Peninsula cold case murders linked to 1976 Reno killing

Authorities say they've linked the murders of five young women in San Mateo County in 1976 to a murder in Reno that same year.
March 6, 2014 10:21:33 PM PST
Six women lost their lives at the hands of a cold blooded killer. Now, the FBI has renewed interest in the case and is putting together a task force, not just to solve that cold case, but because it may be connected to another killing in Reno that same year.

All of the young women were killed between January and April 1976.

Eighteen-year-old Veronica Cascio was last seen January 7. Her body was dumped at the sharp Park Golf Course in Pacifica. She was stabbed 32 times and raped.

Fourteen-year-old Tanya Blackwell was last seen January 24. Her body was found in the Gypsy Hills area of Pacifica. She was also stabbed to death. Her wounds were almost identical to Cascio's.

Seventeen-year-old Paula Baxter was last seen February 4 as she left Capuchino High School in San Bruno. Her body was found behind a Millbrae church.

Twenty-six-year-old Carol Booth was last seen March 15. Her body was discovered in a shallow grave near Kaiser Hospital in South San Francisco.

Nineteen-year-old Denise Lampe was stabbed to death April 1 in her car at the parking lot of Serramonte Shopping Center in Daly City.

Doug McCool and his partner Charles Zetterholm are former detectives from South San Francisco. They investigated one of the murders.

"One of the things I wasn't satisfied with was not solving the Carol Booth case, McCool said.

Now there is a chance of bringing some closure to the unsolved murders, which the FBI now believes were committed by the same person.

"Forensics evidence between a number of the cases, time frame of the murders and the methods used by the offender to commit these crimes," FBI assistant special agent in charge Jerry Bessette said.

THE FBI won't go into details but they say an unsolved murder of University Of Nevada student Michelle Mitchell in Reno has given them enough new evidence to revitalize their investigation into the cold cases. The 19-year-old was killed in February 1976.

"The Reno murder occurred in between the time frame of our five murders and recent evidence that's been uncovered leads us to believe that the Reno murder is linked to several of our murders," Bessette said.

In a strange twist in the case, in 1979, a woman named Kath Woods confessed to Mitchell's murder and was tried and sentenced to life in prison. A law enforcement source tells ABC7 News that investigators believe Woods may have had a male accomplice that committed the other murders.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the FBI's tip line at (415) 553-7400.

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