The heart-wrenching murder of young Karen Slattery sent shockwaves through the Delray Beach community in 1984.
Just 15-years old, Slattery was baby-sitting for William and Carolyn Helm when an intruder brutally stabbed her over 18 times before performing a s*xual assault on her body that left her unrecognizable.
Residents of Delray Beach were stunned as the news spread and authorities moved to investigate the tragedy, but even more incredible was how the children being baby-satted by Slattery escaped any harm at all.
While no one could have predicted such an unfathomable crime could occur, it served as a reminder of just how incredibly fragile life can be.
When 16-year-old Shawna Jean Birkett was killed, the investigators worked diligently to uncover her murderer but with no luck for months.
It wasn’t until a surprise confession that led them to the perpetrator – Duane Owen, a suspicious character who had been arrested on an unrelated crime some months prior.
Your Worst Nightmare by Investigation Discovery will tell the story behind this cold case, and accurately named – He’s Out There – provides a chilling reminder of how quickly justice can slip through our fingers if we do not stay vigilant.
The January 19, 2023 episode promises to be an intense and heartbreaking examination of the case of Karen Slattery.
Karen was brutally murdered while being a responsible and reliable young woman who was simply trying to do her job for some extra money.
Unfortunately, her murderer vanished without a trace and it was not until months later that another woman fell victim–an even more tragic reminder that this killer had been among them all along.
The episode aims to delve into how Karen Slattery’s death affected their community while remaining dedicated to uncovering the truth surrounding her murder and ultimately bringing her killer to justice.
Karen suffered a brutal and horrifying death
As the paramedics confirmed, twenty-year-old Karen Slattery was dead. She suffered a brutal and horrifying death—stabbed multiple times in the back and neck by an intruder who had broken into the home she was babysitting.
It is difficult to imagine what Karen must have gone through, what terror she must have felt as her murderer took her last breaths of life away from her.
It leaves us feeling vulnerable when we think about how one act of violence can change so many lives in such a short time—that of the victim, and that of their family, friends, and community.
She was assaulted when she was in an unconscious state
The case of Slattery’s assault has been a puzzling one for the police team working on it. Even more harrowing is the fact that she was assaulted when she was in an unconscious state, unable to protect herself.
This only serves to enforce the severity of the attack as a complete disregard of Slattery’s human rights at a time when she is most defenseless.
What’s even worse, is that the assailant dragged her through an arduous journey in order to maneuver her into the bedroom, without so much as acknowledging her vulnerability.
The Helms indeed were taken aback at how such heinous acts were done while they were away from home.
Soon after, a 38-year-old became another of Owen’s victims
Despite the police’s best efforts to find Karen’s murderer, they were coming up empty-handed.
Then, soon after, a grim reality set in. The same day Duane Eugene Owen was arrested for an unrelated burglary, another woman was brutally murdered in a fashion similar to Karen’s. Owen refused to confess until police had tangible proof against him.
This new murder victim, Georgiana Worden, was a 38-year-old mother. While it was a tragedy for her family and friends, the story of how she became a victim of this killer would later help convict him.
Owen claims that he had been searching for women’s hormones
At his trial, Owen’s claims that he had been searching for women’s hormones on the night of the crime were met with suspicion from the jury.
Despite his best efforts to convince them that this was true, they refused to be swayed, and instead sentenced him to death. His motive had been unexplored—was it really a dream to become a woman, or something darker at play?
No one would know for sure, as Owen took his secrets to the grave. Still, the jury remained untainted by doubt and passed their sentence without hesitation, condemning the killer of Karen Wiles to his tragic end.
Owen was convicted of first-degree murder in two separate cases
Duane Owen was convicted of first-degree murder in two separate cases and has been fighting for his life ever since.
His death sentence strongly contrasts his previous nonviolent criminal record, painting a stark picture of a man who was dealt a cruel hand in life. Despite years of appellate claims, Duane Owen is still behind bars at Florida’s Union Correctional Institution.
Many believe that he does not deserve the ultimate punishment for his alleged crimes and are eager to see if the court will once again alter its decision and grant him a reprieve.