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Karen Pannell Murder: How Did She Die? Who Killed Her?

January 14, 2021
4 min read

Karen Pannell was found brutally murdered at her residence with a note written on the wall with her blood, which seemed to indicate the culprit behind her death. As the investigation unfurled, the message turned out to be nothing but a misleading clue. Investigation Discovery’s ‘A Time to Kill’ covers Karen Pannell’s murder in an episode titled ‘Written in Blood.’ If you are here wondering about the details of the case, we have got you covered.

How Did Karen Pannell Die?

Karen Pannell had a gleaming career, first as a model and then as a customer service employee for an airline at Tampa International Airport. She was the only daughter among the six children her parents had. Karen was also known for having a beautiful smile and an amicable nature. Hence, when she was found dead on October 11, 2003, at her Oldsmar home in Tampa, Florida, her friends and family were devastated. Another person who seemed to be deeply affected by her death was her then-boyfriend Timothy Permenter, who had called the authorities to notify them about Karen’s death.

Karen was found inside her residence, lying in a pool of blood. She had been stabbed and cut repeatedly 16 times in the chest and neck. Inside her home, the investigators said they also spotted a word written in blood on the wall near Karen’s body. It read “Roc.” The investigators soon found out that Roc was the name of Karen’s former boyfriend, who did not reside in the neighborhood.

When they followed up with him, Roc provided a solid alibi for the night Karen was killed and was thereafter ruled out as a suspect. On the other hand, Permenter claimed to have last seen Karen at 7:30 p.m. on October 10 and then again at around 10:30 a.m. the next day when he found her body. It would soon be revealed that Permenter’s claims were false and the bloody note on the wall was a ruse.

Who Killed Karen Pannell?

Timothy Permenter, Karen’s then-boyfriend, killed her. The preliminary stages of the investigation involved a few suspects, including Roc Herbich (who was later ruled out) and Karen’s ex-husband, with whom she was in an alimony dispute. He too was taken off the list when his alibi stood ground. The investigation took a turn with the autopsy report of Karen’s body. The officers had found a pizza box in her residence and three slices had been consumed.

The autopsy showed that Karen did not have any pizza in her stomach then. Moreover, forensic experts had by then figured out that the bloody note on the wall could not have been written by Karen. According to an episode of ‘Forensic Files’ titled ‘Writing on the Wall,’ the blood residue on Karen’s right-hand index finger indicated that she had written the note with that finger, but Karen was left-handed.

Moreover, experts argued that the message had been left several minutes after the stabbing. An examiner testified that Karen had been fatally stabbed in her spinal cord, which had supposedly rendered her paralyzed from the waist down, making it almost impossible for her to wait long enough to have written that note. The same examiner also said that Karen had defensive wounds on her forearms and hands suggesting a struggle against the attacker.

Another incriminating piece of evidence came from fingerprint analysis from the pizza box, reports of which revealed that they were Timothy’s fingerprints. This contradicted Timothy’s previous statement to the police where he had said he last saw Karen at around 7:30 in the evening of Karen’s death. The pizza receipt, also retrieved from Karen’s house, showed that it had been delivered much later, the police said. Eventually, a combination of eyewitnesses placed Tim at Karen’s home around the time she was killed. His friend testified that Tim had confessed to him about killing Karen soon after the murder. Forensic evidence also showed the presence of Tim’s DNA under Karen’s fingernails.

As for motive, the prosecutors said Timothy and Karen were undergoing a conflict in their relationship because Karen had recently found out about Timothy’s criminal record. Among several felonies, one of the most notable ones was when he served in prison for being in a gunfight. At the time, he also ran a prostitution chain. Karen had insisted on splitting a few days before her death when Timothy allegedly told her about his past according to the ‘Forensic Files’ episode. Timothy was ultimately convicted for Karen’s murder and a few weeks later was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in November 2007, despite a majority of the jury agreeing on the death penalty.

Read More: Where Is Timothy Permenter Now?

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