SUNNYVALE, Calif. (BCN) — Hawaiian resident Gary Ramirez, 75, was flown to California 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.

Almost 40 years ago, Palo Alto High School student Karen Stitt was dropped off at a bus stop between El Camino Real and Wolfe Road, following a date with her boyfriend in Sunnyvale in early September 1982. Her body was found roughly 100 yards from the bus stop the following morning.

She had been sexually assaulted and had dozens of stab wounds, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office. For decades, the case had no potential leads despite thorough investigations and DNA database runs.

That was until 2019, when a Sunnyvale detective received a tip that led authorities to identify the lead suspect as Gary Ramirez, a former Fresno resident who was residing in Makawao, Hawaii. His DNA matched the blood and bodily fluid samples found on Stitt’s body, according to the county’s crime lab.

Months of planning between Santa Clara County, Maui and federal law enforcement officials led to Ramirez’s arrest at his home Aug. 2. Since then, prosecutors have charged Ramirez and he is expected to be arraigned for kidnapping, rape and Stitt’s slaying.

Following his flight to California, Ramirez was booked into the Santa Clara County jail. Ramirez’s first court date is pending.

If found guilty, Ramirez faces life in prison without parole. Anyone with more information on Ramirez is urged to contact the county district attorney’s cold case prosecutor Rob Baker at rbaker@dao.sccgov.org.

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