“There’s a murderer walking among us and someone needs to pay for what they’ve done,” Mary Courtright said.
Kathy Losito and Mary Courtright remember their sister Karen as someone who could light up a room, making friends everywhere she went.
“She had a heart of gold she’d give you the shirt off her back. I think she was put here on Earth to make people smile and laugh. She could get you going, laughing, she was just the happiest person…well on the outside, I’m not sure about the inside,” Kathy said.
Things had taken a turn for Karen Canestaro. The 44-year-old mother of two had just moved back in with her parents after becoming estranged from her husband. One evening after dinner, she left her parent’s home in Elmira and never returned. What happened over the next 24 hours left the entire community in shock.
“We had responded and discovered a female deceased in shallow muddy water,” Joseph Kane, Chief of the Elmira Police Department said.
Karen’s body was found in a secluded area on the edge of Newtown creek. Five years later police are still wondering what happened in the moments before her death, while her family wonders who could’ve committed such a senseless act.
“It could be your neighbor, your coworker, walking free among us somebody in Elmira is walking free, Mary said.
Karen’s death was ruled a homicide. She died of blunt force trauma to the neck and drowning. With no valuables on her…not even a cell phone, car, or jewelry, and no known enemies, the question remains why?
“There’s a lot of suspicions but nothing that we’ve been able to prove or to feel secure about the motives,” Kane said.
Police questioned a number of people who had contact with Karen but came up with nothing that connected any of them to her murder. With no motive, and no suspect, all police have to go on is some DNA found at the scene that they hope will someday turn up with a match.
“We do still have some DNA evidence in the lab, we haven’t found out who that belongs to, that was recovered on some of the items at the scene. Once that goes into the New York State system it’s searched but the person who’s DNA it is has to be in the system in order for us to find that link so it could be somebody that submits a sample in the future that can close that gap,” Kane said.
For now, Karen’s family hopes for justice as they try to continue on without her.
“A memory will come back and trigger you and you’ll start crying,” Mary said.
A $5,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Karen’s killer. Her family hoping the reward will encourage someone who may have seen something to step forward.
“Maybe we can bring this person to justice who did this. Someone has to know something. I don’t know how anyone could do that to her, and throw her away like garbage and drown her,” Karen’s sisters said.
Police are also asking for your help.
“We encourage the community to contact us if they have anything. Even if they have something that they didn’t think was a big deal, it could mean a lot to us. It could substantiate something we have. Even to know anybody that may have been around the area or spent time there might help us to connect the dots and help us solve this case,” Kane said.
Karen’s sisters sharing this message for their sister’s killer:
“You’re an evil monster, I think he’s a coward with no conscious. I truly believe evil walks among us, there’s evil out there,” Karen’s sisters said.
If you have any information about Karen’s death, you are asked to call Investigator Gunn with the Elmira Police Department at 607-737-5613. You can also send a message to the following email: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information and ways to help, click here.