SAN MATEO COUNTY, CA. For Immediate Release. By Cody Salfen. Between January and April 1976, five women were sexually assaulted and murdered in San Mateo County, California. To date, no arrests have been made and each of the cases remains unsolved. Earlier this year, a potential break in the case came when law enforcement officials announced a link between these five killings and a sixth killing in Reno, Nevada. The Reno killing occurred during the same time period as the San Mateo County killings – in 1976. The body of a 19-year-old college student by the name of Michelle Mitchell was discovered in February of 1976 in a garage in Reno. Investigators pieced together that Mitchell’s vehicle broke down near a busy Reno intersection near the location where her body was subsequently discovered. An unknown individual in a VW Bug, possibly the killer, came to Mitchell’s assistance and that’s the last time Mitchell was seen alive.
The link between the San Mateo County killings and the Reno killing? A cigarette butt located under the body of Michelle Mitchell – the Reno victim. DNA located on the cigarette butt matched that of DNA located in two of the San Mateo County killings. And, authorities allege the DNA of Oregon prison inmate Rodney Halbower matches the DNA located in both Reno and San Mateo County.
The San Mateo County victims include Veronica “Ronnie” Cascio – a young adult last seen in January of 1976 in Pacifica. Cascio’s body was subsequently located at the Sharp Park Golf Course in San Mateo County. The next victim – Tanya Blackwell. A 14-year-old that disappeared from the area near her Pacifica, CA residence when, according to family members, she left the residence on foot headed to a local 7-11. Blackwell’s body was discovered in June of 1976 in Pacifica. The third victim – Paula Baxter. A 17-year-old last seen in the area of Capuchino High School in San Bruno, CA on February 4, 1976 – her body located the following day near the Latter Day Saints Church in San Bruno. The fourth victim – a 26-year-old. Carol Lee Booth – last seen near a bus stop in South San Francisco on March 15, 1976. Her body was not recovered until May of 1976 – located in South San Francisco. The fifth San Mateo County victim – a 19-year-old named Denise Lampe. Lampe was last seen near the Serramonte Mall in Daly City. Lampe’s body was discovered that same day, inside of her Ford Mustang, which was parked at the mall.
The latest news - this week, the FBI named 66 year-old Oregon State Penitentiary inmate Rodney Halbower a "person of interest." The FBI's apparent basis for the claims is the DNA connection between Halbower, a number of the San Mateo killings, and the single Reno killing. A check of the Oregon Department of Corrections inmate database revealed that Halbower is currently incarcerated at the Oregon State Penitentary - serving time on various criminal convictions, believed to be unrelated to the Gypsy Hill killings. According to Department of Corrections records, the convictions for which Halbower is currently incarcerated include attempted murder, assault, and robbery. Recently, Halbower was transferred from the Nevada prison system to the Oregon prison system. As a part of the transfer, Halbower was required to submit a DNA sample. Halbower's DNA apparently was a match to the DNA associated with the Reno and Gypsy Hill killings.
This article was authored by Cody Salfen. ABOUT THE AUTHOR. Cody Salfen is a California licensed private investigator with a wide array of civil and criminal investigative experience in the public and private sectors. Cody currently operates Cody S Investigations (www.CodySInvestigations.com) – A California Private Investigation and Private Detective Agency. Cody has been featured in various local and national news stories for his work on civil and criminal investigations. Cody has consulted with NBC Bay Area, Dateline NBC, ABC 7 News, and has been featured on NBC's National News (NBCNews.com) for his expertise relating to criminal investigations - oftentimes consulting on various news stories relating to high profile criminal investigations in California. In addition to managing a diverse caseload of private investigation and related matters, Cody serves as a "Subject Matter Expert" for the State of California on the topic of private investigations. In this role, Cody works as a consultant, assisting the California Department of Consumer Affairs, Bureau of Security and Investigative Services in conducting various occupational analyses relating to the private investigation industry. Cody is a court appointed contract criminal investigator in both the County of Marin and the County of Santa Clara - working on criminal cases for each county's indigent defense panel. Cody is an active member of the California Association of Licensed Investigators, the Professional Investigators Association of California, the California Defense Investigators Association, the National Council of Investigation and Security Services, and the World Association of Detectives. In addition, Cody founded and operates Cody S & Associates, Inc. (www.CSI-Legal-Services.com) a CA Department of Consumer Affairs security training, firearms training, security consulting, CA Dept. of Justice firearm safety certification provider, and CA Dept. of Justice and FBI approved Live Scan Fingerprinting Service provider. To speak with a member of the Cody S Investigations private investigation team, you can call the Cody S Investigations San Francisco private detective office at (415) 932-9278 or (408) 313-0109. Cody S Investigations provides investigative services throughout the State of California, including a wide array of private investigation services in the greater San Francisco bay area. This includes handling various investigative matters relating to criminal investigations for offenses ranging from minor low-level misdemeanor offenses to serious offenses such as murder.
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