Kathleen Flynn: 11-Year-Old Murdered in Connecticut in 1986

Published: Updated: 50 comments

UPDATE: Police arrest man in Kathleen Flynn’s murder; here is another link https://www.murdershetold.com/episodes/marc-karun


In September 1986, The Oprah Winfrey Show began broadcasting across the United States. Top Gun, Stand By Me, and Crocodile Dundee topped the box office chart, while the love song from Top Gun, “Take My Breath Away,” hit number one on the Billboard list. Beloved shows like Cheers and Golden Girls made us laugh hysterically from the comfort of our homes.

The 80s was a great decade to be alive and young. 

Tuesday, September 23, 1986, was the official first day of fall, and leaves on the trees turned red, yellow, orange, and brown in the small New England coastal town of Norwalk, Connecticut. On this same day, 11-year-old Kathleen Flynn attended the Ponus Ridge Middle School until school was dismissed at 2:40 p.m. Afterwards, she headed for the paved path through the woods next to her school to walk the short distance to her house. Kathleen never made it home. At 3:30 a.m. the following morning, the young girl was found dead. She had been raped and strangled.

When she was last seen walking into the woods, soccer and field hockey teams were practicing nearby at the school’s athletic fields, and hundreds of students and parents swarmed the school grounds.

Not one person saw or heard a thing, but the police received hundreds of tips.

The hottest lead came from a student, who told detectives he saw three men confront Kathleen in the woods. He provided a detailed description of two of them. Months later, detectives confronted the boy with their suspicions that the story was made up. He admitted the lie. The FBI was called in within days of the killing to compare the crime against a national database of violent crimes. Local detectives tracked down every known sex offender and determined their whereabouts on the afternoon of Sept. 23. In all, detectives interviewed about 50 men who were suspects, in the loosest sense of the word. Police in nearby Westchester, N.Y., forwarded a thick file on their sex offenders. It included details on men arrested for everything from rape to public urination (Pazniokas, 2000).

None of it led to an arrest. In 2000, authorities announced they had a suspect but did not release the person’s name. They also announced mitochondrial DNA testing of hairs found at the crime scene would be performed. It is unclear what the results were from that testing.

As far as I can tell, Kathleen’s parents, Jim and Esther Flynn, are still alive and reside in the same house they shared with Kathleen and their son, James.

True Crime Diva’s Thoughts

One thing that stands out to me is the boldness of the crime – committed with many people nearby in broad daylight. The killer was not worried about anyone finding them. He must have been one hell of a cocky asshole. Didn’t other kids who lived nearby walk this path? It is a wooded area, so he probably took her off the trail and into the woods where they could be hidden from view. If other children were walking this route, how did the killer grab Kathleen without being seen? Could she have known her killer?

Did the killer single Kathleen out, or was he waiting for any child to come along on the path? Did he live in the same neighborhood as Kathleen? Was there more than one killer?

Whoever killed her knew when school let out, so did he live in the area? Have a kid at the same school?

At the time of Kathleen’s murder, her father, James, owned a restaurant in Rowayton, CT called Cap’n Henry’s. Maybe the killer saw Kathleen there and stalked her. I read that Kathleen and her older brother, James, worked at the restaurant from time to time.

I also read that Kathleen normally did not walk through the woods on her way home from school, so why did she do so this time? And if she didn’t, and she was singled out, how did her killer know she would be walking that way? Maybe she was lured there somehow by her killer.

This case is very similar to the Michelle Norris case I published on February 23, 2016. 

Source: Pazniokas, Mark. ‘Girl’s Death Leaves Only Questions, Grief.’ tribunedigital-thecourant. N.P., 2007. Web. 16 July 2015.

50 comments

Liz August 19, 2016 - 10:54 PM

The local police department made sure this case did not get solved. Pedos are the police.

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Liz Bozzo August 19, 2016 - 4:02 PM

It was a Norwalk cop. Pretty obvious

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Christine March 1, 2016 - 6:00 PM

I remember eating with her at her parents restaurant, especially in the summer. She was sweet and we were about the same age, I always looked forward to seeing her when we went. Her poor family deserves justice, even after all these years!

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TWright February 29, 2016 - 3:27 PM

Wow i remember this story never ever forgot it . So sad. I heard about itwas so sad. She alwsys kept a smile.

