Vancouver police seek help solving 1997 murder of 17-year-old

The Vancouver Police Department is hoping the public can help them solve a nearly 26-year-old cold case.
Published: May. 30, 2023 at 10:12 AM PDT
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VANCOUVER, Wash. (KPTV) – The Vancouver Police Department is hoping the public can help them solve a nearly 26-year-old cold case.

In Aug. 1997, the body of 17-year-old Carle McConnell was found in the 1600 block of Devine Road. Police say McConnell’s death was ruled a homicide.

Police say the case has remained active for nearly 26 years and detectives have maintained contact with McConnell’s family.

“His mother Lani McConnell shares that Carle was in the gifted child program as a young child, mowed lawns in the neighborhood, delivered newspapers, and at one point, used the money he earned to go to Washington D.C. through his school. He was a big fan of the San Diego Padres and would surprise his mom by cooking dinner for her occasionally,” police said in a release.

Carle McConnell
Carle McConnell(Vancouver Police Department)

“He was a good kid,” said Lani McConnell, Carle’s mom. “He was really eager to learn. Caught on fast, so it was fun, you know, to teach him stuff and do stuff with him because he was just so eager it made it fun.”

“Yeah he was always really eager to help too,” said McConnell. “If you were doing something or working, he would be in there trying to watch what you were doing and wanted to help you do it. I didn’t really teach him to cook, he taught himself. He surprised me when he was in his teenage years. Every once in a while I would come home and he would have dinner ready. He was pretty awesome.”

“He was killed in the evening Memorial Day weekend,” said McConnell. “I believe it was a Friday night. He was taking the path, now I think it’s apart of Burnt Bridge Trail, but he was near Devine Road and there was a dirt road that cut through there. I don’t know if he was taking that path or someone took him there but that’s where he was.”

“I’ve already talked to some of Carle’s friends today that I haven’t talked to for years,” said McConnell. “So there are people who are talking again so that helps. You just never know. It may not take that much and there may be something there that someone knew all this time and they didn’t even realize it.”

“My whole life I looked up to him,” said Matthew McConnell, Carle’s brother. “I was the little brother. Every younger brother wants to be like their older brother, trying to copy everything he does. He was a really good older brother. He was a great athlete. Every sport. I wanted to be like him. I wanted to play baseball really good, I wanted to play soccer really good, I wanted to play basketball really good just like him.”

Matthew says he had just turned 14 when Carle was murdered.

“I was at a friend’s house that weekend,” said Matthew. “My mom had gone out of town camping so that’s why I went to stay with a friend. I came home that Sunday evening and I just remember something was up. My stepdad took me into the garage and told me what happened. I was in shock, disbelief, like anyone when something traumatic happens. You don’t believe it at first.”

Matthew says the last 26 years have felt unanswered as the investigation remained open.

“I’ve heard lots of things over the years, so many different stories and whatnot. I want the actual answers. Somebody did it, so someone has to pay the price for it. Somebody should be arrested and go to jail. Commit a crime, especially one of that magnitude, you got to pay the penalty for it.”

No details about the investigation were released by police.

Investigators are seeking tips and information that will lead to an arrest in the unsolved murder of McConnell. Crime Stoppers of Oregon is offering a cash reward in connection with this case.

Anyone with information about the unsolved 1997 murder can submit a secure and anonymous tip at