Killer ID’d in 1976 murder of Karen Klaas, ex-wife of Righteous Brothers singer: authorities

Posted at 12:18 AM, Jan 31, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-31 00:18:28-05

LOS ANGELES – On the 41st anniversary of the brutal sexual assault and murder of Karen Klaas, ex-wife of Righteous Brothers singer Bill Medley, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department announced the name of her alleged killer.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department identified Eugene Troyer as the killer of Karen Klaas in 1976. (

At a news conference on Monday, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said Kenneth Eugene Troyer was responsible for Klaas' death, according to KTLA. He was identified through familial DNA, investigators said.

Troyer, who was 29 when Klaas was attacked on Jan. 30, 1976, was fatally shot by police in March 1982 after he escaped from a prison in San Luis Obispo where he had been serving time for burglary.

Karen Klaas is seen in an image provided by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department on Jan. 30, 2017.

Klaas, a 32-year-old mother of two small children, was found sexually assaulted, strangled and unconscious inside her Hermosa Beach home on Jan. 30, 1976.

Moments before she was attacked, Klaas had returned to her home after taking her 4-year-old son to school. Concerned friends who were supposed to meet Klaas that morning went to check on her and called police after seeing a man walk out of her home.

Klaas was in a coma for five days and died from her injuries on Feb. 4, 1976.

Her family spent more than four decades wondering who was responsible for her tragic death.

"For us this was a book for us that never had the last chapter," Damien Klaas, Karen's son, said Monday. "To be able to have the full story is very important."

"After looking at different people for 40 years, it's a real out-of-body experience," Bill Medley, Klaas' ex-husband, added.

At Monday's news conference sheriff's officials touted advancements in familial DNA, which can lead detectives to a relative and ultimately a suspect, as the tool investigators used to help crack the unsolved case.

"Over the years, they were relentless and used every measure within their power to bring clarity, justice and closure to Karen Klaas and her family," Sheriff Jim McDonnell said.

Investigators first did a familial DNA search in 2011 but did not find a match. When they tried it again in 2016, they got a match to a male relative of Troyer who had committed a crime and resulted in the collection of his DNA.

"It gives closure to the family and it shows science and good old-fashioned police work come together and help serve the public," McDonnell added.