Police from Sunnyvale, California, arrested Gary Ramirez, suspected of the rape and murder of 15-year-old Karen Stitt in 1982. The relationship of the now 75-year-old man with the case was confirmed by examining a DNA sample taken from his child.
On the evening of September 2, 1982, 15-year-old Karen Stitt met her boyfriend. After the date, he escorted her to a bus stop near Sunnyvale, California. As he later testified, he was afraid that his parents would blame him for coming home too late, so he did not wait with the girl for the bus.
In the morning of the next day, a truck driver noticed the body of a teenager in bushes about 100 meters from the bus stop. Police identified her as Karen Stitt. It was established that the girl had been raped before her death. 59 stab wounds were found on her body. A semen and blood sample was secured near the crime scene.
Karen’s boyfriend was among the suspects for many years, but a DNA test carried out in 2000 finally proved him innocent. The results did not reveal any other leads.
The trail led to four brothers
For more than 20 years, the matter was at a standstill. In 2021, Detective Matt Hutchison from Sunnyvale received information – the policeman did not specify who or how it was passed on – indicating as a possible perpetrator one of the four Ramirez brothers who lived in Fresno, California in 1982.
During the following months an investigation was carried out, in which the participation of two brothers in the murder was excluded, the participation of the third was not “finally eliminated” by the investigators. The main suspect, however, was the fourth sibling – now 75-year-old Gary Ramirez, who served in the US Air Force in the 1970s.
Investigators managed to track down one of Ramirez’s children and take a DNA sample from him. The examination showed her “very high compliance” with the genetic material seized at the crime scene. The 75-year-old was arrested on August 2 at his home in Maui, Hawaii. The Santa Clara County Attorney’s Office said in a statement that the arrest was preceded by “months of planning” and that the action was a “joint effort” by law enforcement agencies in Sunnyvale and Maui.
Last Wednesday, Ramirez appeared in a Hawaii court and agreed to be extradited to California. There is no information yet that the man pleaded guilty. The 75-year-old has had no criminal record in the past. His older brother told The Mercury News that he found it hard to believe that Gary had committed the murder. “I have never seen him aggressive or angry. He would not hurt a fly” – described his relative of the newspaper.
Genetic research helps to solve puzzles from years ago
The murder of Karen Stitt is one of the oldest so-called cold cases reopened years later by American investigators. A few weeks ago, on tvn24.pl, we wrote about a breakthrough in the investigation of another crime that had been unsolved for many decades. In June, Lancaster County police arrested a man suspected of the 1975 murder of Linda Sue Biechler. The man’s relationship with the case has been confirmed thanks to a sample of genetic material secured on the coffee cup.
CNN, USA Today, The Mercury News, Santa Clara District Attorney