Delay Beach & Boca Raton, Florida,
On Saturday, March the 24th of 1984, highschool Freshman Karen Slattery had been babysitting for the Helms family; she was left in charge of two sisters aged 7 and 2 while their parents went on a date. The 14 year old babysat these little girls often, and was very comfortable in the Helms home; Karen had no reason to believe that this night would be different from any other time she’d babysat. She braided the sisters hair, played games with them, helped them into their pyjamas, and put the girls to bed when it was time. Around 10 pm Karen called her mama to check in; the teen stated that everything was fine, and that the girls’ parents were due to be home by midnight. Karen had no way of knowing a nightmare was about to unfold.
The man who would become Karen’s killer was already in the house with her. He’d arrived on a bicycle hours before, had cut a window screen, and had already been inside the home twice. The first time he’d cased the place but left to go have a few drinks while the children were awake. This man was quietly watching, and he was planning to strike the minute Karen hung up the phone with her mama.
When Mr and Mrs Helms came home from their date, they found blood everywhere; police were called and Karen’s mutilated corpse was discovered. She had been beaten, stabbed 18 times in the back and neck, and her throat had been slashed. The sadistic killer had dragged Karen by her feet into the master bedroom where she was raped; the teen had suffered a punctured lung, and young Karen literally drowned to death on her own blood.
The teen was found mostly nude, her shirt unbuttoned and bra pushed up to her neck. Before her killer left the home, he covered Karen’s face with a towel, cleaned himself up in the bathroom, and robbed the house.
Though it was evident that the killer had entered the room to check on them, the 2 little girls were left unharmed. It’s always been believed that the children had slept through it all, but recently a detective mentioned that the youngest child had spoken of a “bad Indian with blood on his mouth.”. It’s very possible that she did see something.
Police soon noticed similarities between what had happened to Karen and a recent attempted murder in the area. In February an 18 year old girl by the name of Marilee Manley had been beaten nearly to death with a wrench, she had been sexually assaulted, and left to die. Miraculously, Marilee lived to tell the tale; the next victim wouldn’t be as fortunate.
On May 28th our killer entered the Boca Raton home of 38 year old single mother Georgianna Worden after breaking through her window. Georgianna had been attacked as she lay on her bed reading a book; she was savagely bashed in the head with a hammer, and it’s been proven that Georgianna was raped with said hammer. Then the man strangled Georgianna so violently that her neck was actually broken. Before he left, the killer robbed the place, then covered Georgianna’s face and posed her nude body in a provocative manner for her children to find the next morning. It’s terrible what these kids, aged 13 and 9, were left to discover.
Investigators knew pretty quickly that they were dealing with the same man who had attacked Marilee and murdered Karen, the cases were all so similar. A man named Duane Owen was caught before he could kill again, which he definitely would have. He’d left evidence at his crime scenes, and during interrogation Duane did confess his crimes.
At trial Duane was convicted on two counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted murder, three counts of armed burglary, two counts of sexual battery with a deadly weapon, and one count of unarmed burglary. He was rightfully ordered to receive the death penalty twice, and multiple life without parole sentences.
For the past few years Duane has been working to get his sentences commuted to life. Today the killer claims his real issue had always been mental illness; he once told police that he sexually assaulted women in order to harvest their hormones. Duane claims that he was a “transsexual” (I know, not the correct terminology – his wording, not mine!) who carried out the attacks to “turn himself into a female.”.
Sure, Duane had survived a rough childhood; his parents were severe alcoholics who left their children to raise themselves most of the time. Mom had passed away while Duane and his brother were young and their father couldn’t cope, he committed suicide soon after; the boys then became wards of the state. As a young adult Duane was in trouble quite often for offenses such as robbery, substance abuse, those types of things, but more worrisome is the fact that he had already been stalking women. Duane was a peeping tom and a flasher who had been caught stealing women’s undergarments from women’s homes.
These days the killer says he’s not the same person he was at 24, and should not have to die since he’s a good person today. And maybe he’s not the same person; Duane has bettered himself, he’s studied physics and religion, and he’s attempted to educate himself. Florida has a new law which says the death penalty can only be handed out if the entire jury agrees with the sentencing. Duane’s jury voted 10-2 for death, and the judge was the one who imposed it. That having been said, it doesn’t appear that Florida is planning to give in to Duane’s requests. The assistant attorney general for the case says that Duane’s “delusion is fabricated.”. She has stated that the killer has “studied up on sexual disorders and believed that the more crazy the story the more people would believe that he is crazy. He has a sexual disorder and anti-social personality disorder, but he is not psychotic.”.
My personal opinion, I’d happily flip the switch myself in this case. Plain and simple, Duane is a sexual sadist who enjoyed what he did. I’m willing to bet he’d kill again at the earliest opportunity if given the chance.