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Thursday, 11 August 2022 – Police have announced the arrest of a man living in Hawaii for abducting, sexually assaulting and repeatedly stabbing a 15-year-old girl as she was on her way to a bus stop in California nearly 40 years ago.
Gary Ramirez, 75, was arrested at his Makawao home on the Hawaiian island of Maui on August 2 for the gruesome Sept. 2, 1982, killing of 15-year-old Karen Stitt, officials have announced. He appeared in a Hawaii court for an extradition hearing on Wednesday, August 10.
Stitt, had taken a bus to Sunnyvale earlier in the evening on Sept. 2, 1982, to see her boyfriend. Hours later, around midnight, the boyfriend walked Stitt part of the route back to the bus stop but did not go the full way out of fear that his parents would punish him for being out past curfew, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office said.
The boyfriend last saw Stitt alive in the area of El Camino Read and Wolfe Road, walking toward the bus stop for her ride back to Palo Alto.
A truck driver discovered Stitt’s naked body the next morning brutally injured and hidden “in the bushes” behind a blood-riddled “cinderblock wall” about 100 yards from the bus stop, officials and court records state.
“Behind every old murder file in every major police department, there is a person, heartbreak, and a mystery,” District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a statement.
“The mystery of Karen Stitt’s death has been solved thanks to advances in forensic science and a detective that would never, ever give up.”
Police say Stitt was sexually assaulted and stabbed 59 times. An autopsy found she died from “stab wounds to the chest and neck.” But the killer was allegedly sloppy, and left his own bodily fluid and blood at the scene.
However, the case went unsolved and most had forgotten about it as they could not find the perpetrator.
“A review of the crime scene photos and videos showed that leaves and dirt around her feet had been disturbed and kicked, suggesting that she was still alive when her body was left there,” court records state.
“It appears her murder was committed while the perpetrator was engaged in the commission of a kidnapping.”
Police had initially suspected her boyfriend to be responsible for the crime, but he was ultimately cleared using DNA evidence.
In 2019, Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety Det. Matt Hutchinson received a tip that pointed to one of four brothers from Fresno, California, as being the killer.
Detective Hutchinson closed in on Gary Ramirez by April 2022, identifying him “as the likely source of blood and bodily fluid” discovered at the scene, officials said.
The district attorney’s office confirmed his suspicions last week.
Ramirez was raised in Fresno and served in the U.S. Air Force before moving to several places throughout the country, and landing on Hawaii.
He faces charges of murder, kidnapping and rape.