CA CA - Santa Rosa Hitchhiker Murders, 7 girls/young women, 1972-1973

Discussion in 'Serial Killers' started by kemo, Mar 12, 2016.

  1. kemo

    kemo Well-Known Member

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    In 1972-73 there were eight young women murdered in or around Santa Rosa Ca. While the circumstances of all of their deaths are not know some were probably hitchhiking when they were abducted and later murdered and others were known to hitchhike. On was never identified. Seven were later found dumped in wooded areas outside of Santa Rosa. One has not been found.

    While it is possible that all were victims of the same serial killer, it is very possible that two or more different murderers were operating. Two of the bodies were found very close to other dump sites but the locations where bodies were found was publicized in the local paper so it is possible that one killer placed a body where it would be linked to a murder he did not commit.

    There is apparently a belief, held by some Santa Rosa area Lawmen that at least one of the murders was committed by a local Jr College teacher who died in an auto accident in 1976. None of the cases are officially cleared.

    The best overview of the case is http://www.santarosahitchhikermurders.com/. There is lots of other cites with information. There has been suggestion that the Zodiac Killer was involved. It find this unlikely but there is a lot of info on some Zodiac sites.
     
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  2. OkieGranny

    OkieGranny New Member Forum Coordinators

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    http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/2288099-181/unsolved-but-not-forgotten?ref=related

    http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Ted-Bundy-a-suspect-in-Sonoma-County-cold-cases-2355670.php

    http://archives.sfweekly.com/thesni...days-crimes-the-santa-rosa-hitchhiker-murders

     
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  3. theshadow45

    theshadow45 Well-Known Member

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    Possible candidate for the Jane Doe's identity? http://www.charleyproject.org/cases/p/pope_paula.html Timeline works; Paula vanished shortly before her 19th birthday in September 1972 about two-and-a-half hours from Santa Rosa and was last known to be hitchhiking towards Sacramento, which she would have had to pass through to get there. She wore hard contact lenses and had red/brown hair. No mention of a previously broken rib and height is a little below the estimate but not enough for me to discount her.
     
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  4. theshadow45

    theshadow45 Well-Known Member

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  5. Mountain Mama

    Mountain Mama Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for sharing this. "First Annual Carson City Labor Day Music & Art Festival" at T-Car Speedway has been mentioned on Paula Ann Pope's websleuths page as possibly the concert that she went to, but I'm not sure if it was confirmed. Could be interesting to see if there were any big name acts on the bill. Wouldn't the bands have been big names for Paula to be so upset that her husband couldn't attend. What kind of crowd would attend this event?
     
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  6. burblestein

    burblestein Well-Known Member

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    The Zodiac Killer preyed upon both genders. He shot his victims and left them in place without touching them. He didn't manage to kill all his victims.

    The Hitchhiker Killer preyed upon young women. He abducted them, strangled them, stripped them nude, and discarded them in obscure localities.

    Given the complete lack of similarities in modus operandi, it would be foolish to consider the Zodiac as the Hitchhiker Killer.
     
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  7. Pettibon Junction

    Pettibon Junction Active Member

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    Have to agree. Robert Graysmith's desperate linkage of his Zodiac suspect to the Sonoma murders, is the biggest smoke bomb in this case.

    Local LE at the time seemed to have a pretty good idea who was behind these crimes. They even had two good suspects: a local sex offender and ex-con who committed suicide after being interviewed, and the aforementioned junior college writing professor with links to at least one of the victims who died in a car accident. The murders stopped with the deaths of these two individuals.

    I think these murders are one of those cases that's only technically unsolved.
     
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  8. kemo

    kemo Well-Known Member

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    In the 1970's, the greater SF Bay Area was a hotbed of murdered or missing young women. Many of these women were believed to have been hitchhiking when they met their fate. I have compiled a list of about 50 women who appeared to have been victims of sexual predators who cruised the streets and hi-ways seeking random targets.

    At the time, hitchhiking was very common in the region and it was a reliable means of transportation. It was believed that it was easier for women and I knew a number of women who never owned a car during that period because they could hitch wherever they wanted to go and never had a problem. The sheer availability of young women out hitchhiking was a tempting target for sexual predators and had a lot to due with the number of these murders/disappearances.

    The number of murdered women who had been hitchhiking near the small town of Santa Rosa in a fairly short period of time suggests one serial killer operating in the area but, in light of the number of similar crimes throughout the region, it is very possible that some or all were unrelated.
    There were a number of "suspects" identified by Law Enforcement to one or more of these crimes. There was some particularly interesting evidence of one of these murders that was found in the wreckage of an accident when the above mentioned Jr College Professor died.