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Jason Crowell February 28, 2016 - 12:48 PM

I was also a student at ponus at the time this happened although i waa not a freind of hers. Many of us including myself walked that path daily. I remember how different everything was after this unfortunate tragedy and how much of a mystery it was. There was a lot of talk about a green impala (if my memory serves correct) being connected…be nice to hear this case got solved.

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truecrimediva February 29, 2016 - 11:33 AM

It’s weird that nobody saw a thing when so many students walked that path.

It would be so wonderful to get solved. I hope it does someday.

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Mel Tay February 28, 2016 - 10:41 AM

I remember the story like yesterday. Kathleen was a classmate of mine. Spoke to her everyday. After she was killed it stayed fresh in my mind. I go past that path sometimes & I explained to my 8 year old son what happened. I want him to know, if he ever comes across anyone that threatens him or his family, he tells no matter what (because I heard a different story). I want them to still find justice still after 30 years cause I know her family still wants closer. The why’s have never been answered for them. I still say it was someone she knew & that faulty story that was giving to the police might be the one that knows a little more then he told. Just because of this case I chose to go in the field of Criminal Justice. It still saddens my heart that she was killed in such a horrific way. S.I.P Miss Kathleen Flynn. Gone but never forgot that beautiful smile & that nice & kind person you were. You rest, no matter how long it takes, justice will be served. If not by the police, God will handle them. 😥😪😢😪😓😪😥😢. I’m so sad about this story.

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TWright February 29, 2016 - 3:31 PM

This story was so sad and still is im pissed it have not been solved.

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Temeka February 29, 2016 - 6:21 PM

I remember too. I was a student at Roton, scared because we too, took shortcuts. Never knew if the killer was serial and wpoukd strike again. It made me very leary of everyone. Rip Kathleen Flynn.. I never forgot either!

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Unsettled February 28, 2016 - 8:15 AM

Will never forget that day. Sad to read all the comments on here and the things that were reported and not followed up on. I remember that day so clear when my mom yelled for me and said the police were on the phone. Asking if she had come to our house after school or if I knew where she was. They had my number from her address book. That night I stayed up all night sitting in the middle of the hallway away from all the windows in the house. I was so scared and then on the bus ride to school pulling in to Ponus and people started to chatter and confirm the worst. It was a very sad somer day. They had a mass counseling thing for all of us in the auditorium that I remember to deal with the shock. To this day I go online and do searches to see if there is ever any progress or new information in finding her killer. Something very unsettling with me about it all. Have never been able to figure it out but it just stays with me. RIP Kathleen

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Christa February 27, 2016 - 11:06 PM

Mary Mount was kilked on the Norwalk /New Canaan line. Someone who worked at a school in New Canaan as a custodian I believe was suspected in her murder.
As someone living in the Ponus neighborhood I want to clarify that is NOT where Mary Mount was murdered.
I was young and living in Silvermine when that happened to Mary and I can still remember being so scared by seeing police searching the woods for her.
So very sad for Kathleen’s family. There isn’t a day I walk my dog past the path that I don’t think of her horrible ordeal and say a prayer for both her and her family.

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Annette L. February 27, 2016 - 9:29 AM

This day will forever be etched in my memory, I wish it wasn’t such a tragic one. I was a classmate of hers. While I didn’t know Kahleen it was a horrible, sad time for everyone. Arriving at school that morning to the scene that awaited seemed surreal. It explained all the police activity in my neighbourhood the night before which had everyone curious. I hope one day her family gets the answers they need.

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truecrimediva February 27, 2016 - 9:42 AM

That must’ve been awful. I also hope they get answers one day.

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Annette L. February 27, 2016 - 4:02 PM

I thought at one point someone they suspected was later jailed for another crime. I also heard her parents continued to check in with the police often, or at least did for a few years. Not sure if either of those things are true.

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truecrimediva February 27, 2016 - 4:21 PM

I’m sure they did. But getting no answers after so many years was probably hard to take. I can’t even imagine what they went through. 🙁

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I remember February 27, 2016 - 8:36 AM

It was more than one person. They had evidence that she was raped by more then one person. I believe they said at least three. If my memory serves me right, her body was found partially under a rotting log and leaves. And I agree with Justice, word was that the police do know who did it and have chosen to leave things as they are. There was also rumors that it wasn’t random.

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truecrimediva February 27, 2016 - 8:57 AM

Hmmm, that is interesting. That poor girl…What she went through. Wish I could get my hands on her killer or killers.

