“Behind every old murder file in every major police department, there is a person, heartbreak, and a mystery,” Santa Clara County 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.”
On Sept. 2, 1982, Stitt, 15, took a bus from her home in Palo Alto to Sunnyvale to see her boyfriend. Later that evening, Stitt's boyfriend watched her walk toward the bus stop, but he then ran home because he was afraid of getting grounded for staying out past his curfew.
The following morning, Stitt's nude body was found behind a blood-stained cinderblock wall and an autopsy determined she had been sexually assaulted and stabbed 59 times, prosecutors said.
Despite an extensive investigation, the case went cold and there were no significant leads until recently.
In early 2019, Sunnyvale DPS Detective Matt Hutchison received a tip and determined the teenager’s killer was likely one of four brothers who were originally from Fresno, the district attorney’s office said.
In April, Gary Ramirez was identified as the main suspect in the case and his DNA confirmed he was the source of blood and bodily fluid left at the crime scene, prosecutors said.
Police arrested Ramirez at his home in Maui on Aug. 2.
He is expected to be extradited to California to face charges.