    Graysmith's book on Zodiac has been read by many true crime followers and the link to either one serial killer or Zodiac himself (if he ever really existed) has been made without a reliable assessment of the evidence.

    I think what really happened was that the availability of young women hitchhiking created the opportunity for some men to take advantage of the chance to fulfill their rape fantasies by picking up hitchhikers, taking them somewhere they would not be seen to rape and kill and then dumping the bodies where they wouldn't be found, at least not until all forensic evidence was gone. Some of these men did it once, some more often. Eventually they stopped. Some were caught and prosecuted but many have gone about their lives. There has been DNA collected in a few of these cases but if the perpetrator has not been convicted of a serious felony, his will not be on any data base.

    There is still a chance that one or more of these guys will be found out but I suspect most will die of natural causes related to old age and be mourned as good citizens.
     
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  9. burblestein

    burblestein Well-Known Member

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    "Lost Coast Highway", a recently published book by Gray George, is an excellent source for info on the Santa Rosa hitchhiker murders. Although the book is primarily about Kerry Graham and Francine Trimble disappearing in 1978, there is a lot of info about the murdered hitchhikers due to similarities in the crimes. There is also an interesting chapter on characteristics of serial killers.

    I highly recommend this book.
     
  10. burblestein

    burblestein Well-Known Member

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    LE theorized that a utility repairman, postal worker, or someone in similar occupations would have been familiar with the Calistoga Road and Mark West dump sites.
     
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  11. theshadow45

    theshadow45 Well-Known Member

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  12. theshadow45

    theshadow45 Well-Known Member

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  13. killer Chaser

    killer Chaser Member

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  14. Mountain Mama

    Mountain Mama Well-Known Member

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    killer Chaser, please elaborate if possible.
     
  15. burblestein

    burblestein Well-Known Member

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    The Arizona connection to the Hitchhiker Murders is tenuous. While Deborah Carrick's ID was found at Hwy 101 and Mark West Road, the Hitchhike victims were found further east on Mark West Road, away from 101. Also, her remains did not show the typical signs of the Hitchhiker Killer. She was not stripped nude, for instance. There was no information given about her earrings; the victims were found still wearing a single earring.
     
  16. burblestein

    burblestein Well-Known Member

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  17. burblestein

    burblestein Well-Known Member

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  18. burblestein

    burblestein Well-Known Member

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    There are several striking features of the Santa Rosa Hitchhiker cases that link them. First is the similarity between the murderer's victims. His named victims were known hitchhikers and/or were hitchhiking when they became victims.Victims being considered in this analysis are:

    Maureen Sterling (age 12) and Yvonne Lisa Weber (13)
    Kim Wendy Allen (19)
    Lori Lee Kursa (13)
    Carolyn Nadine Davis (14)
    Theresa Diane Walsh (23)
    Calistoga Jane Doe (about 19)
    Kerry Graham (15) and Francine Trimble(14)
    * Jeannette Kamahele (19): not considered due to paucity of information

    All of the Santa Rosa Hitchhike victims were Caucasian or Hispanic females; none were African-American or Asian. Eight of his victims were teenage girls. A ninth was 23 years old, but appeared much younger. All nine victims were physically unprepossessing, being typically 5 feet 6 inches tall or shorter, and weighing about 125 pounds or less. None of the victims had been murdered where they were found; the actual murder location(s) are unknown. The victims' bodies were pretty well cleansed of potential clues.

    In those cases where cause of death could be determined, it was gratuitously cruel. In three cases, the victim was hogtied in such fashion that they throttled themselves to death when excruciating pain forced them to relax their legs. In another case, the victim was poisoned with strychnine—a viciously painful toxin. In the fifth case known, the victim was flung down an embankment with a broken neck and left to slowly die in the cold. His disposal method of flinging dead or dying girls down embankments indicates he was a physically powerful man. At one disposal site, he slipped over the edge of the bank while throwing a body. This leads me to believe he did not have a partner, based on the following line of reasoning. If one of a pair of murderers had slipped in mid-fling, the victim would have been pitched in a diagonal direction instead of directly downhill. As it was, the victim was found directly downhill from the slip marks. Thus, one assailant.

    It becomes readily apparent that the murderer has a mortal grudge against teenage girls. I would surmise that he was pretty roundly rejected in the middle school and high school courting games and did not take it lightly. The cause of his rejection may have been readily apparent, such as a severe case of acne, birthmark, or other facial deformation. Otherwise, or in addition, he just may have seemed too “creepy” for the girls to want to date. At any rate, he developed a deadly rage against adolescent females because of rejection. This rejection may have lasted past his teens, given the common young male tendency to “date down” in age by two to five years.

