Karen is as comfortable in front of the camera as she is behind it.
She earned her undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice from the University of North Florida (Magna Cum Laude) and her Master's Degree in Pharmacy with a concentration in Forensic Science from the University of Florida. She completed one year of Ph.D. coursework at the University of Florida School of Sociology and Criminology & Law, working with dissertation Chair Dr. Lora Levett Shenker, studying cognitive biases and their effect on objective analysis of forensic pattern evidence.
Karen is a U.S. Navy veteran and a retired detective from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office in Florida. She served as both a major case detective in the Crime Scene Unit for nearly 11 years and as the Unit training coordinator for 3 years, developing curriculums and instructing 26 detectives as well as for attorneys in the Fourth Judicial Circuit. She conducted 500 death investigations and worked 20,000 other cases ranging from burglaries to multiple shootings and police-involved homicides. She has testified in over 100 trials, including 13 death penalty cases and has testified as an expert witness in bloodstain pattern analysis, crime scene reconstruction, projectile trajectory reconstruction, and other forensic-specific areas. She has designed and instructed 40-hour courses in all aspects of crime scene fieldwork including:
Basic Crime Scene Investigation
Advanced Crime Scene Investigation
Forensic Anthropology and Clandestine Grave Detection (with Dr. Heather Walsh-Haney)
Latent Print Development and Recovery
Bloodstain Pattern Analysis
Advanced Bloodstain Pattern Analysis
Bloodstain Patterns on Clothing and Difficult Substrates
Alternate Light Source Application
Laser Trajectory Reconstruction
Chemical Blood Enhancement
Laser Mapping Techniques
As of January 2020, she is one of only six private consultants who have attended and passed the course The Fluid Dynamics of Bloodstain Pattern Formulation, a 40-hour intensive class presented by Dr. Mark Jermy and Rosalyn Rough of New Zealand.
She moved to Knoxville, TN after being hired as the Training Consultant for the National Forensic Academy at the University of Tennessee. While at UT, she had the distinct privilege of working with Dr. Bill Bass, Dr. Arpad Vass, Dr. Murray Marks, Drs. Richard and Lee Jantz, Dr. Darinka Mileusnic, and other distinguished field experts at the Anthropological Research Facility (The Body Farm). She was instrumental in helping to develop the NFA Bone Yard, a new forensic facility dedicated to anthropological and entomological studies at the UT Arboretum in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
She is the published author of the scientific paper The Efficacy of Bluestar Forensic on Wood Floors Coated With Lacquer and Shellac: A Cold Case in Progress in the Journal of Forensic Identification in March 2015. Her literature review Can Investigators Objectively Navigate Bloodstain Pattern Evidence When Presented with Potentially Biasing Information was published in "It's Evident", the quarterly journal for the National Clearinghouse for Science, Technology & the Law at Stetson University (Spring, 2016). She contributed a textbook chapter on Women and Prison for a collaborative project for Springer Publishing.
Karen has lectured and presented forensic science topics across the country at numerous professional consortiums for the past 15 years. She was an invited guest speaker at Crime Con in 2018, 2019 and 2020. She was invited to speak at Crime Con 'On The Run' in Chicago. She traveled to Seattle for their 'CrowdSolve' event along with several other experts, case detectives, and victim family members in an attempt to find new leads for the cold cases of victims Karen Bodine and Nancy Moyer. She is currently investigating the questionable death of 3-year-old Lachlan Jones, which occurred in New Zealand, working in tandem with the New Zealand Coroner's Office. This is the first time in New Zealand's history that an American has been granted permission to investigate case files generated by the NZ police.
Karen has appeared on NBC's Dateline 20/20, CNN's Inside Man with Morgan Spurlock, the PBS documentary How Sherlock Changed the World, HLN's Lies, Crimes & Video, CNN's Special Investigation into the Missy Bevers case, ID Discovery's 'Murder Board' and for Vanity Fair's YouTube channel. She currently appears regularly on Crime Stories with Nancy Grace on her Sirius XM radio show that also airs on Fox Nation, HLN's Crime and Justice with Ashleigh Banfield, CNN's On the Story with Mike Galanos and for various live day and evening programs.
She hosts the podcasts "Shattered Souls - A Forensic Detective's Diary" and "Shattered Souls: The Car Barn Murders", where she investigated the 1935 double murder of her great uncle and his co-worker. Based on her two-year investigation, the public jury of over 1.2 million listeners has deemed the case solved, making it the coldest case in American history to have been solved in the public's eye. Karen is currently awaiting a final ruling by the originating police agency to deem the case administratively closed. She has been hired as a forensic expert for two new unscripted television shows, filming hundreds of hours of forensic and reconstruction footage and one show is currently being considered by a major network for a green light.
She currently serves as a lecturer at the University of Florida for the Forensic Science graduate program and served for 7 years on the ASB/AAFS Bloodstain Consensus Body.