49th anniversary of Sarnia teenager’s death, investigation remains open and active

March 16, 2023, marked the 49-year anniversary of the death of Karen Caughlin, a 14-year-old girl from Sarnia.

Karen was last seen alive in the very early hours of Saturday, March 16, 1974.

Her body was discovered the following morning on Plowing Match Road between Churchill Line and Lasalle Line in Lambton County.

In 2017, new information revealed that Karen’s injuries were consistent with being struck by a motor vehicle.

Her body was then moved from the location where she was hit to where her body was discovered.

The OPP Criminal Investigation Branch continues to seek information that will lead to the identification of the individual or individuals responsible for Karen Caughlin’s death.

A $50,000 reward for information remains in effect.

“On behalf of Lambton County OPP, I would like to thank the public for their continued support with this investigation. Even after 49 years, information is still being received on this case. Our investigators diligently follow every tip,” stated Inspector Chris Avery, Commander, OPP Lambton County Detachment, in a media release.

A memorial to Karen Caughlin, which had been placed along Plowing Match Road has been removed.

Family members are urging those responsible for taking the cross and memorial to please return it or drop it off at the Lambton County OPP Detachment at 4224 Oil Heritage Road in Petrolia.

Karen Caughlin was a resident of the City of Sarnia, the second youngest of six children.

Karen and a friend were at the Rose Gardens roller skating rink from approximately 7:45 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. on March 15, 1974.

During this time, Karen arranged to stay the night at another girlfriend’s house, very close to her own home on Brock Street South.

She was expected to arrive before 1:00 a.m.

The girls left Rose Gardens and accepted a ride with other friends.

At 12:50 a.m. – on Saturday, March 16, 1974 – the friends dropped off Karen alone at a second girlfriend’s home and drove away.

Police want to hear from or about anyone who may have discussed attending or hosting a social gathering in Petrolia after going to the Rose Gardens roller skating rink, perhaps the day before Karen was last seen alive.

The OPP also wants to hear from anyone with information about a motor vehicle collision in the Petrolia area, or damage sustained by a motor vehicle around that time.

Someone may have observed damage to a vehicle, or not noticed damage to their own vehicle at the time.

To help determine what happened to Karen Caughlin, a seven-minute, case chronology video has been viewed more than 33,000 times since 2014 and remains available on the official OPP YouTube channel.

Watch it, below:

If you have information on this event, contact the Lambton County OPP at 1-519-882-1011.

Should you wish to remain anonymous, you may call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or submit a tip online at www.sarnialambtoncrimestoppers.org where you may be eligible to receive a cash reward.

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