Kristin O’Connell Unsolved Homicide Case

Digital Advocacy in Action

Case Overview

Years Unsolved: 38

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“She was my daughter, and they’re not going to kill my daughter and walk away,” Phyllis O’Connell.

On August 14, 1985, twenty-year-old Minnesota college student Kristin O’Connell traveled to Ovid, NY, a small town in the Finger Lakes to visit a young man she met on Captiva Island over Spring Break. The day after she arrived, Kristin called her mother from a payphone and told her she was cutting her trip very short and planned to leave for home the following day.

That same night, Kristin disappeared.

Thirteen hours later, the young man she came to visit would report her missing to law enforcement. He alleged that at around 11:30 the night before, Kristin left his trailer to take a walk alone down an unlit road, in an unfamiliar town, without shoes or a purse. A team of local firemen would find Kristin’s rain-soaked naked body on August 16th in a nearby cornfield, less than a quarter of a mile away from the trailer where she was staying. Kristin had been stabbed multiple times, and her throat had been slashed. Testing would prove her body was free of alcohol at the time of her death, and the coroner would find no signs of sexual assault.

State Police have long asserted that Kristin’s murder was a crime of opportunity committed by a random stranger passing through a small rural town. Rumors have persisted for over three decades in the small town where Kristin was murdered that her death was not a crime of opportunity. Some claim to know precisely what happened to Kristin and who is responsible for her murder.   In the thirty-seven years since Kristin’s death, despite their efforts, State Police have not made a single arrest in connection with her murder.


Offers to help have been declined over the last decade

In December 2009, a request made by the family and law enforcement to retest evidence was submitted to the NYS Department of Health and at that time NYS senator Mike Nozzolio, Senator Chuck Schumer, and MN Senator Amy Klobuchar supported the efforts of the DA Barry Porsche and NYS Police Investigator Jeff Arnold to use new touch DNA technology offered by a Dutch team of touch DNA experts. This request was denied by then NYS commissioner of health, Howard Zucker.


In 2021, a proposal was made to NYS Police for a team of esteemed investigators to work alongside NYS police to review the case, create a profile, follow leads, and interview or interrogate potential suspects. This team offered to test all the physical evidence in the case through a non-profit forensics lab based in Salt Lake City at no cost to the citizens of New York State or Seneca County.

District Attorney Mark Sinkiewicz has never returned a phone call or responded to an email from the victim’s mother.


How CCA Helped

Built Digital Case File

Added the case to the uncovered national cold case database. We had over 10,000 unique views on her case page within the first month.

Gained Media Exposure

Gained national news coverage on Fox News and Dateline NBC’s Cold Case Spotlight on the 36th anniversary of her murder. Her case was also featured on the podcasts Crimepedia and Nefarious Nightmare on a True Crime Talk episode on Clubhouse.

Fundraising Appeal and Petition Developed

Revised and GoFundMe petitions and re-circulated them through various digital platforms.

This resulted in a 140% increase in petition signatures

Ongoing Media and Case Advocacy

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