Karen Elisa Grammer

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Karen Elisa Grammer

New Jersey, USA
Death 1 Jul 1975 (aged 18)
Colorado Springs, El Paso County, Colorado, USA
Burial Unknown
Memorial ID 6868754 View Source
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Karen Elisa Grammer is the younger sister of actor Kelsey Grammer.

In 1975, Karen was abducted, raped, and murdered by Freddie Lee Glenn, Larry Dunn, and McLeod (NFI) after a failed robbery attempt.

Karen's murder is detailed in two recent books (referenced below). The two books differ slightly in the details, but the elements in common are that Glenn and the two other men attempted to rob the Red Lobster restaurant on South Academy Boulevard in Colorado Springs where Karen worked as a waitress. They left without any money, but as they left they abducted Karen, 18 yrs old, at gunpoint because -- they would claim in court -- they feared she might be able to identify them (she was sitting on the curb outside, waiting for her boyfriend to finish work at the time).

Glenn bound Karen's hands and held her in backseat of the car while the trio went on to rob a 7-Eleven and another convenience store before taking her to McLeod's apartment where she was subsequently raped. According to court records, after promising to take her home, the men placed her in the car and drove a short distance to a nearby trailer park and down a blind, dirt alleyway. Glen then placed a black cloth bag over her head and dragged her from the car. Forcing her to her knees and standing behind her, he ordered her to, "Raise up your head". He then thrust a kitchen knife into her throat. Leaving her for dead in the alleyway, the trio returned to the apartment to divide the money from the earlier robberies. While Karen eventually bled to death from her wounds, it was not before she crawled some fifty yards from the alleyway to the trailer park manager's door where she left bloodied handprints on the wall just inches below the doorbell she desperately tried to reach. She died on that doorstep and was found there the next morning.

Glenn -- who was 19 yrs old at the time -- was convicted of Karen's murder in El Paso County District Court, Colorado, on May 7, 1976, and sentenced to die. However, after a series of US Supreme Court rulings that questioned the application of capital punishment in some states, the State of Colorado, in 1978, commuted his death sentence to life imprisonment. In addition to slaying Karen, Glenn was convicted and is serving time for his role alongside Michael Corbett in the June 19, 1975, slaying of 28 yr old motel cook Daniel Van Lone during a robbery and the June 27, 1975, slaying of 19 yr old Army soldier Winfred Proffitt during a supposed drug deal. Glenn is currently serving his sentence at the Bent County Correctional Facility in Las Animas, Colorado.

Glenn, a convert to Islam, took the name Siyani Funsani Masamba. Siyani Funsani Masamba, now 52, was eligible for parole in 2009. Kelsey Gammer wrote an impassioned letter to Robert Russel, the retired El Paso and Teller County Colorado District Attorney, who successfully prosecuted Glenn for Karen's murder, to be read at the hearing. Some of Grammer's letter read as follows (the full text of the letter can be read in the image at right):

"She was so smart and good and decent. She wrote poetry and loved being alive; we could laugh for hours together, she had the greatest smile. She was my best friend and the best person I knew. She had so much to live for. I loved my sister, Karen. I miss her. I miss her in my bones. I was her big brother. I was supposed to protect her -- I could not. I have never gotten over it. I was supposed to save her. I could not. It very nearly destroyed me. I knew it destroyed my Grandmother, who spoke very little after Karen's death and died three years later. My Mother was broken by it. She continued to live her life with a grief that colored her remaining years...

"Forgiveness allows me to live my life. It allows me to love my children and my wife and the days I have left with them. But I can never escape the horror of what happened to my sister. I can never accept the notion that he can pay for that nightmare with anything less than his life. We all make choices. He made his. Surely a man who has killed so many must never take a single breath as a free man...

Siyani Funsani Masamba was denied parole and will not be eligible again until 2014.

