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Hawaii man charged with stabbing woman 59 times to death in 1982 extradited to Bay Area

SUNNYVALE, Calif. (KION-TV) UPDATE August 22, 2022, at 5:59 p.m.- A man suspected of murdering a woman 40 years ago in Sunnyvale made had his first court appearance delayed in the Bay Area Monday.

Hawaiian resident Gary Ramirez, 75, arrived in the Bay Area Saturday after he was arrested earlier in the month on suspicion of raping and killing a 15-year-old Palo Alto girl in 1982, police said Monday.

"We were on for arraignment today.  The arraignment did not go forward because of medical reasons," said Barbara Cathcart, a Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney.   The exact nature of the medical issue was not disclosed in court. 

Ramirez was booked into the Santa Clara County jail without bail. His next scheduled court hearing is on August 29th. 

Ramirez faces life in prison without parole if found guilty.

"A cold case is always challenging to prosecute because, as you say, many of the witnesses have become older, and sometimes they have passed away. However, in this particular case, our main evidence is scientific. So it is DNA evidence," Cathcart said.

 Hawaii resident charged with murder for stabbing woman 59 times in 1982

A teenage girl's dead body was found naked with excessive stab wounds in Sunnyvale in 1982, said the Santa Clara District Attorney's Office.

After 40 years, a suspect has been arrested for the murder of Karen Stitt. Gary Ramirez was arrested at his home in Makawao on the island of Maui, according to the DA's Office.

Stitt's body was found concealed behind a blood-stained cinderblock wall. She was 15 at the time and was last seen walking with her boyfriend toward the Sunnyval bus stop near El Camino Real and Wolfe Road, according to the DA's Office.

The girl from Palo Alto was found to have been sexually assaulted with 59 stab wounds, and no significant leads were ever developed. Her body was found 100 yards from the bus stop.

Photo of Gary Ramirez. The date the photo was taken is unknown.

DNA samples of blood and bodily fluid left at the Karen Stitt crime scene were used to identify Ramirez as the suspect.

Ramirez was arrested on August 2 and charged with murder, kidnapping, and rape charges. An extradition hearing is set for August 10, and he will be arraigned on the above charges when returned to Santa Clara County, according to the DA's Office.

Photo of victim Karen Stitt.

“Behind every old murder file in every major police department, there is a person, heartbreak, and a mystery,” DA 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.”

If convicted, the former Fresno resident faces life in prison without parole.

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Ricardo Tovar

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