Convict to face charges in gruesome cold-case 'Gypsy Hill murders'

Convict to face charges in gruesome cold-case 'Gypsy Hill murders'
Rodney Halbower was extradited from Oregon to San Mateo County to face charges in decades-old murder case. (San Mateo County Sheriff's Office)

A 66-year-old convict will be charged in the cold-case "Gypsy Hill murders."

DNA evidence linked Rodney Halbower to the nearly 40-year-old case in which two women were killed while they were being raped, authorities said.


Halbower has been extradited to San Mateo County to face charges, authorities said Thursday. He was extradited from Oregon State Prison to the Bay Area after he was linked by DNA to the 1976 murders of Paula Baxter and Veronica Cascio, according to the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office. He was serving time for attempted murder.

Halbower faces two counts of murder that occurred while the women were raped, authorities said.

Area investigators with the assistance of the Oregon State Police Forensic Services Division were examining DNA evidence for various cold cases when they discovered the match, sheriff's officials said.

Last March, the FBI launched a task force to examine the unsolved killings of five women in San Mateo County. At the time, authorities were trying to determine whether there was a connection between the Bay Area killings and the slaying of a nursing student in Nevada.

Cascio, who also went by Ronnie, was seen on Jan. 7, 1976, walking from her home to a bus stop in Pacifica. The 18-year-old's body was found the next day at the Sharp Park Golf Course.

She was the first victim in a string of killings in a matter of months that year.

Tatiana "Tanya" Blackwell was found the following month.

Paula Baxter was 17 years old when she disappeared on Feb. 4, 1976. She was last seen leaving the parking lot of Capuchino High School in Millbrae, Calif.

The following morning, the station wagon she was driving was found parked in a nearby neighborhood street. Two days later, her body was found hidden among brush behind a Latter-day Saints church.

Carol Lee Booth disappeared in March on her way home from work. Her body was found in a shallow grave in south San Francisco.

In April, Denise Lampe was killed at a shopping center in Daly City.

Authorities on Thursday said other murders were still under investigation.

Anyone with details about the killings is urged to call the FBI tip line at (415) 553-7400.

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