SUNNYVALE, Calif. — A Hawaiian man has been arrested after DNA technology helped investigators identify him as a suspect in the 1992 murder of a 15-year-old girl who was abducted in Northern California at a bus stop, raped and killed, authorities said. .
Karen Stitt was waiting for a bus in Sunnyvale when she disappeared in the early morning hours of September 3, 1982. A delivery truck driver discovered her naked body among bushes 100 yards (91 yards) from the bus stop, the Mercury News reported on Tuesday.
Sunnyvale police arrested 75-year-old Gary Ramirez in Maui last week after they said his DNA matched blood from Karen’s leather jacket and the 4-foot (1.2-meter) cinder block wall where the killer left her after stabbing her 59 times, the newspaper reports.
Ramirez remains incarcerated in a Maui jail pending an extradition hearing on Wednesday to bring him to California. It was not immediately clear whether he had retained the services of a lawyer who could speak on his behalf.
Santa Clara County cold case investigators say they used DNA technology tied to family tree genealogy, the same investigative process that led to the Golden State Killer’s 2018 arrest and guilty plea.
Sunnyvale Police Detective Matt Hutchison said he arrested Ramirez, a man with a bad hip who looked so shocked he could say little more than “Oh my God”.
Ramirez, a retired insect exterminator, had no criminal record, according to police. His older brother, Rudy Ramirez, who also lives on Maui, said he couldn’t imagine his younger brother would be capable of such a horrific crime.
“I never saw him violent or angry,” Ramirez’s brother told the newspaper. “He wouldn’t hurt a fly.”
Three years ago, Hutchison teamed up with a genealogist who narrowed down the DNA to four brothers. Hutchison then tracked down one of Gary Ramirez’s children and collected a DNA sample, which showed a high likelihood the suspect was their father, he said. After that, authorities used a search warrant to remove Gary Ramirez’s mouth for a DNA sample, which a crime lab said matched DNA found at the crime scene.
When he opened the email with the DNA match, “I wanted to scream, but I can’t because I didn’t want to wake up the hotel,” Hutchinson said. “So I just took a moment to think.”
He opened his laptop and clicked on Karen’s photo.
“I took a quick look at his picture,” he said, “and I just said, ‘We did it.'”