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Cold Case Revisited: Possible Break In O’Connell’s Murder

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By Caroline Lowe, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As Caroline Lowe prepares to start a new adventure at KSBY in California, she’s spending the next couple of weeks revisiting cold cases she’s profiled over the past several decades as a crime reporter for WCCO.

Lowe keeps a wall of photos of the victims next to her desk so she’ll never forget them. When she clears out her desk for the last time, Lowe said she’ll put the photos in an album to take with her to California.

Many of the victims’ relatives have contacted her in recent days and before she departs, Lowe will be sharing their stories.

It has been more than 25 years since a 20-year-old Burnsville college student was murdered in upstate New York, where she was visiting friends. Her mother, Phyllis O’Connell, has fought hard to keep her case in the spotlight to help solve the killing. She now has hope a break could come soon.

Kristin O’Connell left a party on a rainy August night in 1995 to take a walk. She was barefoot and alone. She never returned. Two days later, her body was found in a nearby cornfield in Seneca County. Her throat had been slashed.

Police received an anonymous call several days later about a mysterious car. The caller said, “Do you want that guy that killed tha girl? If you open the trunk, you will find what you want.”

So far, that tip has not panned out but Kristen’s mother and New York investigators never gave up.

“She was my daughter and I will never ever let it go. Never,” Phyllis said during an interview Wednesday at her Burnsville home. “They robbed the family and me of their heritage.”

Since WCCO’s last report on the unsolved mystery almost two years ago,  a Dutch husband and wife forensic team has received Kristin’s clothing for “touch” DNA tests. The team has had success solving other high-profile cold cases.

“They should be coming up with something shortly,” said O’Connell.

And what does that mean for the family?

“Closure. Closure. I mean it has been 25 years and I have had to fight it all the way,” she said.

O’Connell hopes the DNA tests conducted by Richard and Selma Eikelenboom will finally point investigators to her daughter’s killer.

“They have people they feel could have possibly done this,” said O’Connell.

Caroline Lowe’s Original Report

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