Family of Minnesota woman killed in 1980s pleads to advance cold case

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Kristin O’Connell’s mother wants officials to analyze more than 300 evidence using Touch DNA technology

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The family of a 20-year-old Minnesota woman killed during a trip to New York in 1985 is begging law enforcement to pursue a nearly four-decade-old cold case.

Phyllis O’Connell, the mother of the deceased Kristin O’Connell, wants officers to analyze more than 300 pieces of evidence using Touch DNA technology with the help of a production company, but police have denied her requests for outside help in the ongoing investigation. Have given.

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Phyllis O’Connell told Granthshala News Digital, “I promised my daughter that I would not rest until the man who killed her was arrested.” “It’s been my challenge for 35 years to try to find out who did it. I’ll never give up until I die. I want to know who did it – why did they do it. I mean, my gosh . She wouldn’t have hurt a fly.”

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O’Connell described her daughter as kind, outgoing, and charitable. She recalled the time Kristin volunteered to babysitting the children of women at a shelter for domestic abuse victims when she was still in high school. O’Connell shares her concerns but eventually allows her daughter to go to work after Kristin insists.

When Kristin was a college student in August of 1985, she traveled from Minnesota to a town near the Finger Lakes in New York called Ovid, a man she met on Captiva Island off the coast of Florida over spring break that same year. Went to meet

On August 15, two days after Ovid arrived, Kristin called her mother to tell her she wanted to come home.

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“She said, ‘Mom… I decided to leave. I’m going to come home,’” O’Connell said of the phone call. O’Connell said her daughter was on her way to stop and visit some friends in Boston before going home and telling her everything was “okay.”

Thirteen hours after their phone call, the young man Kristin had gone to visit – Jim Vermeersch – reported his disappearance to local law enforcement.

According to O’Connell, Vermeersch apparently alleged that the 20-year-old left his trailer for a walk in an unfamiliar city without shoes or a purse between 11 p.m. on August 15 and 12 a.m. on August 16. Vermeersch and a few others were smoking marijuana in their trailer, which may have made Kristin uncomfortable, her mother said.

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Police discovered Kristin’s naked body and her blood-stained clothing in a corn field on August 16, 1985. No arrests have been made in connection with the case, although witnesses say they heard a scream on the night of August 15 and did not report it. officials. Witnesses have also said that they saw Kristin on the side of the road that evening talking to two unidentified people.

The local coroner determined she had been stabbed and beaten, but found no signs of sexual assault and alcohol in her system at the time of her death.

Kristin O'Connell Monument in Oviedo

New York State Troop E Public Information Officer Mark O’Donnell said the case is “active and ongoing.” He said the police were doing everything possible to bring justice to Kristin’s family and to close the open cold case.

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Now, nearly four decades after Kristin’s murder, producer Christopher Pavlik is producing an investigative documentary series based on the case. Pavlick, the production company that works for The Hammer Group, says it has a forensic lab that has been certified by the NYS Department of Health to analyze evidence. Evidence includes hair and clothes stained with Kristin’s blood.

Pavlick offered to analyze the evidence in O’Connell’s case free of charge, but NYS police rejected his offer.

Kristin O'Connell's bloodstained clothes

Pavlik said NYS police have agreed to test some of the evidence at their Oneida County lab, but are now having trouble figuring out “where to go” to analyze that evidence, according to the Hammer Group. Offering to do it on your own.

“They did the test in that lab, but now they can’t figure out which lab is going to do the analysis,” Pavlik said. “So… all kinds of conversations and stuff trying to figure out where to send it because it’s a two-part process.”

Pavlick and O’Connell are asking the police department to either allow Pavlick’s lab to analyze the evidence or to close the case so they can receive a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request about the case. be able to present

O’Connell has also worked with private investigators and other experts who offered help after hearing about her daughter’s case. She enlists Noel Hotchkiss, a former high school principal, and Preston Felton, a former New York State Police superintendent turned private investigator, to offer their help in tracking down Kristin’s killer for free.

O’Connell is also calling on New York lawmakers to introduce legislation that requires police departments to have dedicated units for solving cold cases, rather than handing them from detectives to another throughout the year.


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