October 9, 2021 | By Jac Caruso
This story is part of a collaborative project between Project: Cold Case and a University of North Florida Journalism class.
Karen Marchioni loved nothing more than playing with her young daughter at the local parks in Framingham, Mass., although her love for animals was a close second. The two would go down slides together and laugh as they ran around the play structure. As her daughter, Jennifer Case, got older, the two maintained a close relationship even through the hardships Karen faced.
That close relationship was torn apart just days after Karen’s 41st birthday when she called 9-1-1 from her home saying she had been stabbed. She died hours later in the hospital from her wounds. Jennifer was only 14 years old.
Karen’s murder has never been solved.
Karen was always known for her big heart and playful demeanor. Karen’s cousin, Christine Pellitier, grew up with her and spent numerous school breaks at the Marchioni house. The two professionally rollerbladed together and she remembers Karen as a fun-loving, big-hearted woman who never met a stranger.
Christine remembers Karen as a great friend. “If roles were reversed and it was me, she would still be fighting to find my killer,” she said.
Karen’s death has been difficult for the family. Some family members don’t want to keep bringing up painful memories while others are still passionate about finding justice for her.
“I will never stop fighting for her,” Christine stated.
A medical condition left Karen on disability, so instead of traditional employment, she used her time to give back to her community. She volunteered much of her time to visiting the elderly. Jennifer would sometimes accompany her mother on these visits. Sometimes the pair would paint nails and just provide companionship. Other times they would write letters for those individuals who could no longer manage to write letters to their loved ones.
Karen was just as passionate about helping animals as she was about helping people. She believed they could not stand up for themselves, so it was her job to do so. If Karen saw a stray cat, she would bring it home and take care of it. Her efforts actually spurred the birth of the Framingham Humane Society. Karen would visit animal shelters and ask to adopt the oldest cat so that it could pass away in a home, knowing an environment of love and safety instead of just a small cold cage.
All the good she brought to the community was abruptly stopped on October 8, 2001, when she was stabbed in her home on Nelson Street. She was stabbed repeatedly in the face, neck, and chest. Her murder occurred midday and despite medical personnel’s best efforts, she died two hours later at the hospital. Police identified a suspect, but the suspect was never charged, and Karen’s case is still considered unsolved.
Jennifer vividly remembers learning about her mother’s death. She and a friend were picked up from the mall by Jennifer’s father. They did not listen to the radio or talk on the way home. “That wasn’t uncommon. I was a 14-year-old-girl!” Jennifer joked of the car ride.
When they arrived home, Jennifer was informed that her mother had been attacked. She couldn’t wrap her mind around it at first. Jennifer even asked if they were sure that she had not committed suicide or overdosed.
Jennifer returned to school a mere week later and recalls that it took months to truly come to terms with her mother’s murder.
Even though it’s been years, Jennifer is still optimistic that her mother’s killer will one day be arrested. She also likes to focus on the positive memories of her mother and thinks of her daily.
She also believes she entered the mental health field due to her mother. Jennifer learned so much from her mother about addiction and its complexities. “She was an addict, but she was also a really good mom, like a really good mom,” Jennifer emphasizes.
Jennifer currently helps individuals with mental health issues like addiction and is grateful to her mom for making her so empathetic to the problems and troubles addicted individuals face.
When Karen was away at treatment centers, Jennifer was often able to have sleepovers with her. The two would paint their nails, talk, and play games. Jennifer remembers those sleepovers as some of her favorite memories with her mom. She says Karen was attentive, fun, and focused on spending time with Jennifer every time she could.
Jennifer also recalls the last time she saw her mother. It was at her mother’s birthday party. “I’m so happy that was the last time I saw her,” she said. She recalls the party being full of laughter.
“I got to tell her I loved her, and it was such a happy time,” she says.
Jennifer says growing up without a mother was unimaginably hard. She felt treated differently in school and says she was labeled as “the girl whose mom was murdered.”
Going through teenage years is hard for every girl and not having her mom there for prom and graduation and her first heartbreak is what hurts Jennifer the most.
“My dad has always been there for me, but you want to turn to your mom to talk about ‘girl stuff’. She had been taken away from me and that was really hard,” Jennifer said.
March 6, 2016
Two days after Karen Marchioni’s 41st birthday she was found murdered in her own home.
At 11:09am on Monday, October 8, 2001, Karen placed a 911 call to say she had been attacked in her Nelson Street apartment in Framingham, Massachusetts.
When police and paramedics arrived they found Karen unresponsive and lying in a pool of blood. Two hours later, after being airlifted to the hospital, she succumbed to the dozens of stab wounds on her face and neck.
Karen, a near lifelong resident of Framingham, was a founding member of the Framingham Animal Humane Society Shelter.
Almost 15 years after the incident, her family is asking for the help of anyone that might be able to offer new information.
If you have any information, no matter how small you think it is, on the unsolved murder of Karen Marchioni please contact the Framingham Police Department at (508) 872-1212 or the Middlesex State Police Department at (781) 897-6600.