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Mel Tay February 28, 2016 - 10:50 AM

Yes her body was found the way you described. I heard the same thing about the police, they knew who it was. I heard she was being stalked by these guys ever since her last year of elementary school. But of course the police were paid 2 leave this story alone. Why? 1 because it was another kid she knew involved again so called related to her & 2 because it would have bought so much negative publicity to Norwalk & would have expose the family member that did it. I swear this guys face is still in my mind. I can see him as a killer & he was always around her. For someone that never took that path & then this day she did, come on she had 2 go with someone she was comfortable with & knew. The story don’t add up & that’s because the police have already put 2 & 2 together & covered it up. Justice still needs 2 b served.

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Sparrow1 February 27, 2016 - 8:16 AM

I’ll never forget. So much sorrow.

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truecrimediva February 27, 2016 - 8:57 AM

I can’t even imagine. 🙁

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Justice February 27, 2016 - 7:41 AM

I was told who did it…it slipped out of their mouths in front of a friend of mine….they were going to beat my friend up and take his leather jacket and one of them said let’s kill him like we did that Flynn girl. When the assailant said that both assailants started arguing and fighting because he opened his mouth and said that. I told police years ago, they said they didn’t have any strong evidence,that they had looked into those two guys years ago as suspects..bottom line is, there is no evidence to convict…they know exactly who did it. I grew up with Jimmy, we were alter boys together…we walked down that very same path many of times. Sad day for Norwalk. No justice for Kathleen.

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Mel Tay February 28, 2016 - 9:42 AM

That is so sad. I heard they knew 2. The NPD wasn’t good then & still aren’t. She was in my class such a sweet young girl. I hope God punishes the killer(s) 4 what they did to this innocent girl.. I still am looking 4 justice.

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TWright February 29, 2016 - 3:35 PM

Thats craxy they know and made no arrest but alwsys harassing people. Smh

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Mike A February 27, 2016 - 12:30 AM

I can answer one questiom you asked. My sister was a classmate of Kathleen. She was to show my sister that path home, as a short cut, because we lived at the other end. At the time, I had caused some issue that meant my mom was called to school. Being we were in the same school and mom had to pick me up, it was decided last second that my sister was riding with us too. Somehow, the message did not get to Kathy until we were gone and she was left to walk home alone.

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truecrimediva February 27, 2016 - 8:58 AM

Oh man. If only she had gotten that message. 🙁

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Angel February 26, 2016 - 5:26 PM

I was Mrs. Lynn’s high school student and was in class with her on that day when she found out that her daughter was missing. It was devastating. I always think about her.

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truecrimediva February 26, 2016 - 7:47 PM

Thanks for commenting, Angel. That had to have been horrible. I really feel for you, her family and the entire community there. I hope justice is served one day.

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Mel Tay February 28, 2016 - 9:46 AM

I think about Kathleen all the time.. We use 2 have conversations all the time. I would start them cause she was a little shy but loved to smile.

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Dawn February 26, 2016 - 1:05 PM

We were friends with the Flynns and my dad was a pallbearer at her funeral. Still do not know why this seems to be a forgotten case! Great family and she was an awesome young girl and I think of her and her family often. Thank you for bringing this to light again!

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truecrimediva February 26, 2016 - 5:16 PM

You’re welcome! I was more than happy to write about Kathleen.

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Claudia Ginter February 26, 2016 - 12:44 PM

There are several unsolved murders in CT. In Greenwich Mathew Margolis and a young woman I knew named Kim Klein. Both never resolved. Martha Moxleys mother was kind enough to post their stories and photos on Martha’s site. If it were not for her tenacity and dedication that murder may have never been solved either. Let’s say a prayer for all of them.
MarthaMoxley.com

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truecrimediva February 26, 2016 - 5:17 PM

I completely agree!

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Mel Tay February 28, 2016 - 9:48 AM

I remember the murders & in 88 my mom relocated us to SC. It was to much going on in CT

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Jenn February 25, 2016 - 9:35 PM

I was also a student there at this time & my parents knew her’s. I never walked that path again and when my children started school there, they knew not to go in there, they’ve been told Kathleen’s story many times. As Jay said, the police & news were at school the next day, an announcement was made regarding what happened. It’s horrible to think of what Kathleen went through and no one has been charged yet.

