‘We got him’ daughter says of charges in 58-year-old stabbing death of her mother in Calumet City

‘We got him’ daughter says of charges in 58-year-old stabbing death of her mother in Calumet City

Paula Larson was a 2-year-old baby when her mother, Karen Snider, was found dead in a Calumet City home with more than 120 stab wounds.

The investigation into what happened at the 400 block of Wilson Avenue Nov. 12, 1966, led to a few arrests at the time but no charges. But April 29, the 58-year cold case saw a break when 79-year-old James Barbier was arrested in St. Louis and charged with first-degree murder.

“I said out loud, ‘Mom and Dad, we got him,'” Larson said.

She said her father always suspected Barbier.

“My father fought from the day he found her to the day he died trying to bring this to justice,” she said. “He 98% felt this was the killer.”

In December 2022, the Calumet City Police Department received a call asking about the case, leading detectives to re-examine evidence from the investigation that immediately followed the homicide in 1966, police Chief Kevin Kolosh explained.

“They went out and re-interviewed people that had knowledge of the case at the time,” Kolosh said, “which kind of confirmed the thoughts of investigators in 1966, that Barbier was a suspect.”

Barbier was arrested as part of the1966 investigation but was never charged, Kolosh said Monday at a news conference, surrounded by local politicians, detectives and members of Snider’s family.

Blood evidence and “multiple pieces of physical evidence” from the crime scene were still accessible to detectives decades later, Kolosh said. He would not say what change in the evidence prompted officers to seek charges this time around.

“They did a good job documenting the case back then, too,” said Kolosh, who also thanked advancements in technology. “It is amazing how detailed they were when they documented the case.”

After police homed in on Barbier again, they met him in April 2023 to interview him and collected more DNA from him, said police Sgt. Kevin Rapacz.

“We had a lengthy talk,” Rapacz said, without providing specifics.

Rapacz said Barbier seemed like he know this day was coming.

Detectives did not answer questions about the specific evidence that links Barbier to the case because of the impending trial.

But Larson did shed light on some connection between Barbier and her mother’s death. Larson said her family put an advertisement in the newspaper asking for tips which generated one particularly notable phone call.

“The person that wanted to talk to us said, ‘My husband doesn’t want me to talk,’” Larson said Monday. “It turned out that that was (Barbier’s) former sister-in-law.”

Cook County Judge Daniel Maloney ruled last week that Barbier can be released pending trial, but with conditions. He must report to the probation department, surrender his passport to Calumet City police and refrain from possessing a firearm or other dangerous weapons, court records show.

Barbier is scheduled to appear again May 21 at the Cook County Courthouse in Markham.