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Suspect in 1982 cold case murder of Karen Stitt extradited from Hawaii to Bay Area

CBS SF Bay Area 8/22/2022 CBS San Francisco

SUNNYVALE – The man suspected in the 1982 cold case murder of Karen Stitt has been extradited back to the Bay Area after being arrested in Hawaii earlier this month, authorities said.

According to the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety, detectives transported 75-year-old Gary Gene Ramirez from Maui on Saturday without incident. Ramirez was booked into Santa Clara County Jail, where he is being held without bail as of Monday.

His court date has not yet been determined.

Gary Gene Ramirez August 2022 booking photo, how he appeared approximately 40 years ago. Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety © Provided by CBS SF Bay Area Gary Gene Ramirez August 2022 booking photo, how he appeared approximately 40 years ago. Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety

On August 2, cold case investigators arrested Ramirez in the murder of Stitt, a 15-year-old Palo Alto High School student.

"I believe we have a responsibility to these victims no matter how old the case is," Det. Matt Hutchison with the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety said at a news conference earlier this month announcing the arrest.

According to the district attorney's website, Stitt had recently moved to the South Bay from Pittsburgh who was easing into the social life of Palo Alto High in 1982.

She frequently road El Camino Real bus routes to and from her boyfriend's in Sunnyvale.

karen-stitt santa-clara-county-da © Provided by CBS SF Bay Area karen-stitt santa-clara-county-da

Sept. 4, 1982 was a Saturday, and Karen and her boyfriend were hanging out late, playing some video games at a 7-Eleven. Toward midnight they wandered over toward Golfland, a popular putt-putt course.

The teenager was wearing a leather jacket, a striped shirt, pants, and her boyfriend's baseball hat with a Rush rock band insignia.

A delivery man found her body the next day. Thrown over a four-foot wall near the now-gone Honey Bee Restaurant, Karen's naked body was bound with her own clothing. The hat lay nearby. She had been stabbed more than 60 times.

For nearly 40 years, Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety Detectives investigated all potential leads related to the case.

In 2000, a DNA profile was obtained from physical evidence at the crime scene and run through CODIS, the FBI's national database, by SDPS. But there were no matches. Utilizing a new investigative technique known as forensic genealogy, detectives eventually identified Ramirez as the primary suspect.

"Basically, what you do is build a family tree. You start with this DNA sample and the genealogist and the detective built out an entire family tree," said Rob Baker with the Cold Case Unit within the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.

The case is still an active investigation. Anyone with additional information about this case is asked to contact Hutchison at 408-730-7100.  

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