Six Murder Victims, One Killer. A New Search Begins

By  | 

RENO, NV - In February of 1976, as Reno was reeling from news of two brutal murders of young women in four days, the great fear was that a serial killer was stalking the town.

Any remaining shred of that fear seemed erased three years later with the arrest and then the trial of Cathy Woods for the murder of 19 year old Michelle Mitchell.

We now know that fear was well-founded.

Whatever part, if any, Cathy Woods may have played in Mitchell's death, we now know someone else, a man, a serial killer was here in Reno that night and left his DNA at the scene.

As Reno investigators searched for her killer, their counterparts in the Bay Area were investigating what came to be known as the Gypsy Hill Murders.

Six women, including Michelle Mitchell, killed by the same man.

The first, 18 year old Veronica Cascio last seen walking to a bus stop in Pacifica January 7. Raped and stabbed numerous times, her body was found on a golf course the next day.

Two weeks later 14 year old Tanya Blackwell disappeared walking to a convenience store. Her body would be found months later off Gypsy Hill Road in Pacifica, also stabbed to death.

On February 4th 17 year old Paula Baxter was seen leaving the parking lot at her high school in San Bruno. Her car was found nearby the next morning. Her body in brush behind a local church.

The killer then apparently took a trip to Reno, where he left his DNA on a cigarette butt in the garage next to Michelle Mitchell's body February 24th.

Three weeks later he was back in the Bay Area where 26 year old Carol Lee Booth disappeared while walking from a bus stop, Her body found in brush near a driving range close to Kaiser Medical Center.

And on April First the body of 19 year old Denise Lampe was found in her car in a Daly City parking lot.

All six women, young, attractive, all with brown or blonde hair parted down the middle.

All killed between early January and April First.

All meeting a violent end at the hands of the same man wielding a knife.

And now the FBI and investigators from two states will try to find him.

Officers will begin knocking on doors in the Bay Area Monday, looking for witnesses.

It's now evident that effort has been ongoing for the past few months here in Reno, triggered by the negative results on Cathy Woods' DNA test.

They'll be looking for a Caucasian man with a powerful build and dark hair, right-handed we're told. Someone who was in the Bay Area in early 1976, but traveled to Reno in late February.

Over the years investigators tested the timeline against known murderers including Ted Bundy, but found nothing. They considered the notorious Zodiac Killer, who was never found, but details of the crime never seemed to fit.

A profile done in 1976, speculated the man they're looking for has few sexual contacts, but a possible taste for bestiality. Brutal and sadistic, probably with a poor relationship with his mother and an ineffectual father.

It's a trail long gone cold, but this new link with the Michelle Mitchell case, has given them some new potential leads.