1970s missing-person case prompts search

August 31, 2007|By Justin Fenton | Justin Fenton,Sun reporter

A three decade-old missing person case prompted Wednesday's daylong search by police and the FBI outside a Pasadena home, though no human remains have been positively identified, a source with knowledge of the investigation said yesterday.

Police were searching for the body of Karen Kamsch, a teenage girl who lived at the home on Wishing Rock Road with her grandmother and disappeared in the mid-1970s. According to a neighbor, she was presumed to be a runaway at the time.

Despite news media reports that a body or human remains had been located in a well on the property, authorities did not find anything conclusive, according to the source.

In a news release yesterday, the agency characterized the investigation as an "ongoing cold case homicide/missing person case," and declined to elaborate. A Web site listing county cold case homicides does not include any information about Kamsch and does not describe any cases in which a body has not been recovered.

Officials from the Anne Arundel County police and fire departments, along with an FBI evidence response team and Baltimore County canine unit, searched the property for more than 12 hours on Wednesday. A county-owned vehicle with a suction device was placed in a well next to the home, and a stretcher carrying what appeared to be supplies was taken away from the scene.

The couple who now live at the home were identified as the aunt and uncle of Karen Kamsch. They declined to comment yesterday, saying police had instructed them not to speak while the investigation is continuing.

Yesterday, the leafy street was noticeably calmer than on the previous day, when police and fire vehicles and television news trucks lined the one-lane street. The well, which had been topped with a steel cover, appeared to have been filled in with dirt.

Information about Kamsch's disappearance was scarce. Neighbor Beatrice Hasenei, 84, said she remembers seeing a large number of cars parked outside the Kamsch home one day in the late 1970s. The girl's grandmother, Olga Kamsch, appeared to be crying.

"I said, `Do you need any help, is something wrong,' and she told me that Karen ran away from home," Hasenei said.

Hasenei said she grew close to Olga Kamsch over the years and occasionally asked about Karen, her pretty, brown-haired granddaughter who had come to live with her and vanished. Olga Kamisch died in 1999.

"She just said, `No one has heard from her.' There was nothing to elaborate on, I guess," Hasenei said. "All the time, it's going through my mind that if she's alive after all these years, she'd be calling back to talk to somebody."

Police would not say what prompted the search this week. The source with knowledge of the investigation said "new information" had recently come to light.

County police said it was not a "breaking news" incident or a matter of public safety concern.


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