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Retired Minneapolis homicide detective who specialized in cold cases dies at 54

14December 2021

Chris Karakostas, a decorated Minneapolis homicide detective who focused on cold case cases, died earlier this month at the age of 54.

Karakostas, who retired from the department last year, was found dead Dec. 2 in a local hotel room; friends say he was in town, preparing to testify in a murder case. The cause of his death has not been disclosed.

The Chicago native served with the MPD for 29 years — fulfilling a lifelong dream of working in law enforcement — before retiring last year from the Homicide unit, according to an online obituary. Upon leaving the department, he moved to Mt Airy, Maryland, where he owned a home.

“Chris was a devoted brother, a loving and attentive uncle and great-uncle, and a proud Godfather,” the obituary read. “He dedicated every free moment, vacation, and holiday to his family, easily bringing a laugh or a shoulder to anyone in need. May his memory be eternal.”

When the MPD revived its cold case team in 2015, Karakostas and another veteran homicide detective were chosen to run the unit. When the other detective retired, Karakostas partnered with FBI special agent Christopher Boeckers, who also specialized in investigating unsolved crimes.

In 2019, the pair was awarded for Excellence in Investigation for solving several decades-old unsolved rapes and murders, including the1983 killing of 17-year-old Lorri Mesedahl, who was found next to the Soo Line Railroad tracks in north Minneapolis. Karakostas also helped crack the unsolved slaying of of Jeanne Childs, using the increasingly popular, if controversial, method of entering an unidentified suspect’s DNA into a genealogy site used by millions of people to track their ancestry.

After Karakostas’ death, Boeckers wrote a remembrance saying that his former partner and friend had “reached the point where he could make accurate intuitive deductive associations, impressions, and investigative choices on a level few ever reach.”

“Chris could have walked out of the pages of a bestselling fictional homicide detective series or right off the screen of a major motion picture. He was intelligent, witty, engaging and charismatic,” wrote Boeckers, who left the Bureau in 2020 to join the U.S. Attorney’s Office as its Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP) coordinator. “He took tremendous pride and responsibility in representing the Minneapolis Police Department and its citizens and had incredible empathy and compassion for victims and families.”

While investigating cold cases “can be a quiet, undramatic, and solitary exercise,” Karakostas “always carried with him the spirit of his family, friends, mentors, colleagues, and all the victims and families he met along the way,” Boeckers wrote.

“Chris would tell humorous and warm stories about them in such detail and with such humor it often felt like they were in the office or the car with us and that I now knew each of them- even though I hadn’t actually met them,” he wrote. “It was clear he was able to tell the stories with such detail because he was always so engaged and attentive- as only people who love those people and moments can be.”

Karakostas is survived three siblings, and 23 nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews, according to his obituary.

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