ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – It’s been almost 38 years since the brutal killing of Kristin O’Connell, the 20-year-old from Minnesota that visited Upstate New York to see a boy she had met on spring break.
In August of 1985, she traveled to Ovid, N.Y., only to be found dead in a cornfield days after her arrival. In the 37 years since, police have never officially named a suspect or made any arrest in her case, despite receiving and looking into over 2,000 leads.
For years now, outsiders have attempted to work on this case in hopes of bringing closure to the O’Connell family. The O’Connells have even hired private investigators on their own. However, NYSP still considers this case an open investigation, which makes it harder for others to try to get a closer look at the case and evidence. If NYSP were to ever determine this a cold case, outsiders would then be able to get access to the files. This is where Christopher Pavlick comes in.
WHO IS CHRISTOPHER PAVLICK?
Christopher Pavlick is a Los Angeles film producer; he’s been in the business for over 20 years now. Oddly enough, Pavlick went to school with and was classmates with Kristin O’Connell’s younger brother, Kyle. A few years back, Kyle reached out to Pavlick asking for help, which is when the idea of filming a documentary came up.
TRUE CRIME DOCUSERIES
The idea Pavlick came up with was to use the true crime documentary to put together a cold case team that would help out and provide resources to the NYSP. But, the team hit a road block: NYSP didn’t want their help. “That was super frustrating because we thought that we are offering them something super positive and helpful,” Pavlick said. “We offered a testing facility in Utah that was willing to test all the evidence of Kristin’s case, at no cost. Then we also had a cold case team out of Utah as well.”
The cold case team, according to Pavlick, was run by a former FBI agent that has offered his time to hopefully help advance the investigation. All of this would have been free of charge to NYSP, Pavlick said.
He understands that the priority of state police is to work on the current cases that are coming in, and not a 37-year-old case. “We offered them a team that was going to work on it basically 24/7, that have dozens and dozens of resources available, that can help them really do a lot of the grunt work that they don’t have time to do,” said Pavlick. “There are so many unfollowed leads and so many questionable people that surround this case.”
Pavlick has tried to get NYSP to look at and possibly use a couple of different labs that would test DNA, but he said state police wouldn’t entertain the idea because the lab wasn’t New York-certified.
It did rain the night before Kristin’s body was found in the cornfield, but there is still a lot of evidence and DNA that can be tested. “There’s tons of evidence. There’s Kristin’s pants, there’s Kristin’s underwear, there’s Kristin’s sweater, there’s Kristin’s fingernails, there’s over 300 hairs, there’s two packs of cigarettes, there’s a baseball hat, a painters’ hat that was left behind,” said Pavlick.
State Police have said that they believe this was a crime of opportunity, meaning that they think the killer(s) did not know Kristin but were just passing through Ovid. The coroner at the time also said it did not appear that Kristin was sexually assaulted, despite being found naked.
What’s more, Pavlick said that there are people that think the killing did not happen in the cornfield. “This crime scene felt staged, it didn’t feel like it had taken place there, it felt like that they had to put things together to kind of make it look like it had been a sexual assault. When it actually wasn’t,” said Pavlick.
The coroner also said that Kristin did not have any drugs or alcohol in her system, which makes sense, based on comments from her mother. Phyllis O’Connell has said Kristen wasn’t a partier and did not partake in that.
Pavlick told 18 News that he still tries to reach out to NYSP and hopes to work with them to try and solve Kristin’s case saying, “this is a case that can be solved, it deserves to be solved.”
RESPONSE FROM STATE POLICE
18 News reached out to the State Police in hopes of talking to them about the case. They provided this statement in response:
The State Police has been actively investigating the murder of Kristin O’Connell from the tragic day she was reported missing in August of 1985. During the course of this investigation, the State Police has developed thousands of investigative leads, processed numerous items of evidence, and traveled throughout the United States conducting interviews. The State Police has received assistance from law enforcement partners from the Federal Bureau of Investigation as well as a great deal of state, county, and local level agencies. These active collaborations continue to ensure the upmost attention to detail is maintained. Members of the State Police actively research modern techniques and procedures regarding evidence processing and seek input from law enforcement partners. The State Police are willing and eager to entertain any evidence processing that is ethical, lawful, and within the confines dictated by the New York State Department of Health. The State Police does not share sensitive case information, evidence, or techniques utilized in solving cases with members of the general public. By sharing such information, it could jeopardize the integrity of our investigation. State Police Investigators take the responsibility of solving all cases very seriously. We will continue to work diligently to solve this homicide and bring the individual, or individuals responsible for her homicide, to justice. Members of the public are encouraged to contact the State Police Violent Crime Investigation Team with any pertinent information related to this case.New York State Police Troop E
HOW YOU CAN HELP
“We urge you please help us we need you to be as angry as we are about it. Because there is somebody walking around literally in this town in our neighboring town somewhere who has gotten away with murder. And when I say gotten away with murder, they got away with a very, very vicious murder,” said Pavlick.
There is a Facebook group called ‘Justice for Kristin O’Connell‘ where you can keep track of any progress made in the case. As of right now, this is still an open investigation and anyone with information is encouraged to call State Police Troop E: (585) 398-4100.
A GoFundMe page has also been set up as an effort to get justice in Kristin’s case.
There is also a true crime podcast, Method & Madness, that is covering Kristin’s case as well. As of right now there are two episodes up with more coming later this month.
Cold Case Advocacy is working on passing ‘Kristin’s Law’ in New York State. A law that would provide victims families with more resources.
This is the fourth story in our series on Kristin’s death.