Woman Is Homicide Victim, Sheriff's Office Says


ROCHESTER - The Thurston County Sheriff's Office said Tuesday the woman whose nude body was found off a county road at Rochester the day before likely died of homicidal trauma, but, for now, authorities won't reveal the specific nature of the injuries.

Karen L. Bodine, 37, a Thurston County resident, was spotted by a passing motorist along Littlerock Road about an hour after sunrise on Monday. Her unclothed body lay on its back at an unused gravel pit; her head was resting on a discarded car seat.

The type of trauma Bodine sustained may be known only by her killer, the sheriff's office said, and disclosing that could jeopardize detectives' ability to solve the crime.

BODINE'S DEATH is the second homicide in Thurston County already this year, but it's not like anything sheriff's Lt. Chris Mealy can recall in 20 years on the job, Mealy said.

Mealy, a spokesperson for the office, offered few details on Tuesday about the case. When asked if the sheriff's office had any suspects on Tuesday afternoon, he said only "the investigation is continuing as we speak."

Officers had interviewed dozens of people, he said.

AUTHORITIES HAVE SAID Bodine was somewhat transient. They don't know where she was living, only that it was not with her parents in Olympia, and that she had stayed with friends in north Thurston County.

When detectives examined her body and the scene on Monday, they said they could see no obvious injury or wounds that could have caused her death, nor indications of sexual assault. There were what Mealy called suspicious marks all over her, but he declined to attempt to describe them in more detail. No clothing, purse or wallet turned up in a search.

Detectives preliminarily believed somebody dumped her body there sometime after dark on Sunday night, and suspected she'd died not long before.

An autopsy was performed on Tuesday. The exact cause of death won't be released until toxicology tests are completed, according to Mealy. That could take four to six weeks, the lieutenant said.

The tests can show if a person has legal or illegal drugs in his or her system, and "tells you a lot about what chemicals are in the body," Mealy said.

For now, Thurston County detectives are attempting to piece together what Bodine was doing in the time before her death.

"We're trying to find out her movements, what she did, who she was with," Mealy said.

Bodine was contacted in Lacey on Sunday by a Lacey police officer after officers were asked to check on her welfare. No further details of that encounter have been released.

She had been in trouble with the law before, but not for anything violent or very serious, according to Mealy. She was the respondent in some type of court order, he said.

THE WOODED AREA where Bodine was found is four miles north of U.S. Highway 12 at Rochester, less than a quarter of a mile from the north end of Sargent Road. It's known as a place for deer and duck hunting. The particular spot, a cleared entrance to a gravel pit, is known as a place where stolen cars and other debris are illegally dumped.

Mealy declined to speculate if the individual responsible for Bodine's death was somebody she knew or a stranger, or if Thurston County might have a serial killer case, but he admitted that's "in the back of our minds."

Sharyn L. Decker covers law enforcement, local fire departments and the courts for The Chronicle. She may be reached by e-mail at sdecker@chronline.com, or by telephoning 807-8235.