Family still searching for daughter's killer in 1985 murder

- More than three decades have passed since Kristin O’Connell, of Burnsville, Minn., was murdered after she left a friend’s house party in the Seneca County village of Ovid, New York.

O’Connell was a 20-year-old UW-Stout student visiting a man she met on spring break. The trip to the East Coast came ahead of O’Connell’s junior year of college.

It was August 14, 1985 when O’Connell left the Ovid, New York house party. Witnesses tell police she was followed by two men as she walked along County Route 139. O’Connell also talked to someone in a vehicle that had stopped.

Two days later, O’Connell was found stabbed to death in a central New York cornfield.

“Life goes on, there is joy out there, but I miss her, you know?” cried Kristin’s mother, Phyllis O’Connell.

The family has relentlessly sought Kristin’s killer ever since.

“I’ve tried to leave no stones unturned, none,” the mother told FOX 9.

Phyllis says she’s working closely with private investigators and police.

The mother has even worked with Touch DNA founders Selma and Richard Eikelenboom in hopes of bringing detectives closer to closing the case.

“Anything I can think of I will try,” Phyllis says of her diligence. 

Police say they have investigated nearly 2,000 leads in the open case.

After 31 years, the friend Kristin visited has yet to say a word to the family.

Countless questions linger as the family’s loss continues to take a toll.

“Slow erosion,” described Kyle O’Connell, Kristin’s younger brother of how his sister’s murder has affected him personally.

“The time just keeps ticking on and on, we’ve been waiting for someone in that town to come forward,” he said.

The O’Connell family also grieves over all they’ve missed out on.

“You wonder about grandkids that I’ve never had,” said Phyllis.

Barbara Baer, Kristin’s aunt, tells FOX 9 her niece was a natural born giver with a big heart.

“She helped out at the women’s shelters, she would help all her friends that had problems and even helped me babysit the week before she left,” Baer smiled.

Kristin’s brother assures the entire family will continue to seek justice for Kristin until they find the person responsible for her death.

“If they’re waiting for this to fade away it isn’t going to happen,” he said.

Seneca County has a $10,000 reward on the table for whoever can lead police to Kristin’s killer.

Phyllis is raising money to increase reward.

To learn more about how you can help Phyllis in the effort, click here.


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