TO VIEW THE DOCUMENTARY, PRESS PLAY ON THE VIDEO ABOVE
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — In the summer of 1994, two teen girls who lived hours apart were murdered, their bodies dumped in the woods near Berlin Lake.
Over the last few decades, investigators from Pennsylvania, Ohio and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have tried to find a connection to the two mysterious deaths and answer the question: Who killed Sarah Boehm and Kathryn Menendez?
Fourteen-year-old Boehm walked out of her Beaver County, Pennsylvania home one night in July 1994. She lived on Mellon Avenue with her mother and brother in Rochester Township, a community along the Ohio River.
Retired FBI Agent Tom Carter described Boehm’s personality as “quiet” and “reserved.”
“Some people have described her as always having her head down, never look you in the eye. Kind of very shy, intimidating person, easily intimidated person,” Carter said.
Her mother at work that night in ‘94, Boehm told her brother she was going to her neighbor Jennifer’s house. Later on, Jennifer told investigators Boehm asked to come over, but Jennifer said no because she was with family.
No one knows where Boehm was really headed that night.
She had a counseling appointment the next morning that she didn’t show up for. So, it wasn’t until the next day her family realized she was missing.
“That’s when the searches started. That’s when Rochester Township PD was contacted the very next day,” Carter said.
Rochester police worked the case the first few years, 1994 to 1999. The chief did not want to be part of this story.
In reality, Boehm wasn’t alive. She hadn’t been for a while. Hunters found her decomposed body in November of 1994 in the woods near Berlin Lake – a brutal murder. The body found in Ohio wasn’t connected to the missing girl from Rochester for years. It remained unidentified.
Boehm’s missing person search continued. In 1999, the Beaver County District Attorney’s office was asked to join the investigation. Investigators had leads from every state, hundreds of them to follow up on.
“We also continued over here to canvass the area with Rochester Township and follow the leads that they had already began in their investigation, just to re-go-over everything that had been done since 1994,” explained Detective Staub, with the Beaver County DA’s office.
Search parties looked for Boehm. Investigators excavated the floor from her father’s second home next door to where she lived with her mother. They tore walls down. They never found what they were looking for.
Plenty of people claimed to have spotted Boehm over the years, though none really did.
In 2000, a now-retired Beaver County detective working the case along with Staub searched the Jane Doe Network for any unidentified bodies that could match Boehm. She saw remains of an unidentified body, one found in Berlin Lake that was boxed up in the Cuyahoga County Coroner’s office. That’s when the FBI and Agent Carter got involved.
As it turned out, the detective was right. It was Boehm. A positive ID came in 2003. After years of looking into a missing person’s case, Boehm’s death became a homicide investigation.
“Initial autopsy manner of death was ruled violent homicide, unknown cause,” Carter said.
“We’ve been trying to narrow this case down for 20 years. It’s just one of those cases that defies being narrowed down at this point,” Staub added.
Back in 1994, Boehm’s body was found just a stone’s throw away from another teenage girl’s body, 17-year-old Kathryn Menendez, of Alliance. Menendez went missing in August, and her body was found three days later, a few hundred yards from where Boehm would be found in November.
Menendez was stabbed, strangled and bludgeoned. She was dumped with no clothes on. Investigators believe she was killed somewhere else and dumped in the woods. They also believe Boehm’s body was already there when Menendez was found, though the hunters wouldn’t discover it for two-and-a-half months.
Investigators don’t have a solid link between the two murders and haven’t been able to figure out how two teens living two hours apart were killed and dumped beside each other within weeks of each other.
Because of the complexity of this case, the documentary in the video above was put together with every piece of information on the cases.
We look into both girls — their disappearances, deaths and what investigators can tell us about the case. We examine the likelihood that the deaths are connected. We also look into a mysterious note left in Boehm’s room, found days after she went missing, that could just as easily have been torn from a journal, alluding to an older abusive boyfriend who investigators have never been able to find.
The Pittsburgh FBI is asking for tips in the case. If you can help, call (412) 432-4000.