CINCINNATI - For more than 21 years, Richard and Diane Spencer have waited, and waited, and waited. It could be a knock on the door. It could be a phone call. It doesn’t matter to them so much how the news is delivered, they just want to know where their daughter Karen is or what has become of her.
Sitting on the back porch of their Florence, Ky. home they flip through photographs.
“This is probably the last picture taken of Karen,” says Diane. The picture shows a young girl of 17. Standing in what seems to be woods, or a park. It was a day trip she and Diane took to nearby Sharon Woods.
The next picture is brings a big sigh from Diane.
“This picture was taken in St. Petersburg, Florida. The last vacation.”
Karen is her step-daughter, but Diane has been married to Richard for so long, Karen may as well be hers biologically. The words “the last vacation” seem to hang in the air. Their impact is clear, but Diane continues, “You never know when anything will be the last.”
The last time they saw Karen was December of 1989. She was bounding out of the house. She left with her older brother’s then-wife, Kristy. Karen was going to help them box up for a move to Florida.
Many hours later, Diane and Richard remember Kristy coming in the house. Richard says he knew immediately something was wrong.
He didn’t ask what was happening. He asked, “Where is Karen?”
Where she had gone is still the mystery. All police and the Spencers either know, or are allowed to say, is that Karen and Kristy were driving westbound on I-275 about three in the morning near Loveland. They got in a fight and according to Kristy, Karen pulled the car over on the side of the highway and got out. Kristy told police and the Spencers a man in a red sportscar, probably a Datsun, pulled over as well and asked if they needed help. The Spencers say Kristy pulled away in her car and left Karen on the side of the highway with the man in the red car.
“I still hold out a little bit of hope,” says Richard Spencer, tears welling in his eyes. “But personally, I believe she died the same night she disappeared and we feel like that red sportscar may be her coffin."
What they know versus what they can accept are two entirely separate things. The Spencers admit they can’t let Karen, or the hope that she is still out there alive and well, go.
They’ve made the trip to the attorney’s office to inquire about declaring Karen dead. But they can’t do it.
“Because as long as we don't have her declared dead, we still have hope," says Richard Spencer.
Part of the reason they can’t let go is because they strongly feel that someone out there knows something more about the night Karen disappeared. They believe someone knows more about that red car and what may have happened inside of it.
It brings them no joy to speak with yet another reporter. No joy at all. But they know it may lead them to someone who can finally end this horrific chapter in their lives.
Diane Spencer makes this plea:
"For anyone who knows anything, even a scratch of evidence to tell somebody in authority. All we want to do is bring her home. Karen's whole family still waits. We all still wait. We just want to bring her home."
Tanya's full interview with Karen's mom airs Sunday on 9 News at 11.
For more on Missing Children, visit http://www.wcpo.com/missing .
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