Detectives from FCPD Major Crimes Bureau’s Cold Case Squad solved the murder of 12-year-old Karen Lee Spencer – a brutal killing that occurred nearly five decades ago in the Huntington area of Fairfax County. Karen was last seen alive on Nov. 29, 1972. Her body was discovered on Dec. 2, 1972 in what was then known as Fifer’s Field – a wooded area located near what is now the Huntington Metro Station. An autopsy showed Karen died from repeated blunt force trauma to the upper body.
In the years following Karen’s murder, several persons of interest were identified, including a man that some believed was Karen’s boyfriend, James “Jimmy” Edwards. He was 16 years old at the time of the killing. He denied involvement and later died on Aug. 23, 1997.
In the summer of 2018, two independent acquaintances of Jimmy revealed to detectives that in the early 90s, Jimmy confided in them he killed a girl and buried her in a field when he was a teenager. Over the next year and a half, detectives received additional tips that supported this information and other previous investigative findings that implicated Edwards. Other persons of interest were disqualified based on exculpatory information, and in December of 2019, the Fairfax County Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney determined that sufficient evidence would have existed to support the arrest and prosecution of Edwards.
“For nearly five decades, Major Crimes detectives remained steadfast in their pursuit of justice for 12-year-old Karen Lee Spencer and her family,” said Major Ed O’Carroll, Bureau Commander, Major Crimes. “I am proud of the work of Detective Flanagan and all detectives who contributed to the closure of this case. The fact that they never gave up combined with our community’s willingness to come forward with information were critical in solving this case.”
Original release date: 06/26/2019:
Detectives Seek Public’s Assistance in Solving 1972 Cold Case
Mt. Vernon Police District – It has been 46 years since 12-year-old Karen Lee Spencer was found dead in the Huntington area of Fairfax County. Her death remains a mystery to our Major Crimes Bureau Cold Case Squad detectives who are seeking the public’s help to solve this cold case and bring resolution to Karen’s family. Karen’s murder is one of nearly 100 unsolved homicide cases that our detectives are investigating; this is one of our oldest cold cases.
Karen was last seen alive on Nov. 29, 1972. Her body was discovered on Dec. 2 by a group of young boys in what was then known as Fifer’s Field – a wooded area located southeast of what is now the Huntington Metro Station, between Mount Eagle Park and North Kings Highway. An autopsy showed Karen died from repeated blunt force trauma to the upper body.
Karen lived in the 2500 block of Belleview Avenue and attended Hayfield Secondary School. She would often play or hang out with many of the neighborhood children, including James “Jimmy” Edwards, who was 16 at the time of Karen’s death. Edwards died in the 1990s. Karen and other neighborhood children often spent time in Fifer’s Field and at the nearby Fairhaven 7-Eleven.