Detectives may have solved cold case murder -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Detectives may have solved cold case murder

January 22, 2007


Valdosta  --  Karen Powell was found murdered in the woods near a residential neighborhood in Valdosta January 8th, 1990. Now, 17 years later, police say they have identified one of her killers, and are searching for more.

Ten months ago, forensic detective Shannon Salter picked up a cold case that hadn't been open in nearly 17 years. "I originally got involved in the case back in March 2006 after being contacted by the family to look back in the case," she said.

It was the unsolved case involving the murder of 23-year-old Karen Powell of Valdosta. Powell's family reported the mother of four missing on December 20th, 1989, and her body was discovered in a wooded area near the corner of Orange Street and Magnolia Street in January of 1990.

Salter soon began re-investigating the case. "We're going back and re interviewing previous people who were interviewed, and information that they heard, or obtained over the years that maybe wasn't relayed when they received that information," Salter says.

That information led them to 49-year-old James "Pip" Roberts Junior, who is currently serving a burglary sentence at Autry State Prison in Pelham. They have charged him with murder.

Police believe at least one more person was involved in Powell's murder and hope the new charges will lead to additional arrests.  "We have to rely on people who may not have wanted to come forth back then, but are willing to come forth now."

Through their website, Powell's family said Karen was a gifted young woman with a beautiful voice.  When her voice was stilled, it left a deep and painful void in the lives of her children, family and friends.

Police hope the arrest will give her family some comfort.  "I believe they feel it's the first step in receiving closure in their daughter's murder," said Salter.  And hope that all involved in Karen's murder will soon be brought to justice.

This is one of the oldest cold cases the Police Department has solved.


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