Karen Denise Wells

Wells, circa 1994

  • Missing Since 04/12/1994
  • Missing From Carlisle, Pennsylvania
  • Classification Endangered Missing
  • Date of Birth 09/22/1970 (48)
  • Age 23 years old
  • Height and Weight 5'6, 115 - 120 pounds
  • Distinguishing Characteristics Caucasian female. Blonde hair, blue/green eyes. Wells goes by her middle name, Denise. She has a quarter-inch scar on her forearm and she wears eyeglasses.

Details of Disappearance

Wells was on a trip from Haskell, Oklahoma to visit a friend in Bergen, New Jersey when she disappeared in April 1994. She stopped at the Pike Motel in the 1100 block of Harrisburg Pike in Carlisle, Pennsylvania on April 12 and called her friend from there at 7:00 p.m. She said she was going to eat at a McDonald's restaurant, then would go to bed.

This is the last time anyone heard from Wells. Shortly after midnight on April 13, her friend went to the motel to meet her as planned and there was no answer when she knocked on the door of her room.

The friend summoned a clerk and they went into the room. Wells's room key, clothing and other belongings were inside. The bed didn't appear to have been slept in. There was no sign of Wells.

That same morning, Wells's rented 1993 Plymouth Acclaim with Oklahoma license plates was found abandoned in a rural area on Route 274, 35 miles from the motel. It appeared to have stopped in its tracks in the westbound lane.

The driver's and passenger's side doors were wide open, the vehicle was scratched and mud-splattered, it was out of gas and the battery was dead. Some empty soda bottles, a pair of shoes, maps and some french fries were inside the car.

There were indications of criminal activity, including a small quantity of marijuana. Wells's change purse, containing a small amount of cash, was in a nearby ditch. Authorities checked the odometer on the car and discovered it had been driven 600 to 700 miles that couldn't be accounted for.

Around Thanksgiving in 1994, the wife of Wells's married boyfriend claimed she had heard from her. Wells allegedly called the woman and said she had gotten married and wouldn't be coming home. This story hasn't been confirmed, and police don't believe Wells actually made the telephone call.

Wells has a prior criminal conviction for forgery in South Dakota. She was unemployed and the single parent of a baby son in 1994. Her mother stated she was handling her life well and loved her child.

It's uncharacteristic of Wells to leave without warning. Her family has had her declared legally dead. Foul play is suspected in her disappearance, which remains unsolved.

Investigating Agency

  • Pennsylvania State Police 717-249-2121

Updated 3 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated May 1, 2009; two pictures and date of birth added, distinguishing characteristics, and details of disappearance updated.