Kathey Lynn Horn Murder: Where is David Paul Czinki Now?

Image Credit: Jack Franke/Find A Grave

Investigation Discovery’s ‘Nightmare Next Door: Bewitching Hour’ narrates how 16-year-old teen Kathey Lynn Horn disappeared under mysterious circumstances from Traverse City, Michigan, in September 1994. Her body was found almost two years later in May 1996, and the episode chronicles how her mother devotedly fought until the perpetrator was sentenced around 6 years later.

How Did Kathey Lynn Horn Die?

Kathey Lynn Horn was born to Janice Rott on April 30, 1978, in Mount Clemens in Macomb County, Michigan. According to news reports, Janice and her former husband had been separated within years of Kathey’s birth. A short, slender, beautiful girl, Kathey and her mother shifted to Traverse City, Grand Traverse County, in 1991, looking for a fresh start. The mother-daughter duo lived in a small apartment above a muffin shop, and the easy-going and friendly Kathey made many friends at school.

Kathey’s friend, Autumn Kelley, recounted, “She was always really happy, always shining. She would have had an awesome life. She wanted to be free. She wanted to be in the ocean, swimming with the dolphins. She wanted to save the dolphins and whales.” Janice added how her daughter shared the same empathy for people, bringing homeless individuals and destitute teens to their small home and demanding her mother needed to take them in.

She also gathered cans of food and milk to send to starving Ethiopians. With a playful grin and bubbly personality, she earned the moniker “Jibber” because she tended to talk non-stop. Hence it came as a shock when the 16-year-old teen disappeared after a night out with her friends in September 1994. Her decomposed remains were found two years later, on May 18, 1996, by a mushroom hunter in the woods along Pike School Road. The remains were covered in a blanket and too deteriorated for the police to determine the cause of death. However, the authorities ruled her death as a homicide.

Who Killed Kathey Lynn Horn?

According to Janice, Kathey had always yearned to be different, thus insisting on the extra “e” in her name to differentiate herself from others. However, she grew rebellious with adolescence, experimenting with drugs, getting tattoos, and living with her erstwhile boyfriend for a few months in early 1994. Even though she disapproved, Janice said she wanted her adamant and strong-willed daughter to learn from her own mistakes and experience.

Janice stated she dropped Kathey at school on the morning of September 23, 1994, and the latter was permitted to spend the weekend with a friend. After going to dance, the teens, including Kathey, went to the Gaylord coffee shop, where they met other people, including David Paul Czinki, then 30. According to court documents, Kathey wanted to return home around midnight and was looking for a ride with three other young individuals. The latter group wanted to go to Mancelona, about halfway between Gaylord and Traverse City.

David offered to drive them home and even presented them with weed that they shared while driving to the wee hours of September 24. The three youths later told the police they were dropped off at a party store in Mancelona while Kathey remained in the van. When detectives interviewed David, he claimed Kathey drove with him for another 100 yards before expressing a desire to join the party and descending from his vehicle. That was the last time the 16-year-old was seen alive.

When one of her friends called Janice the next morning and inquired about Kathey’s whereabouts, she was concerned. She reported her missing immediately, but the police proclaimed she was a “runaway.” However, Janice refused to believe this explanation and claimed her daughter was not the “type to run off without a word.” She added, “Even if she was mad at me, she’d have at least called and said, ‘Hey, I’m outta here!'” She also stated her daughter had not taken any extra clothes, money, or personal belongings.

Frustrated with the police refusing to take any action, Janice resigned from her job as a waitress and employed all her money and efforts to look for her missing daughter. After the police refused to do so, she used the local media to appeal for volunteers to help her search the countryside around Mancelona and Gaylord. She conducted candlelight vigils and plastered trees and telephone poles with missing posters. According to reports, Janice also hired a professional searcher from Texas with $580 in donated funds.

Over time, the search became slow, and Janice installed a toll-free phone line for people to call with information. She founded the Missing Children’s Network of Michigan, a nonprofit organization, and operated out of her apartment. Court documents state the police interviewed David in March 1995 about an unrelated drunk driving incident, and he told them he was going to prison for Kathey’s disappearance. When two mushroom hunters discovered a set of Kathey’s clothing in the woods on May 8, 1996, the police took David to the spot.

The detectives asked David if he knew why her clothes were there, and he reportedly told them they had all the required evidence before asking for an attorney. After Kathey’s remains were found, Janice hired David Ufer, a private investigator and her foundation’s president, to help her gather evidence against David. They interviewed many witnesses, helping collect critical clues for the police to act upon. However, the police had their breakthrough when a witness came forward, alleging they saw David with the body.

David Paul Czinki is Serving His Sentence

The witness, David Lowshaw, claimed he was driving near Berrywine and Pike School roads when he and his wife saw someone digging with a shovel. He also alleged he saw Kathey’s body propped up by the van’s side and had attempted to report it to the police. However, he could not contact the authorities due to a lack of a phone signal in the woods. Other witnesses also claimed David had laceration marks on his hand, looked quiet and tensed, and washed his van and clothes the day after the murder occurred.

The officers also found an unclaimed notebook containing several incriminating words in his vehicle. Based on all the testimonies and circumstantial evidence, he went on trial and was convicted of second-degree murder in 2002. Being a fourth-offense habitual offender, he was sentenced to 35 to 52½ years imprisonment. According to official court records, the 58-year-old is serving his sentence at the Lakeland Correctional Facility. His inmate records state his earliest release date as February 2036, while his maximum discharge date is November 2043.

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