latest headlines

Cold Case Project: 1987 Kettering murder still haunts mother

Published: Friday, February 15, 2013 @ 10:06 AM
Updated: Friday, February 15, 2013 @ 10:06 AM
By: Lou Grieco - Staff Writer

When she woke up early Nov. 18, 1987, Mary Beth Marino sensed her daughter was in danger.

“I woke up at five in the morning and knew something was wrong, 500 miles away,” Marino said.

By days end, she learned that her daughter, Karen Sue Goff, had been murdered in her Kettering home. But 25 years later, Marino, who lives in Atlanta, still doesn’t know who did it. The case is unsolved, though Kettering police have recently turned over evidence to the Miami Valley Regional Crime Laboratory for testing.

Goff, 20, was found dead in her bedroom at 2341 Carew Ave., about 4 p.m. Her father Donald, who owned the house, was letting her stay there until he could get a bedroom set up in her home, Marino said.

Marino said she was so concerned about her daughter that morning that she called her several times, but got no answer. She also could not reach Karen’s answering machine. Marino then called her ex-husband’s home and spoke to Karen’s stepmother about checking on her. Donald stopped by his rental property on the way home from work, Marino said.

“He called and said ‘Karen’s gone – Karen’s dead,” Marino said.

The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office found that she had been strangled sometime in the early morning hours. The killer apparently climbed in through a window while she was in the shower, then attacked her. Goff, who lived alone, was sexually assaulted during the attack.

There were signs of a furious struggle in the house, particularly in the bedroom, but police also discovered why Karen’s answering machine wasn’t working – the killer had cut the phone lines, police said.

Karen spent her early years in the Dayton area, but moved to Atlanta with her mother and younger brother. Karen had learning disabilities and spent much of her time in school in special education. Though she struggled, she was proud that she was able to be mainstreamed and graduate with her class in 1985.

“The biggest day of her life was her graduation,” Marino said. “It meant the world to her.”

She described Karen as outgoing but naïve, and someone who tried to hide her learning disabilities because she wanted to be liked.

“She wouldn’t know to be careful of a guy,” Marino said. “Probably emotionally, she was 18, 17. I always said she was younger than her age.”

Kettering Det. Vincent Mason said she spent her last day with a boyfriend and some other friends who stopped by the Carew Avenue house. She also had a late doctor’s appointment.

She spoke to a friend on the telephone about 1 a.m., and “after that, there’s no other contact with anybody outside the house that I know of,” Mason said.

She may have been preparing to go out. Her curling iron was on when the first paramedic arrived at the scene.

Mason said there is a strong possibility that Goff knew her killer. Karen was a regular at the Bourbon Street Nightclub on Woodman Drive, where she danced three to four nights a week with her friends.

The department still has people of interest, but will look at any new information about any possible suspect. The department also has DNA samples from some of the possible suspects, but not all them, Mason said.

One man, contacted by police after News Center 7 did a story on the case last fall, agreed to give a DNA sample. The man, who lives in Washington, D.C., was cleared, Mason said.

Donald Goff died in 1998 at age 54 without knowing who killed his daughter. Mason said he wants to provide that answer for Karen’s mother.

“I just want to try and give mom something because we couldn’t give dad the answer he was looking for,” Mason said. “It’s very sad, and I don’t want mom to have the same problem.”

Anyone with information about the killing of Karen Sue Goff is asked to call 296-2583.