Also, the other comment is correct…the path was on the other side & went out to Hunters Lane.

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truecrimediva February 25, 2016 - 9:39 PM

I don’t blame you one bit for not allowing your kids to walk through there. Better to be safe than sorry. Unfortunately, that’s the world we live in.

Oh, and thanks for confirming the correction! 🙂

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Mel Tay February 28, 2016 - 10:09 AM

This is so fresh in my mind 2 this day. It’s so sad that kids aren’t safe not even from school. I just wish there was justice for Kathleen & her family.

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Cindy February 25, 2016 - 9:03 PM

The wrong path is circled. The path is on the other side of the field, up closer to the road. To the left of the field facing out from the school.

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truecrimediva February 25, 2016 - 9:14 PM

Ok thanks. I wasn’t sure this was the correct one or not. I’ll make the changes this weekend when I have more time

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MB February 25, 2016 - 7:55 PM

Years before this (70’s) there was a girl murdered in the same spot. Mary Mount. Never found her killer either as far as I know.

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Anne February 26, 2016 - 7:17 AM

I believe they think John Rice killed
Mary Mount. He killed his mother & his grandmother was still barely alive and told the police it was john who tried to kill them. The police found bite marks on johns mother and on Mary Mount also.

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Kip February 26, 2016 - 12:11 PM

I thought Mary Mount was killed on the West Norwalk/New Canaan border at a school there…??

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Mel Tay February 28, 2016 - 10:13 AM

Oh wow I never knew someone else got killed there 2. Personally I think it was someone she knew. The fact that no 1 was found has to be someone close to home. They have no conscious all these years later & not nothing. The police need to do a better job on murders & stop worrying about busting ppl for drugs.

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Berlin Baum December 21, 2015 - 9:44 PM

Serial killer watching , stalking
Made his move. What is truly scary is that there’s so many of them and we have no idea could be your neighbor your dentist your significant other.

I just scared myself lol rest in peace to this angel the person involved will have karma in this life or the next.

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Mel Tay February 28, 2016 - 10:14 AM

Amen their Karma may never stop.

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Jay November 8, 2015 - 1:19 PM

I was a classmate of Kathleen Flynn and I’m still haunted by her death. I still think about her from time to time… I remember arriving to school the following day and seeing police officers walking around. I will never forget that day our childhood innocence was taken away. May God continue to watch over her family.

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Mel Tay February 28, 2016 - 10:18 AM

Yes I was a classmate 2. & I remember they made us do whatever we did the day b4 to see if anything jogged our memories. I had detention so I had 2 repeat my detention. We was in the same class & I remember her smile & waving goodbye as we departed school that day. Never knew it would be the last time I saw her. We weren’t friends but I did talk to her all the time when we was in class. This murder made me go n2 the Criminal Justice field. S.I.P Kathleen Flynn.

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Manda July 21, 2015 - 12:53 PM

It just blows my mind how many potential witnesses there were for this crime. Not that any of them were at fault, who thinks to pay attention like that? I agree with superunknown about him watching for a while before striking. The question is, was it her specifically, or was it that she was the opportunity he saw and grabbed? I also agree he had a weapon. That or, it was someone she knew and trusted? This not knowing is frustrating and I can’t begin to imagine her family not knowing. I hope they get answers soon.

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Mel Tay February 28, 2016 - 10:21 AM

I agree. I think it was someone she trusted and known. I swear there was this 1 guy that was in our class at the time, really creepy & kept saying she was his cousin. It was always in the back of my mind that he did it. He talked about this 4 awhile & you know how u get an uneasy feeling about some1 well this is how I felt. Wondering if he was the one that gave the police that story he made up.

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superunknown July 18, 2015 - 9:16 PM

It’s kind of like bill murry in groundhog day. You pay attention, see your opening and make your move. I think it was random more like I’ll just go to a school and grab a kid oh look that path gives me great cover none of those stupid morons at the game will even see me. It’s very similar to the Sarah Pryor murder. I think he had a weapon, if you yell I’ll kill you, even though in the perps mind she’s already dead.

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truecrimediva July 18, 2015 - 10:04 PM

Excellent points! And I agree about the weapon.

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True Crime Diva

True Crime Diva

I've blogged true crime since 2010, happily taking up only a tiny corner of the internet. I'm not here for attention; I'm here to tell you their stories.

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