NewsDecades-old murder solved: Forensic science nails a killer

Decades-old murder solved: Forensic science nails a killer

Karen Snider was brutally murdered in 1966. Now, the perpetrator has been revealed.
Karen Snider was brutally murdered in 1966. Now, the perpetrator has been revealed.
Images source: © Getty Images | Anadolu Agency

5:06 PM EDT, May 7, 2024

Karen Snider was brutally murdered in 1966, succumbing to 125 stab wounds. Remarkable advancements in forensic science finally pinpointed a suspect, unveiling James Barbier, now 79, as the perpetrator. At the time of the murder, he was merely 22.

On a grim day in November 1966 in Calumet City, a suburb of Chicago, 18-year-old Karen Snider's life was tragically cut short. Her husband found her lifeless body, bearing evidence of a harrowing attack that left her stabbed 125 times. The quest for justice was long, but after 57 years, her assailant has been apprehended.

The breakthrough came with the forensic achievement of isolating DNA traces from the victim's clothes, confirming suspicions harboured by investigators for decades about who was responsible for this heinous crime.

Justice delayed: a daughter’s lifelong wait

The heart-wrenching fact that Karen's baby daughter, merely two months old, was in her crib beside the murder scene underscores the tragedy. Haunted by the event she could never remember, she has spent her life seeking the truth about that fateful night in 1966. After over half a century of seeking answers, she can finally find some closure.

James Barbier, who once worked with Karen's husband, emerged as the murderer. At the crime's time, he was a young man of 22. Investigators pieced together how he stealthily entered the apartment, murdering slipping away, avoiding justice for decades.

In the absence of sophisticated investigative capabilities in 1966, the police were initially powerless to link him to the crime conclusively. Yet, the unwavering determination of a group of investigators, leveraging modern forensic technologies, finally assembled the necessary evidence to apprehend him.

Ironically, Barbier had feigned mourning, participating in Karen's funeral and carrying her coffin despite injuries on his hands, which raised suspicions. From the start, the victim's family had suspected him. While Barbier awaits his trial, he has been conditionally released with strict restrictions, including regular police station visits, hinting that justice for Karen Snider may soon be fully served.

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