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Classmate who would later babysit at home where 1984 murder occurred has fond memories of Karen Slattery

Looking through high school yearbook brings back memories for Diane Brewer
Posted at 8:52 PM, Jun 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-14 20:52:24-04

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — A flood of memories come back to Diane Brewer as she looks at her high school yearbook.

"Going through the yearbook, you know, we've lost so many friends to tragedy, but this rocked us," she said. "This rocked us to our core."

Brewer was a sophomore at what was then Pope John Paul II High School in 1984 and just getting to know freshman Karen Slattery. Brewer described Slattery as "kind" and "vivacious."

"She hung out with some of my friends," Brewer said. "We weren't really just freshman-sophomore. We all hung out together."

Diane Brewer points to yearbook photo of Karen Slattery
Diane Brewer points to a yearbook photo of Karen Slattery.

Brewer recalled the moment at school when she was called to mass and told that Slattery had been murdered.

"We were just in shock," she said. "We were in shock. Crying and hugging. We were devastated."

Brewer also said it felt confusing when she learned of her friend's death.

"Especially since we were high school kids," she said. "We babysat. It could have happened to any of us."

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Slattery, 14 at the time, was murdered by Duane Owen while she was babysitting two sisters in an upscale Delray Beach neighborhood. The children were asleep in another room during the attack and were not hurt.

"Why?" Brewer said. "Why would he do this? Why did he choose her? Why did he choose that house? How could you, you know, have so much evil in your heart that you would do this to another human being, to a child?"

As Owen is scheduled to be executed, Brewer believes she will never get an answer to that question.

Several years after Slattery's death, Brewer babysat for the same children at the same home.

Delray Beach home where Karen Slattery killed
The Delray Beach home where Karen Slattery was murdered by Duane Owen looks much the same today as it did in 1984.

"It was hard going over there, but they're a very lovely family," Brewer said. "We just had a very happy, fun night. Of course, it was in the back of my mind, but, of course, I didn't, you know, put that on the children. They don't remember. They don't know."

Thumbing through the yearbook, Brewer pointed out how Slattery never got the chance to sign it.

"Now that I'm a mother and not a classmate, you know, in that frame of mind, it makes you sick to your stomach," Brewer said. "You know, I think about her family, her parents. That wound never heals when you lose a child."