Hawaii man arrested in 1982 murder of teen in California using DNA technology

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Hawaii man arrested in 1982 murder of teen in California using DNA technology

SUNNYVALE, Calif. - A Hawaii man has been arrested after DNA technology helped investigators identify him as a suspect in the murder of a 15-year-old girl who was abducted in Northern California from a bus stop in 1982, raped and killed, authorities said.

Karen Stitt was in Sunnyvale waiting for a bus when she disappeared in the early morning hours of Sept. 3, 1982. A delivery truck driver found her naked body among some bushes 100 yards 91 meters away from the bus stop, the Mercury News reported Tuesday.

The newspaper reported last week that Sunnyvale police arrested Gary Ramirez, 75, in Maui after they said his DNA matches the 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.

Ramirez is incarcerated in a Maui jail awaiting an extradition hearing Wednesday to bring him to California. It was not immediately clear if he had retained an attorney who can speak on his behalf.

Santa Clara County cold case investigators say they used DNA technology linked to family tree genealogy, the same investigative process that led to the arrest and guilty plea of the Golden State Killer in 2018.

Sunnyvale police detective Matt Hutchison said he arrested Ramirez, a man with a bad hip who appeared so shocked he could say little more than, Oh my gosh. Ramirez, a retired bug exterminator, had no criminal record, police say. His elder brother, Rudy Ramirez, who also lives in Maui, said he can't imagine that his younger brother would be capable of such a horrific crime.

Ramirez's brother told the newspaper, "I have never seen him angry or violent." He wouldn't hurt a fly. Three years ago, Hutchison teamed up with a genealogist who narrowed the DNA down to four brothers. Hutchison then sought out one of Gary Ramirez's children and collected a DNA sample, which showed a high probability that the suspect was their father, he said. After that, authorities used a search warrant to swab Gary Ramirez's mouth for a DNA sample, which a crime lab confirmed matches the 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. I took a moment to reflect. He opened up his laptop and clicked on the photo of Karen.

I took a quick glance at her photo, and I just told her, We did it.