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Gypsy Hill Murders: DNA Evidence Spotlights New Suspect in 1976 Crimes

By    |   Tuesday, 09 September 2014 08:15 AM

The Gypsy Hill murders of 1976, which saw five young California women and one in Reno killed, now have a new suspect — 66-year-old Rodney Halbower.

ABC News reported that Halbower is currently serving time in an Oregon state prison for unrelated attempted murder, assault, and robbery convictions until at least 2026. During a new trial for Cathy Woods, who's served more than 30 years in connection with the Reno death, DNA testing revealed for the first time Halbower's possible connection to the nearly 40-year-old case.

"The DNA on the cigarette butt at the crime scene" and "at two of the California rape-murder cases belongs to Rodney Halbower," read court documents released Monday.

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According to The San Francisco Chronicle, Halbower was convicted of rape in 1976 just blocks from where the Reno victim was discovered. He later escaped from prison in 1986 and fled to Oregon, where he committed a number of new crimes.

Chief Deputy Public Defender Maizie Pusich, Woods' attorney, said that her client's original confession to the crime came at a time when she was very sick, and was merely trying to get her own room at the Louisiana State University Medical Center, where she was a psychiatric patient.

"There was some discussion about whether or not she qualified to be in a single room, and after they told her she didn't qualify for a single room, she told them that," said Pusich. "I suspect the reason why she thought of this case is because this was the case everybody around her was talking about. This is something she would have heard about many, many times."

Pusich said her client had never met Halbower.

The Gypsy Hill murders took place between January and April of 1976. Victims included college student Michelle Mitchell of Reno, as well as five young women from the San Francisco Bay Area: 18-year-old Veronica Ann "Ronnie" Cascio, 14-year-old Tatiana Marie "Tanya" Blackwell, 17-year-old Paula Louse Baxter, 26-year-old Carol Lee Booth, and 19-year-old Denise Lampe.

The victims were stabbed to death, and some were found to be sexually assaulted.

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The Gypsy Hill murders of 1976, which saw five young California women and one in Reno killed, now have a new suspect — 66-year-old Rodney Halbower.
gypsy hill, murders, dna, test
Tuesday, 09 September 2014 08:15 AM
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