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40-year-old cold case solved: Hawaii man charged for 1982 murder of 15-year-old in California

karen stitt.jpg
Posted at 3:53 PM, Aug 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-10 17:06:08-04

A 40-year-old cold case in California was finally solved after law enforcement authorities arrested a 75-year-old Hawaii man for the murder of a 15-year-old girl in 1982.

The Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office announced on Tuesday they charged Gary Ramirez for fatally stabbing 15-year-old Karen Stitt in 1982.

"Behind every old murder file in every major police department, there is a person, heartbreak, and a mystery,” District Attorney Jeff Rosen said. “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.”

Prosecutors said Stitt was last seen by her then-boyfriend, who walked with her at night toward a bus stop in Sunnyvale.

According to the press release, Stitt's naked body was found concealed behind a blood-stained cinderblock wall the following day.

Prosecutors said the Palo Alto native had been sexually assaulted and stabbed 59 times.

ABC News reported that her then-boyfriend, long considered a suspect, was cleared in 2000 after his DNA did not match the DNA left at the crime scene.

ABC News reported that years went by without a significant lead until investigators turned to genetic genealogy.

In 2019, a tip led Sunnyvale Police Detective Matt Hutchison to determine that Stitt’s killer was possibly one of four brothers from Fresno, prosecutors said.

According to the press release, Ramirez was identified as the possible suspect in late April.

Last week, the district attorney's crime lab confirmed Ramirez's DNA matched the DNA found at the murder scene, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said once Ramirez is extradited, he will be arraigned on murder, kidnapping, and rape charges.