In November 1980, 21-year-old Karen Umphrey was found murdered in the State Game Area of Beards Hills, Michigan near Port Huron. Port Huron is the county seat of St. Clair County. The identity of the person responsible for Karen’s death was not known and despite investigators attempts to identify the killer, the case went cold. For more than four decades, investigators continued their pursuit to identify the person responsible for Karen’s death.
In 2022, the Michigan State Police submitted forensic DNA evidence from the crime scene to Othram. Othram scientists used Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing® to develop a comprehensive genealogical profile from the DNA of the unknown contributor that was discovered at the crime scene in 1980. Othram's in-house forensic genetic genealogy team used the genealogical profile to produce investigative leads. Othram returned the investigative leads to the Michigan State Police and they worked with St. Clair County Sheriff Department investigators to continue the investigation.
St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office detectives spoke to many people that were connected to the victim or the suspect in the 1980s, gathering information, and making vital connections. This follow up investigation led to the identification of Douglas Laming as the suspect in Karen’s murder. Laming is now 70 years-old and from Fort Gratiot, Michigan. Laming was arrested on December 15, 2023 and has been charged with first-degree murder, punishable with up to life in prison. He was arraigned Sunday, December 17, 2023 and is expected to appear in court for a probable cause conference on December 26, 2023.
The case is ongoing and we will update this story as more information becomes available.