To parents, the list of things that could happen to your child is never-ending, all tr*agic, whether they be accidental or not.
What if you lost your child and never knew the cause? For the family of Katherine Korzilius, 6, that horror became their reality on August 7, 1996.
Katherine was discovered unconscious with a skull fracture that led to her death only six houses away from her own. What happened remains a mystery.
The beginning of a mystery
At 4 p.m., Katherine’s mother, Nancy, pulled up to their shared mailboxes with Katherine and her 9-year-old brother Chris. She had been running errands all day, including buying her husband Paul a birthday present.
She asked to be able to walk home. That was the last thing Nancy told her daughter. She knew the way back home, which was only four houses away. Kathy was going to drive the short way home, but Nancy and Chris took the long way.
Chris went to find her when she didn’t come home. When he got home, he told his mom that he couldn’t find Katherine. At 4:15, it had only been fifteen minutes since they left Katherine alive. They found her on the other side of the cul-de-sac, lying face-down in the fetal position and not awake but breathing. Nancy grabbed Katherine out of the blue and drove the 25 minutes to Seton Medical Center, where Katherine died that night.
The Crime Scene
There were no tracks or other things close to her body. Katherine’s house was also in a quiet area with not many cars. In spite of this, a hit-and-run was the first idea. No one who was interviewed by the press said they heard or saw anything. After the initial buzz, Chris said one of his friends said his mom called 911, but there was no record of it. Chris and Nancy are the only ones who have talked about what happened that afternoon.
A car should have been able to see Katherine and have had plenty of time to stop because of the angle of the crash. So, the hit-and-run theory didn’t make as much sense, especially after the autopsy was made public.
Katherine had broken bones in her head. But there were no other broken bones or injuries inside the body that would have been expected from an impact. Her shoulder, back, hip, elbows, knees, and hands all had small cuts and bruises. The coroner thought she either jumped, fell, or was thrown from a moving car.
The autopsy brought up more questions than it answered. People in the neighborhood got together to put up flyers offering a reward for information. The fact that Katherine’s dad, Paul, is the business manager for Jon Bon Jovi made things even more interesting. But even with all the attention, there wasn’t enough proof to narrow the investigation.
There were two theories.
Theory One𑁋Katherine fell trying to car surf
Katherine tried to ride home in the family car by holding on to the bumper. The only places to hold on to the Chevrolet Suburban were the metal bar on top or the handle on the back door, which would have opened if she held it. In Austin’s summer heat, the metal would have burned her hands, as everyone in Texas knows. She also had a cast on her finger because her left thumb was broken . It would not have been easy to hold on to anything. Also, fingerprints that could be useful have never been found on the mother’s car.
This theory says that Nancy and Chris are partly to blame. Natalie should have been able to see her in the rearview mirror. She either didn’t notice that Katherine was riding on the back of the car or let her do it. Chris, who was in the car, would have helped hide what happened when he was only nine years old.
Investigators, including a private investigator hired by the Korzilius family, didn’t believe this theory because of these reasons. Crime fans have said that the heat and splint might have caused her to fall off, not the fact that she didn’t try. The dead-end street in her neighborhood had a curve, and her injuries were more like those from a fall than an impact. She was also found facing the direction her mother drove, not the way she would have walked.
Theory Two𑁋Katherine was ab*ducted
Katherine was grabbed and thrown out of a moving car, where she either fell out or jumped out. A K-9 unit found her scent in an empty lot 30 yards from the mailboxes, which made this option stronger.
She told the police that Katherine posed for her in her statement. She wore sandals, her hair was smooth, her shirt and shorts were straight, and her toes were pointed straight forward.
Some people didn’t believe this theory because they thought the kidnapping would have happened quickly in a safe neighborhood where thieves could find someone to do it. But it’s possible that safe is just an illusion.
The Lingering Questions
It could have been one of those theories, or a hit-and-run, or is it possible Katherine just fell? The coroner’s report listed scrapes on her hands, knees, elbows consistent with a fall. Head trauma is complicated. Could she have fallen and tried to follow the path her mom drove off in?
All anyone knows is that it seems wrong, unfair, and upsetting that a little girl could die walking one block.