Veteran's network helps identify Delaware County murder victim from 1978

The victim, an airman, had been discharged from McGuire Air Force Base but never returned home.

Beccah Hendrickson Image
Monday, March 28, 2022
Veteran's network helps identify Delco murder victim from 1978
Authorities in Delaware County say human remains discovered more than four decades ago have finally been identified.

RIDLEY TOWNSHIP, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Investigators in Delaware County have made a major breakthrough in a 44-year-old cold case after an internet sleuth helped identify the murder victim.

The district attorney and Ridley Township police announced that the John Doe found dead on December 13, 1978 is Kevin Carroll, an 18-year-old airman who had been discharged from service in New Jersey shortly before his murder.

Still, with this identification comes more questions, including: who killed Carroll?

"They may not have been willing to talk in 1978 or even 1998, but they may be willing to talk today," said District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer.

At the time, in 1978, Carroll had been discharged from McGuire Air Force Base near Trenton, New Jersey and had sent all of his belongings home to Oregon.

He never made it home.

Kevin Alvin Jude Carroll

"Hopefully that humanizes this to the extent that somebody who does know something, and there is somebody who does know something, will come forward," said Stollsteimer.

Ridley Township Police found Carroll shot dead in Crum Creek. Unable to identify him at the time, police released a composite sketch.

The case went cold until, decades later, an internet sleuth found the profile on NamUs, the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.

"The blood type is matching, the scar is matching, the age is matching, the height is matching, the hair color, the eyebrows," said Amelia Pearn who runs the website Veteran Doe, which helps track down missing servicemen and women.

She'd been trying to find out what happened to Carroll for four years.

"It was really the mass transit. He was by the airport, so I kept thinking: how would Kevin be traveling, because there's a lot of space between New Jersey and Oregon. So he had to be flying, I was thinking," she said.

When she thought she had a match in late 2021, she called police. Investigators made the positive ID last week, a major breakthrough in the case.

"It's always satisfying to at least be able to give them some answers," said Pearn.

The sheriff's office in Marion County, Oregon, where Carroll was from, is also aiding in the investigation. Deputies there say they have been in contact with Carroll's family, who still lives in the area.

Anyone with further information on this case is asked to call Ridley Township Police at 610-532-4000.