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Murderer Who Stuffed Victim In Freezer Paroled

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Sonora, CA – A Modesto man convicted of killing a woman at her Pine Mountain Lake home and stuffing her body in a freezer has been found suitable for parole.

The unanimous decision was the result of a seventh parole hearing held last week for convicted murderer, 61-year-old Steve Karpan. Tuolumne County District Attorney Cassandra Jenecke reports that she appeared on behalf of the People of Tuolumne County and the victim’s daughter, Kelly Molohan.

In 1994, Karpan pled guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to fifteen years to life for the slaying of Dorothy Ostrom, who resided in Modesto and had a vacation home in Pine Mountain Lake. Following up on a tip after a missing person report was filed on Ostrom, Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Deputies found her badly beaten body stuffed headfirst in a freezer with a toilet tank on top of the freezer lid in the home’s utility room.

D.A. Jenecke added, “Karpan was seen driving Ms. Ostrom’s car and attempted to use her credit cards after pawning her video camera. His fingerprints were found on the murder weapon, the toilet tank, and the utility room door.”

Initially, Karpan claimed he did not remember the killing. At his second parole hearing, he admitted to the murder and subsequently shared more details about the slaying. It was for that reason and “a lack of sufficient insight into why he murdered Ostrom,” along with “weak parole plans,” that D.A. Jenecke argued against Karpan’s parole. The panel disagreed based on the positive influence of Karpanself-help programming and sobriety work, the lack of recent violent rule violations while incarcerated,‘s  and a Comprehensive Risk Assessment that rated him at low risk of violent reoffending, according to D.A. Jenecke. Additionally, Karpan qualified for California’s Elderly Parole Hearing Law, whereby inmates who are 60 years of age or older and have served a minimum of twenty-five years of their sentence can be paroled by the panel.

“While I disagree with the Panel’s findings, I appreciate their time and careful attention to this hearing. I am also incredibly honored to have attended five of Karpan’s seven parole hearings with Dorothy’s daughter, Kelly. She attended and spoke or provided comment at all of his hearings, even when doing so was incredibly traumatic and forced her to relive her mother’s murder. At each hearing, she demonstrated the strength of her love for her mother and her determination that Karpan never again be allowed to hurt another person,” stated D.A. Jenecke. She added, “Our Office continues to attend parole hearings to support our victims and their survivors while working to ensure offender accountability that promotes public safety.”

There will be a 120-day review of the board’s decision unless Governor Gavin Newsom refers the decision for an en banc review (a special procedure where all judges of a particular court hear a case) by the Board of Parole Hearings.

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