The Unsolved Murder of Diana Kay Karnes | North Omaha, NE | 1969

The Crime Scene

On July 23, 1969 two teenagers stumbled upon the body of a white, 35-year-old woman, in the middle of the intersection of 50th St and McKinley Road in North Omaha, Florence area. The woman's throat was slashed and was nude from the waist down, wearing a blouse and waist-length nylon jacket. 6 beer bottles were near the body along with a pack of cigarettes under a nearby tree with trampled down grass. A pair of burmuda shorts, sunglasses, and a pair of bloody underwear were found 150 feet further down the road from the body.

The woman was identified as Diana Kay Karnes, 35, who was last seen by her husband at 12:30AM on Wednesday July 23rd. She was discovered dead at 10pm Wednesday evening with a 6 inch slash across her throat. The crime scene was in a secluded area with woods and heavy underbrush. There was a trampled down and bloody area of grass nearby. The street was deemed a 'lovers' lane' by newspapers at the time and was an access road to a power line. Tests were conducted for sexual assault but the results were not released. The autopsy was never released to the public. Police estimated she was killed between midnight and 3AM Wednesday morning.

(Omaha World Herald Photographs. "Sheriff Searches for Clues in Slaying of Dancer." July 24, 1969)
(50th and McKinley St. North Omaha, Google Maps. Accessed on 4/1/24)

About Diana K. Karnes

Diana Karnes was born Diana Arneson in Sioux City, IA. She was a mother of 7 (4 biological children and 3 foster children) who worked as a waitress and dancer with a booking agency called CBC Enterprises, Inc. A week before her death she was working as a go-go dancer in the Cobra Lounge in Marshalltown, IA.

She lived with her children and husband, Fred P. Karnes, who called the Omaha police at noon on Thursday to ask about the body found, which had not been positively identified yet. Her and her family were living in a camper trailer in De Soto Bend, IA. Some newspapers early on mention Diana and Fred as separated. However, the night she was murdered Fred drove her to a tavern on North Saddle Creek Rd. He said he last saw Diana when she refused a ride home at 12:30AM from the same tavern. He left and never saw her again.

On July 29th, the police cut the long grass along the road near where the body was found in order to locate the murder weapon, a knife. The murder weapon was not found. I find it odd the police decided to cut the grass, as it would destroy potential key evidence at the crime scene. I'm assuming it was processed thoroughly before this.

What's Happened Since?

Unfortunately, the case went cold after police conducted lie detector tests on 4 suspects in August and September 1969.

Most newspapers covered Diana's death for the first week or so with respect and straight forward facts. However, the Lincoln Star Newspaper published a cropped photo from her autopsy photo with the text "Throat Slashed" to the right of it. This article was quite sensationalized with the title "Former Go-Go Dancer in Omaha Found Slain."

Ten years later, in 1979, the Omaha World Herald published an article speaking about several unsolved homicide cases, Diana Karnes' being one of them. It's sad to know that Diana's killer was not caught. I hope this cold case is reopened and examined under the technological advances we now have. I hope evidence was preserved enough for DNA testing where new suspects could be discovered.


  • Omaha World Herald. "Dancer Killed." July 27, 1969
  • Omaha World Herald. "Beer Bottles Found Near Slain Woman" James Ivey. Page 1, 8, 16. July 24, 1969
  • Omaha World Herald. "Dead Woman 'Last Seen' By Husband." July 25, 1969
  • Lincoln Star. "Former Go-Go Dancer In Omaha Found Slain." July 25, 1969
  • Grand Island Daily Independent. "Find Body of Woman." July 25, 1969
  • Scottsbluff Daily Star Herald. "Omaha Police Search for Killer of 34-Year-Old Former Dancer." July 25, 1969
  • Omaha World Herald. "New Suspect is Set Free." September 22, 1969
  • Fremont Tribune. "Murder Victim Walked Away from Husband." July 25, 1969
  • Omaha World Herald. "Grass is Cut at Death Site." July 29, 1969
  • Omaha World Herald. "7 Deaths Still Stymie Sheriff." David Thompson. June 17, 1979
  • Sioux City Journal. "Find Woman Murdered in Omaha." July 24, 1969
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