    Working off this thesis, the UNSUB is unlikely to have completed high school. Lack of education thus limits him to blue collar work and blue collar expectations. He is probably single and/or only tangentially involved with a significant other, who will be younger than he and will be subservient to him. If not living with family, he probably lives alone rather than with roommate(s). He may have grown facial hair to obscure his facial deformity. He will live an orderly and well planned life.

    Because the Santa Rosa dump sites were so obscure, it seems likely that the perpetrator is very familiar with the Santa Rosa area. He is likely to live locally, as serial murderers tend to operate in environments well-known to them. He may have had a service, maintenance, or delivery job that took him into these lesser traveled roads. Such a job would have supplied him not only with an anonymous commercial vehicle for cover, but may have given him access to a garage or warehouse as a murder site. In addition to a company vehicle, such as a van or truck, he probably owned personal vehicles. If so, that vehicle was probably an older model, due to his finances, but kept in good shape and appearance. Expect it to be a “macho” vehicle, such as a sport pickup, muscle car, or full-size pickup truck.

    I also note that two of the victim discoveries were by motorcyclists. These obscure roads used for his body dumps seem to be favorites for motorcycle excursions. Might the killer also be a biker?

    The two victims dumped outside Willits were found down a bank in a location consistent with the Santa Rosa victim discoveries. The use of a turnout on a major highway would seem to mark a difference in the killer's modus operandi, until the state of Mendocino County's back roads is considered. “Outsiders” on Mendocino scarce back roads are usually noted, and distrusted, by the locals because of widespread marijuana cultivators watching for LE. (My personal experience doing census work there will verify that.)

    The locations where the bodies were found are strikingly consistent. In all but one case, the victims were dumped down an embankment on an isolated road. The ninth victim was found in a creek downstream from such embankments. In all cases, the approach to any turnout used to discard the girls was along a winding road; at night, oncoming vehicle headlights would announce an intruder long before it arrived at the killer's chosen turnout. At any rate, the killer seems to have taken only the time necessary to hurl the dead or dying girls down the bank; there was no posing or other activity detected. He did not discard their clothing or other goods with them.

    One peculiarity of the victims' remains was the presence/absence of earrings. Both pairs of victims were found with an earring on site. So was one of the lone victims. LE has previously posited that the earrings were left to signify the femininity of the victims. I have a complementary point of view.

    It is a common signature for a serial killer to collect souvenirs from his victims. Instead of concentrating on the found earrings, let's look at the missing ones. In the cases above, comprising five victims, one of a pair of earrings is missing. In another case, the victim was found with wire loops but no earrings. A seventh victim had pierced ears but no earrings were found. An eighth was found with a hole in her right ear that may have held an earring. In only one case, there was no mention of earrings. To me, that points to a killer who collects earrings, and/or possibly other jewelry or feminine personal items, as trophies.

    Given that serial killers almost always choose victims of their own race, the UNSUB will be a Caucasian male. He is very much a cunning and organized lust killer, and a sadistic one, as shown by his brutal methods of killing. His removal of his victims' clothing removes a host of clues, as well as humiliating the deceased and showing his contempt for them. He is very much a methodical and organized killer. His only error known at present is the dumping of pairs of victims together; splitting those pairs would have complicated the investigation still further.

    The murderer is a control freak, as shown by his elaborate binding of his victims. Serial killers usually have pornography collections; his stash will skew strongly or entirely toward bondage and discipline. Don't be surprised if there is a Nazi motif in the porn collection. The UNSUB will be contemptuous of women in his personal and social life. Expect him to have a background of sexual offenses against minor girls.

    As his known offenses began in 1972, the UNSUB will be in his late 60s or older if he is still living. He may be incarcerated, given his high probability of having sexually offended against teenage girls.


    Any additions, corrections, or extensions of this offender profile are most welcome. This is strictly an amateur attempt, and could use professional input.
     
  19. Mountain Mama

    Mountain Mama Well-Known Member

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    burblestein that is a great profile! I think you are spot on - definitely a Santa Rosa local, white male, late 60s. Never thought about the biker angle but yes, that is a possibility. As you suggested, I believe it is very possible that he was filled with rage stemming from rejection experienced in the past. Hitchhikers made easy targets for him, and picking them up would not require the UNSUB to be charming or dashing in order get the women into the vehicle with him.

    On another note, I wonder if the places that the fires are occurring in Calistoga and Willits include (or began in) the same ravines that the killer dumped the women down all those years ago. Seems like the fires and dump sites were not far from one another. Could be nothing, but I thought it worth mentioning in case anyone has an idea if the crime scenes are now destroyed by the fires.
     
  20. burblestein

    burblestein Well-Known Member

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    As far as I can tell, the Calistoga Road and Franz Valley dump sites are in the burning area. The Willits turnout is well clear of fire. I don't know about the Bennett Valley site.
     

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