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Discovery Channel show highlights role of UIS Downstate Illinois Innocence Project in Decatur murder case

January 26, 2005

SPRINGFIELD - On Saturday, January 29, at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. the Discovery Channel will air “Reasonable Doubt:  Guilty or Innocent” on the murder case of Karyn Slover of Decatur.  Slover’s ex-husband and his parents were convicted in May 2002 of the murder and are serving long terms in Illinois prisons.

The Downstate Illinois Innocence Project, affiliated with the Institute for Legal and Policy Studies at the University of Illinois at Springfield, working through Director of Investigations Bill Clutter, is assisting the Illinois Office of the State Applellate Defender in investigating the Slovers’ claims of innocence. 

According to Clutter, the Slovers were convicted with no direct evidence that they committed the crime.  The ex-husband, Michael Slover, had a clear alibi at the time of Karyn Slover’s disappearance and murder. 

Related Links

Downstate Innocence Project Website

On September 27, 1996, Karyn Slover disappeared after leaving the Decatur Herald and Review, where she worked as an advertising salesperson, at 5 p.m.  Witnesses reported seeing her car traveling toward Champaign at 5:20 p.m.  Later that night the car she was driving was found abandoned 10 miles west of Champaign on I-72, parked on the westbound shoulder with the engine running and the driver’s door open.  Witnesses reported seeing the car followed by another vehicle traveling northbound on I-57 coming from the direction of Mattoon, Illinois, minutes before the car was found abandoned.

Two days later her body parts were found floating in gray garbage bags in Lake Shelbyville. After the case had gone unsolved for almost four years, Macon County prosecutors charged the Slover family with conspiracy to commit murder.

It was the State’s theory that the Michael Slover’s mother killed Karyn when Karyn came to pick up her three-year-old son, Kolten, at the Slovers’ home in Mt. Zion.  But there was no evidence of murder, no blood, no murder weapon found; and there were no confessions.

Clutter stated, “There is evidence to indicate that Karyn may have been abducted in Champaign, where she may have gone to shop for a dress for a wedding she planned to attend that weekend.”  Clutter had been pursuing leads pointing to alternative suspects from the Mattoon area when he was assigned to investigate the defense four years ago.  However, when prosecutors dropped the death penalty, the Slovers were left without resources to fund the defense investigators who had been hired by the Macon County Public Defender.

The Downstate Illinois Innocence Project was established at the University of Illinois at Springfield in 2001 to assist people like the Slovers who may be innocent.  Two years ago, the Project won exoneration for Keith Harris, from Belleville, who spent 22 years in prison for an attempted murder he did not commit. 

Clutter stated, “We hope the airing of this case by the Discovery program gives us the opportunity to generate new information on who ever committed this crime.”  Anyone who has information is encouraged to contact the UIS Innocence Project.

More information about the Downstate Innocence Project is located on the UIS website at http://www.uis.edu/legalstudies/innocence_project.htm, or contact Clutter at (217) 528-5997.


    The University of Illinois at Springfield, one of three U of I campuses, is a small, public liberal arts university that offers 42 degree programs – 21 bachelor’s, 20 master’s, and the Doctorate of Public Administration. UIS has a special mission in public affairs and service and is known for extraordinary internships, a wireless campus, extensive online offerings, and a commitment to teaching.