Sisters still searching for answers in May 2013 murder of Karen Bellinger Canestaro

“We’re all so shut,” Mary Courtright informed Dateline about her household. Born and raised in Elmira, New York, Mary is the oldest of John and Dorothy Bellinger’s 4 youngsters, all ladies.

The Bellinger siblings.
The Bellinger siblings.Mary Courtright

After Mary it went Kathy, then Elizabeth and eventually the youngest, Karen. “She was lots youthful than the three of us,” Mary informed Dateline. “She was the infant.”

“I’m 10 years older than Karen,” Mary stated. “And I’m 9,” sister Kathy Losito added.

The sisters had a typical childhood. “Life was a lot easier,” Kathy remembered. “We performed outdoors till it bought darkish.”

Mary informed Dateline the Bellinger bunch was extraordinarily tight-knit, and they’d typically take household journeys. “We would camp,” Kathy stated. “We used to go to Gettysburg not less than twice a yr.” Kathy stated her father is a large Civil War buff, so Gettysburg was all the time a compulsory go to.

The Bellinger siblings.
The Bellinger siblings.Mary Courtright

But the most important trip the household ever took was to Disney World in 1975. Mary stated the sisters have been very excited in regards to the tour. “Karen was little,” Kathy informed Dateline. “That was enjoyable.”

The sisters grew up and began households of their very own. “[Karen] was married,” Kathy stated. “She has two children and 4 grandchildren now.”

The sisters informed Dateline that Karen and her husband have been highschool sweethearts. The couple finally married and moved out of Elmira. “They have been a navy household,” Mary stated. “So they moved round lots.”

Mary informed Dateline that in 2005, after Karen’s husband retired, the couple moved again to their hometown. They settled right into a home a pair of miles from the home Karen grew up in, the place John and Dorothy Bellinger still stay as we speak.

Not lengthy after the couple moved again to Elmira points started to floor, in response to Karen’s older sisters.

“She was consuming,” Kathy recalled. “I believe youngster protecting companies was known as,” Mary added. The sisters informed Dateline that Karen had been battling alcohol abuse and on March 29, 2013, she was kicked out of the home. “Her husband had her faraway from her house,” Kathy informed Dateline. Karen moved again in with their mother and father.

Karen Bellinger Canestaro with her parents.
Karen Bellinger Canestaro along with her mother and father.

Kathy informed Dateline that Karen “was OK” when she first moved again to Elmira. The sisters stated that she would drink socially, nevertheless it by no means bought out of hand. It wasn’t till 2012 that the household began to note a change. “It bought actually unhealthy,” Mary stated.

The sisters informed Dateline that Karen suffered from well being points and was coping with issues in her marriage. “I believe that every one contributed to it,” Kathy stated of her sister’s elevated use of alcohol. Dateline tried to succeed in Karen’s husband for remark, however was unsuccessful.

In May of 2013, Karen was still residing at her mother and father’ home. “She was depressed,” sister Kathy stated. “She spent lots of time strolling the streets,” Mary stated, noting that Karen didn’t have a automotive. Most of all, Kathy stated, Karen was struggling being away from her two youngsters. Both of the kids have been born in April and he or she was unable to have a good time their birthdays with them. “She was simply so distraught,” Mary stated.

Mary informed Dateline that on May 6, 2013, Karen had dinner along with her mother and father and shortly after, went out for a stroll. But, Mary stated, “She by no means returned house that night time.”

The sisters stated Karen all the time returned house, so when she wasn’t there the following morning — their mother and father have been alarmed. “My mom known as all her pals and so they drove across the neighborhood,” Mary informed Dateline.

While driving, the sisters stated their mom noticed a police presence close to Newtown Creek in Elmira however, initially, didn’t assume something of it. “There had been a taking pictures the night time earlier than not too removed from there,” Kathy stated. Their mom thought it might have one thing to do with that.

But Kathy stated that her mom began to have a foul feeling about what she had seen, so she circled and made her method again to the scene close to Newtown Creek.

Someone Karen went to high school with was already there.

“My mom requested her, ‘What’s happening?’” Kathy informed Dateline. “She stated, ‘He discovered a girls’s physique. Her title is Karen.’”

Newtown Creek.
Newtown Creek.Mary Courtright

It was her daughter. Karen Bellinger Canestaro’s physique was discovered on May 7, 2013, close to Newtown Creek. “She wasn’t in the creeks,” Kathy stated. “It was like a tributary going into the creek.” The sisters have been aware of the realm and stated they used to play there as children.

Initially, the medical expert didn’t launch an official trigger of loss of life. “We simply thought that she possibly died of pure causes,” Kathy stated.

Kathy informed Dateline that it wasn’t till she returned to the scene along with her father to plant a cross for Karen, that their household began to assume her loss of life wasn’t an accident. Karen was discovered in a “little bit of water,” nevertheless it “wasn’t that deep,” Kathy stated. “The little waterway that she was in was dammed off, so I knew one thing was flawed.”

The sisters stated it wasn’t till January 2014, that they discovered their sister’s trigger of loss of life. Karen had drowned and her loss of life had been dominated a murder.

Dateline spoke with Ronald Gunn, the Elmira Police Department investigator assigned to Karen’s case. He informed Dateline in an electronic mail that Karen was final seen in the “late night to early morning hours” on May 7, 2013, close to her mother and father’ home. He added that Karen’s official trigger of loss of life was drowning and that the “medical expert’s workplace carried out an post-mortem and dominated the trigger of loss of life a murder.” Investigator Gunn informed Dateline that there are a “few folks of curiosity” in Karen’s case however wouldn’t elaborate.

Karen's cross.
Karen’s cross.Mary Courtright

Although it has been nearly a decade since Karen died, her sisters informed Dateline they’ll by no means cease preventing for justice. They run the ‘Justice for Karen Bellinger Canestaro’ Facebook web page and proceed to publish about Karen, hoping somebody will present info that might assist resolve her case. As they approached the ninth anniversary of Karen’s loss of life, the household posted that they positioned a brand new cross close to the realm the place Karen’s physique was discovered. The Bellinger household can be providing a $10,000 reward for any info resulting in the arrest and conviction of the individual(s) accountable for Karen’s loss of life.

Anyone with details about Karen’s case is requested to contact Investigator Ronald Gunn of the Elmira Police Department at 607-737-5613. You can even electronic mail

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