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Karen Bodine never did stray far from home.
Even after she was grown and had three children of her own, she wasn’t in a hurry to leave the community near Tumwater where she grew up, where she had lived with her parents and big brother, Greg. It was a tight-knit family that Karen and her kids could always count on.
In the fall of 2006, Karen’s oldest was starting her senior year in high school and her youngest was starting middle school. She’d broken up with their father, who turned out to be more interested in partying than parenting, and had taken her little family back home, to live with her parents.
They were short on money, but never short on love. Karen would take every opportunity to make her kids feel special, leaving little notes in their backpacks and filling their home with her laughter.
Then, Karen met a new beau. She started staying at his apartment nearby. Her children stayed with their grandparents, but their bond with their mother remained strong.
On one Friday in January, her daughter Karlee stopped by after school, as she often did. They chatted and shared a few laughs, before Karlee got up to leave. Karen didn’t want her to go. She never did.
“Just five more minutes,” she begged. “Just five more minutes.”
But, Karlee had places to go and so much on her teenage mind. She’d see her mother again soon. Karen wasn’t going anywhere. At least, that was the plan.
That night, Karen and her boyfriend had a fight. Not just an argument, but a knock-down-drag-out battle that ended with police at their front door and Karen moving out. But, she didn’t go back home. Maybe it was embarrassment over another failed relationship. Or maybe she just preferred the comfort of her friends.
Karen spent the weekend looking for a place to land. By Sunday, she was out of options and found herself calling home, looking for help, trying to reach her parents or Karlee, her oldest. But, the phones just kept ringing….
That’s how Karen found herself wandering down a residential street in Lacey. It was cold and she didn’t have a warm coat. A neighbor noticed Karen and was worried about her, so they called police. An officer stopped to see how she was doing. Karen waived them off. She was fine, she said, just thinking… trying to clear her head.
But the officer wouldn’t let it go. He couldn’t leave this young woman out in the cold as day was turning to night. He convinced her to go to a women’s shelter where she could warm her bones until she decided what to do next.
At least, that’s what could have happened. What might have happened. If only Karen had not been so persistent. If only the officer had not given up.
Instead, Karen wandered into the night, never to be seen alive again.
It was just hours later, early on Monday morning, when Karen’s body would be found naked and posed along a country road nearly 30 miles from her home town.
What’s worse, news reports declared the body of a transient and suspected drug addict had been dumped and Karen’s murder quickly fell off the radar.
It felt like nobody cared. Like nobody saw Karen for who she really was.
But with a new investigator on the case and a new effort to rekindle public interest, could they finally answer that burning question: Who killed Karen Bodine?
There is a $50,000 reward being offered by the family of Karen Bodine and a $1,000 from Crime Stoppers for information leading to an arrest in her murder. To give an anonymous tip, contact Crime Stoppers of South Sound.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, here are some resources that might help:
- Mental Health First Aid for Someone in Crisis – Tips for recognizing the signs of someone in crisis and approaching them to offer help.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 800-273-TALK (8255) This service is not limited to helping those who are contemplating suicide. Their trained operators can help with other mental health crises as well. They also offer confidential help for veterans and their families.
- Crisis Text Line – Text NAMI to 741741 This service provides support and intervention via text messaging.
- National Sexual Assault Hotline – 800-656-HOPE (4673) This hotline provides confidential support and connection to resources for survivors of sexual assault. They also have an online chat option accessible through their website.
- National Domestic Violence Hotline – 800-799-SAFE (7233) This hotline connects those experiencing domestic violence with resources and confidential support.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Treatment Referral Helpline – 1-800-662-HELP (4357) This organization directs people to local mental health services and resources for treatment.