Additional readings:
Hello Charlie: Letters from a Serial Killer
by Charlie Hess and Davin Seay
Simon & Schuster, 2008
Pages 29, 30

No Higher Calling, No Greater Responsibility
by John W. Suthers (Forward by Colorado Governor Bill Ritter)
Fulcrum Publishers, 2008
Pages 13, 14


Although he dedicated his autobiography So Far to Karen, Kelsey Grammar has only recently begun to speak openly of her tragic death and the devastating impact it had on his life. Here is one interview from 2001:

Larry King Live
The Unsinkable Kelsey Grammar
Aired March 16, 2001 - 9:00 p.m. ET

KING: So, when she, when this tragedy happened to her, you were where? Were you in Fort Lauderdale?

GRAMMER: I was in Fort Lauderdale, right.

KING: Back home.

GRAMMER: Yes, right, I was back home.

KING: How did you learn of this?

GRAMMER: Well, I had spoken to Karen.

KING: She was 18.

GRAMMER: She was 18 at the time, she was about to turn 19.

KING: Were you like a big brother to her?

GRAMMER: Yes, oh definitely.

KING: She was close to her grandfather too?

GRAMMER: Well, ever since -- yes, ever since Gordon died I kind of took over, so she was in Colorado Springs. And we spoke on the phone. Her birthday was coming up July 15, we spoke on July 1. She said she was going to be coming home probably around the 12th.

KING: Going to school there?

GRAMMER: Nope, she had actually taken a year off of school. She had gone to Barry College a year early, actually, because she graduated a year early, and she had done well, but then thought she wanted to take some time for herself, so she went up to Colorado Springs and was working, and holding down a job, and kind of had a boyfriend. But July 1 came around. Fourth of July, I tried to call her to say happy Fourth of July, it was always a big holiday in our family because we're kind of, you know, flag waving Americans. And I couldn't reach her. And around the 7th, after trying for the next several days to get in touch with her, I finally called the police department there, and about three or four hours later a couple detectives from the Pompano Beach [Added: Broward County, Florida] police department came and knocked on the door and asked if there was anybody sick in the house. I thought, "Well, that's kind of interesting." Because frankly, at first, I thought they were there to arrest me because I had been driving without a license for like, two years. But then they said, "Would you mind stepping outside." Because my grandmother was there, and she'd had some health trouble. And they took me to the car, opened up a book on the hood of the car, and I saw Karen Elisa Grammar written there, and they said, "We have a Jane Doe that we believe is your sister in Colorado Springs."

KING: You had to fly out there?

GRAMMER: Flew out, and identified her. It was a tough day, and -- it's funny...

KING: How do you get through that?

GRAMMER: It was hard. It was hard. You just do, you know, you put one foot in front of the other.

KING: Did they find that person?

GRAMMER: They found the three of them actually. There was three boys that, one was a little older, but they were, you know, teens, and they had killed seven [correction: four] people. Karen had been the sixth [correction: third] person. They got them and got the death penalty. I don't think they were ever executed. [correction: Larry Dunn was granted immunity for his testimony against Glenn, McLeod, and Michael Corbett. Corbett was not present the night of Karen's death, but was found guilty for his role in three other murders. Although convicted of lesser crimes, Dunn was never tried for Karen's rape and murder. Both Glenn and Corbett were handed death sentences, but in 1978 their sentences were commuted to life imprisonment after a series of US Supreme Court rulings questioned the application of capital punishment in some states. Court and trial records regarding McLeod are incomplete.].

KING: You would have any excuse, at this point, to go nuts.

GRAMMER: Yes, sure.

KING: What did you do?

GRAMMER: I went, well, I did go nuts in my own way. I got, I was, I guess probably clinically depressed the following year. I went back to New York, and started trying to get a job as an actor, and did do some waiting tables. And I spent a lot of time watching old movies, and on occasion, I would get up, because I was very poor at the time, I'd walk to the refrigerator door and open it up, and look inside. Of course there was nothing, but then I'd realize, when I closed the door, that I had been standing there for about an hour. I was not happy.

KING: What got you out of it?

GRAMMER: I just, well, like I said, I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, and...

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