Fairfax County

Virginia Authorities Solve 1972 Slaying of 12-Year-Old Girl

Police say they have solved the killing of Karen Lee Spencer

Fairfax County Police Department

Virginia investigators have solved the killing of a 12-year-old girl who was found slain in a wooded area of her neighborhood in 1972, police announced Wednesday.

Nearly 50 years after Karen Lee Spencer was killed in Huntington, the Fairfax County Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney determined there would have been enough evidence to arrest James Edwards in the case, the Fairfax County Police Department said in a statement this week. Detectives from the department's Cold Case Squad were credited with solving the case.

Authorities learned that Edwards, who was 16 at the time, may have been Karen's boyfriend. Edwards died in 1997 and had previously denied involvement in her death, according to the statement.

Karen was last seen on November 29, 1972, police said. A group of boys found her body three days later, and an autopsy determined she died from blunt force trauma to the upper body.

Fairfax County police said two people who knew Edwards told investigators on separate occasions in 2018 that Edwards admitted to killing a girl and burying her in a field when he was a teenager. Additional tips and previous findings in the decades-long investigation supported the information, police said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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