No murder charges against woman with remains in freezer

The Associated Press
Wednesday November 15, 2000

LOS ANGELES — Prosecutors on Tuesday declined to file murder charges against a woman whose freezer contained human remains and whose elderly roommate is missing, since a preliminary autopsy proved inconclusive. 

Deputy District Attorney Philip Halpin said more investigation was needed. He added that Oregon officials plan to return Karen Huster to that state on a murder warrant and that there will be “ample time to complete the investigation here.” 

Halpin, with the county district attorney’s office, also said Huster claims she dissected her 73-year-old roommate after he died of a heart attack. 

Preliminary autopsy results on body parts found in Huster’s San Fernando Valley apartment failed to determine a cause of death or the identity of the victim. 

County coroner’s investigators are set to conduct further tissue analysis and examine toxicology results on the frozen remains. 

Huster, 41, was arrested Friday after the niece of her roommate found body parts in Huster’s freezer. 

Huster was booked and held without bail on a murder warrant out of Washington County, Ore., where a grand jury indicted her for allegedly murdering her 10-year-old daughter, Elisabeth. 

A Washington County detective believes Huster panicked after her roommate died of natural causes then cut up the body so the death would go undiscovered and Huster’s whereabouts would remain unknown to Oregon authorities. 

Washington County Detective John Stratford attended the Monday autopsy. 

“She was afraid of getting arrested on our outstanding warrant,” he said. 

Huster fled her Tigard, Ore., apartment in April, a few days before a grand jury handed down a murder indictment. Elisabeth’s body has never been found. 

Stratford said there was nothing in Huster’s apartment to indicate her daughter had been there. He also found no evidence of where the girl might be. 

Michael Huster reported his daughter, Elisabeth, missing in December 1996.  

Karen Huster was arrested in February 1997 and spent two years in prison for refusing to divulge Elisabeth’s whereabouts.  

She claims her daughter is with friends and family in California.