A Hawaii man has been arrested for a 1982 slaying of a teenager abducted from a bus stop in California, authorities announced Tuesday.
Police in Sunnyvale nabbed 75-year-old Gary Ramirez in Maui after they concluded his DNA matched the blood from the scene of 15-year-old Karen Stitt’s murder, according to Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office.
Stitt was waiting for a bus in Sunnyvale when she disappeared in the early morning hours of Sept. 3, 1982. A delivery truck driver found her unclothed dead body in bushes a football field away from the station, according to a Mercury News story published Tuesday.
Police said DNA technology was used to link Ramirez to the blood from Karen’s leather jacket and the 4-foot cinder block wall where the killer left her after stabbing her 59 times.
Sunnyvale police Detective Matt Hutchison revealed that while he arrested Ramirez — a retired bug exterminator and Air Force veteran with an injured hip — appeared so shocked he could only utter, “Oh my gosh.”
Ramirez, a Fresno native, had no criminal record, police said. His older brother, Rudy Ramirez, who also lives in Maui, said it was hard to conceive that his younger brother would carry out a grisly murder.
“I’ve never seen him violent or get angry ever,” Rudy Ramirez told the newspaper. “He wouldn’t hurt a fly.”
In 2019, Hutchison partnered with a genealogist, who narrowed the DNA down to four brothers.
Hutchison then searched for one of Gary Ramirez’s children, and collected a DNA sample, which revealed there was a high likelihood that the suspect was their father, he said. Authorities then employed a search warrant to swab Gary Ramirez’s mouth for a DNA sample, which a crime lab confirmed matched the DNA found at the decades-old 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,” Hutchison said. “So I just 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,” he said, “and I just told her, ‘We did it.’”
Ramirez is locked up in a Maui jail while waiting for a Wednesday extradition hearing in order to transport him to California.
With Post wires