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1 year since shocking murder of woman in Piedmont Park, police still 'actively' searching for a suspect

A press conference was scheduled for 3 p.m.

ATLANTA — Thursday marks one year since the murder of Katie Janness at Piedmont Park, a shockingly violent killing in the heart of Midtown that deeply rattled the city of Atlanta last summer.

On Thursday at 3 p.m., Atlanta Police held a press conference to provide an update on the case but said they are still actively looking for more information.

"We do not have a suspect identified," Deputy Chief Charles Hampton with APD said on Thursday. "We're looking at everyone." 

The brutality of the stabbing of 40-year-old Janness and her dog Bowie, whom she was walking, shook the community and sparked fears at the time of a serial killer. And the heartbreak of her partner Emma Clark - who found her in the park by tracking her phone after she didn't come back from the walk - became a painful symbol of the loss felt by friends and family.

"There is a monster on the loose in the city of Atlanta," Emma's father, Joe Clark, told 11Alive last year.

Police said Thursday that the case remains "very active," with no suspect ever named or caught.

RELATED: 'She was already gone' | Wife of Piedmont Park stabbing victim describes discovering murder scene

"Over the past year there hasn't been a waking moment that Katie hasn't been in our hearts or on our mind since she was taken from us," a statement from the Clark family said Thursday. "Her senseless death has affected our daily lives in a manner that is hard to describe. We are remembering Katie in private today and want to thank all of those who have honored and remembered her by keeping her story alive. We are vigilant in bringing her killer to justice and have remained in contact with Mayor Dickens who assures us that the City of Atlanta is doing everything they can to solve this case. Please continue to keep Emma and Katie's mother in your prayers."

A vigil will also be held at the park at 7 p.m. on Thursday for friends and members of the community to gather to honor the lives of Janness and Bowie. It is taking place at the entrance to the park on the corner of 10th Street and Charles Allen Drive. 

Here's a look back at the case:

The murder of Katie Janness | What we know

Janness left with her dog Bowie for a walk a bit after 10 p.m. on the night of July 28, 2021. 

Clark said Janness had come by some time after that to the restaurant Clark worked at, Henry’s Midtown Tavern on 10th Street, to say hi along the walk.

There remains few other details about what happened between the stop at Henry's and Clark later finding her in the park - only that APD has said a camera near 10th and Piedmont captured her and Bowie as they walked across the Rainbow Crosswalk a little after midnight. It was the opposite direction of her home.

When Janness didn’t come home, her partner got worried and found her through the find my iPhone app.

Police said they got the call that her body was found at the Charles Allen entrance around 1:00 a.m.

Bowie, too, was found by Clark stabbed to death "maybe 100 feet away," she said.

"I ran up to her, I tried to feel for a pulse but it was clear that she was gone. I turned around and I just ran out of the park," she described. "It was dark, and I didn't know what was going on. I was terrified and shocked. That's when I called the cops immediately."

An autopsy report later revealed she was stabbed more than 50 times, with "sharp force injuries" to her face, neck, and torso, causing "injuries of major blood vessels and internal organs." 

The autopsy report also noted letters spelling out a derogatory term had been carved into her chest. 

"I don't see how one person could have inflicted that much damage on someone," Emma's father Joe said after reading the report's details.

After the killing, APD stepped up patrols around the park, canvassed the neighborhoods and searched for anyone who might have seen something that night. The FBI also joined the case.

At one point police issued a photo of a jogger who they were hoping to speak with, and said that person had "come forward" and was speaking with detectives. They did not provide a further update after that.

In the weeks that followed, the city installed new cameras at Piedmont Park - after it came out that the camera network inside the park was significantly outdated - and worked to step up other security measures at the park. 

The most recent substantive update on the case came back in January, with police saying they felt they were "getting close" with the case and still actively investigating it.

"We continue to assess biological evidence, physical evidence as well as electronic evidence pertaining to this investigation," APD Homicide Commander Ralph Woolfolk said at that time. "We do believe this investigation is moving in the right direction."

Police continue to ask anyone who might have information to call 404-577-TIPS.


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