Sex Offender Arrested in 1986 Rape and Murder of 11-Year-Old Kathleen Flynn

Marc Karun was arrested Wednesday at his home in Maine in the killing of 11-Year-Old Kathleen Flynn.
Norwalk Police

It was a crisp fall day when Kathleen Flynn set out on her walk home from school in Norwalk, Connecticut, during the afternoon of Sept. 23, 1986. 

Though it was only her second week at Ponus Ridge Middle School, the 11-year-old had already figured out the quickest route to travel the half-mile to her house. Friends would later tell police they saw her walking toward a wooded path that led to Hunters Lane, then to Fillow Street and finally to her home.

She should’ve made it home by 3:15 p.m., but that time came and went, and with no sign of Kathleen being near, her mother instantly knew something was wrong

Esther Flynn, then a math teacher at Stamford High School, reported her daughter missing at 5:12 p.m., drove to the school and checked the surrounding neighborhoods. 

About 70 members of local police and fire squads also searched for the little girl, and at about 3 a.m., her body was discovered in a secluded wooded area 158 feet from the path.

She had been raped and strangled. 

“This is a middle- to upper-middle class neighborhood,” Lt. Robert Fabrizzio told reporters in 1986. “In 21 years on the police force, I have not heard of anything like this happening here.” 

Though the crime was unthinkable, it didn’t take investigators long to narrow in on a man they believed capable of the attack.

Marc Karun lived within a few miles of the school and had previously been convicted of sexual assault.

About eight months before Kathleen was killed, Karun was charged with sexual assault and kidnapping an 18-year-old woman. The charges were later downgraded to sexual assault in the fourth degree after the victim decided she didn’t want to testify against him in court, and he was ultimately convicted of that charge. 

He was questioned by detectives within weeks of the murder, a police affidavit obtained by WCSH-TV said.

Karun denied having anything to do with Kathleen’s rape or killing, but said he had gone to her middle school four days before she was murdered to “see some teachers.” There, he also said he “spoke with the school librarian” and “walked on the wooden path that led to Hunters Lane,” officials said.  

None of the librarians remembered seeing Karun, but some teachers recognized him as a former student who had “serious problems,” the affidavit said. When police brought the librarians and teachers' comments to his attention, Karun allegedly said he hadn’t actually been at the school that day. 

Though investigators noticed alleged similarities between the attack Karun was convicted of and Kathleen’s murder, forensic testing at the time didn’t establish a link, court records obtained by the Bangor Daily News said.

Police continued to work on the case, but no arrests were made, leaving Kathleen’s family and community at large with no closure and an ever-present fear it could happen again.

“As I and others have told you many times, this is a sad situation that can happen at any time and at any place in Norwalk, Darien, New Canaan, Wilton, Westport or Weston — anywhere,” LeRoy Vaughn, the principal of Kathleen’s school at the time, told students during an assembly held a day after she had been found, The New York Times reported. “That's why you have to be on your guard every moment.”

Authorities continued to eye Karun, who appeared unable to stay out of trouble. 

He was arrested in April 1988 in connection to the kidnapping and sexual assault of a 16-year-old; charged with unlawful restraint, weapons in a motor vehicle and threatening in May 1988 after picking up a 27-year-old woman along the side of a road whom then allegedly told to strip. She told cops she was able to steer the vehicle off the road and get help, WCSH reported.

In June 1988, he was charged again with kidnapping, criminal attempt at sexual assault and possession of a dangerous weapon after allegedly attacking a 41-year-old woman walking on a road in New Canaan, according to the affidavit. Police said they found 146 pornographic photos, a letter describing a sexual assault and a pair of black nylons in his apartment while investigating that attack. In 1989, he was ordered to register as a sex offender for life.

Eventually, Karun moved to Stetson, Maine, a rural New England town where residents quickly registered their new neighbor was odd, according to the Bangor Daily News. He was known to stand at the top of his driveway and salute passing cars, make cross comments at town meetings and walk around with a blank stare, locals told the Daily News. 

Though he was out of sight, he was never out of mind for police in Connecticut, and on Thursday, they announced Karun’s arrest. 

Members of the Maine State Police Major Crime Unit and the Tactical Unit took Karun, now 53, into custody as he left his home Wednesday for the sexual assault and murder of Kathleen. He was being held at the Penobscot County Jail until his terms of extradition are determined.

Though authorities have not yet said how Karun’s arrest was finally made possible, the affidavit obtained by WCSH pointed to advances in DNA technology. 

Police reportedly linked Karun’s DNA, available through the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System, otherwise known as CODIS, to a pubic hair found on Kathleen, as well as to DNA found under one of her nails, the affidavit said.

“Kathleen Flynn struggled with her assailant in an effort to free herself of the ligature around her neck,” it said. “More recent DNA testing of the fingernail scraping from the left thumb found that Karun could not be eliminated as the source due to low likelihood ratios and was inconclusive but the same tests were able to eliminate two persons of interest [with] these same DNA profiles."

DNA technology also linked Karun to a May 1988 sexual assault of a woman attacked in her apartment. The man entered without forced entry, and authorities learned it was Karun’s former home, officials said. He was identified as a suspect in that case on March 26, 2018.

Karun’s arrest Wednesday came a little over a year after Kathleen’s father, Jim, died, an obituary for him showed. He was 76 when he “died peacefully at the Norwalk Hospital … surrounded by his family.” 

In lieu of flowers, his family asked at the time that donations be made to the scholarship fund created in Kathleen’s honor. 

At the time of her death, Kathleen was also remembered as part of a close-knit family, oftentimes helping with her older brother at their family’s seafood restaurant, Cap’n Henry’s. She was also remembered as a great student who excelled at both school and in religion class at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church. 

“This is a real together-type family,” Rev. Victor Martin, an associate pastor at the church, said at the time. “They were very happy.”

In a statement released after Karun’s arrest, Kathleen’s family expressed their appreciation for law enforcement’s hard work, but asked for privacy as they continue to grieve. 

“We wish to thank the Norwalk Police Department for bringing Kathleen’s murderer to justice,” her family said. “This continues to be a very difficult time for us and we do not wish to make any further comments.”

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