.' Her name was Angela Dee Arvidson. The knife was never recovered....


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