Six-year-old Karen was last seen playing outside of her family's residence at Saguaro Crest Apartments on in the 100 block of west Valencia Street in Tucson, Arizona on January 11, 1996.
She was roller-skating with her younger sister and some friends that evening and was last seen when she returned to her apartment to drop off her skates before going outside again to play.
Karen's mother reported her missing when she called Karen inside for dinner at approximately 6:30 p.m. that evening and noticed that she had disappeared. Neither her sister nor any of their playmates had seen her vanish or heard a scream or a struggle. She has never been seen again.
It is possible that Karen was abducted by an unidentified male seen in the area around the same time she disappeared. He is described as a Hispanic or Caucasian male who was approximately 30 to 46 years old in 1996. He has light brown hair and green or hazel eyes. He stood between approximately 5'6 and 5'8 tall and weighed about 170 pounds.
The suspect may have a moustache. He is believed to have also been responsible for the abduction, rape and beating death of another child named Esther "Lizette" Galaz, who disappeared from her home in December of 1994 and was found the next day in a drainage ditch near her home. Lizette's murder remains unsolved.
Authorities stated the circumstances of her abduction and murder are very similar to Karen's disappearance: both girls are Hispanic, within a year of one another's age and disappeared outside their Tucson apartment complexes during the evening hours.
Another possible suspect in Karen's case is Rodolfo Sedeno Morales. He resided in Saguaro Crest Apartments in 1996 and is currently serving a prison term for the abductions of five girls from the Tucson area between 1993 and 1994. He has not been charged in connection with Karen's disappearance.
Karen's case remains open and unsolved. Her family members were cleared of any suspicion in her disappearance shortly after the investigation began in 1996. Her father was in Mexico at the time of her disappearance and her mother is also a native of Mexico. Karen has never been located.
Karen enjoys playing Nintendo games, roller skating and riding her bicycle. She was a first-grade student at Elvira Elementary School and was learning how to read, write, and sing at the time of her January 1996 disappearance.
Karen's upper right tooth is larger than her other teeth and she was missing several baby teeth at the time of her disappearance. Her ears are pierced and she has a pea-sized mole behind one ear.
Karen is bilingual: she speaks both Spanish and English.
She was last seen wearing a faded purple or turquoise t-shirt with white lettering on the front, multicolored pastel floral-printed shorts, "Guess?" shoes, a gold chain with a pendant reading "Little Angel," a ring with a red stone and another ring engraved with the letter "K."