ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – Almost 10 years ago, Elmira resident Karen Bellinger Canestaro left her parents’ home after eating dinner and never returned.

Karen was a daughter, sister, mother of two and friend to many. She was the baby of the family, the youngest of four. Two of her sisters, Mary Courtright and Kathy Losito remember their baby sister as someone who could always light up a room.

“She was just wonderful inside and out and she just cared about everybody. She’d give you the shirt off her back,” Kathy reminisced.

Karen also loved to host parties, “…if she met you today, she’d invite you to her next party. You’d be her friend,” added Kathy.

On May 6th, 2013, the Bellinger family’s life turned upside down. At the time, Karen was estranged from her husband and living with her parents. She ate dinner with them and then went on a walk, which wasn’t out of the ordinary for her.

What was odd was her not returning home after.

“My parents, they’re in their 80s, they’re out there looking for and driving around and they couldn’t find her,” Kathy explained. “She still didn’t come home by morning, so they drove around again, couldn’t find her”. Around 11:00 a.m. on May 7th, her body was discovered, and her father would soon be called to identify his daughter’s body.

Karen’s body was found in a secluded area in Newtown Creek. To this day, a cross is in the place where her body was found that morning.

“I figured it was natural causes,” said Mary. However, eight months later, they would learn that her death had been ruled a homicide. According to a WETM report from 2018, Karen’ died’s reported cause of death was blunt force trauma to the neck and drowning. She also had no valuables on her, no cell phone, jewelry, or a car. Some DNA was found; however, that hasn’t led to an arrest or even a suspect.

Mary and Kathy said that they visit Elmira Police Investigator Ronald Gunn about once a year to see if anything new has developed in her case. Since this is still considered an open investigation, not much information can be released at this time.

This year would be Karen’s 55th birthday; she now has four grandchildren. Her sisters have vowed to never stop searching for their baby sister’s killer or killers.

“She didn’t deserve to be murdered,” said Kathy. “There’s a murderer still walking around Elmira or the area,” added Mary, “somebody out there has to know something.”

The Bellinger family is offering a $10,000 dollar reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for Karen’s murder.

Reward Poster

The family will be hanging reward posters throughout the city of Elmira on Saturday, May 6th, and they are looking for volunteers. The plan is to meet at Wegmans at 10:00 a.m., and from there you will be assigned an area to hang them up. More information on the event and Karen’s case can be found on the ‘Justice for Karen Bellinger Canestaro’ Facebook page.

If you have any information, you’re asked to call Investigator Gunn at (607)-737-5613, the HALT tip line at (607)-271-4258, or email justiceforkarencanestro@gmail.com.

18 News has reached out to District Attorney Wetmore for comment on this case, but he did not respond by the time this was published.