1981 cold case murder in Portland still unsolved

Police: 16 years after body found, person of interest ID'd, later dies

Karen Andrea Thomas and family shown in an undated photo released by the Portland Police Bureau.
Karen Andrea Thomas and family shown in an undated photo released by the Portland Police Bureau.

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) – When family and friends of Karen Andrea Thomas hadn’t heard from her in three days in December 1981, they had a feeling something horrible may have happened. Those fears ended up being true when her body was found inside her apartment 33 years ago today.

The case still remains unsolved.

Thomas’ family told police at the time of her death, it was very unusual for her to go that long without talking to anyone. Thomas, police said, had been staying in an apartment in the 4900 block of Northeast 7th Avenue until she moved back with her mother and step-father in mid-December.

Sensing something was wrong, Thomas’ brother, Kevin, went to Karen’s old apartment, police said. With the landlord’s help, he entered the apartment and found Thomas’ body. She had been stabbed to death, police said.

Detectives were puzzled — who would want to kill Thomas – a mother of a three-year-old boy. Police interviewed her family, friends and acquaintances. At the time, police said, they were unable to develop any suspects in her death.

In 1997, someone came forward and contacted detectives with information regarding Thomas’ death. It was the first major break in the case. A person named Johnny Moore, police said, became a person of interest in the homicide. Moore, however, died of an apparent drug overdose in 2004, police said.

Today, investigators are still looking for people who knew Moore and had conversation with him regarding statements he may have made about the death of Thomas or the deaths of any females he may have been associated with. Police this week declined to say if they believe Moore maybe responsible for more than one homicide.

Any information would assist in closure for Thomas’ family, police said.

Witnesses should contact Cold Case Homicide Unit investigators directly at (503) 823-0400.

To remain anonymous, witnesses may provide information through Crime Stoppers of Oregon.
Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information, reported to Crime Stoppers, that leads to an arrest in this case, or any unsolved felony, and tipsters can remain anonymous.

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