Gary Ramirez arrested, charged with the 1982 murder of Palo Alto resident Karen Stitt

The last time Karen Stitt was seen alive was September 2, 1982. She had spent the evening with her boyfriend in Sunnyvale, California — at a miniature golf course and playing video games in a 7-Eleven.

Stitt hung around until around midnight when it was time for her to catch an overnight bus back to her home in Palo Alto, about 10 miles away. But after her boyfriend dropped her near the bus stop – in a hurry to get home before curfew – Stitt was kidnapped, raped and stabbed at least 60 times. Her naked body was left behind a cinder block wall 100 feet from the bus stop, her wrists bound behind her back by her own shirt, court documents said.

For nearly four decades, California authorities struggled to solve her murder. There were no suspects and few leads that could lead investigators to identify one.

Karen Stitt was just 15 years old when she was brutally murdered in 1982 on her way home from a date with her boyfriend.

Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office

But justice for Stitt’s loved ones may finally have arrived this week, when the Santa Clara County Attorney’s Office announced on Tuesday that the teen’s accused killer in Hawaii has been arrested.

Gary Ramirez, 75, was taken into custody at his Maui home last week. He now faces charges of murder, kidnapping and rape, according to a criminal complaint filed in California.


Gary Ramirez in 1979, three years before Karen Stitt’s death.

Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office

“Behind every old homicide record in every major police department is a person, a broken heart and a secret,” Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a press release. “The mystery of Karen Stitt’s death has been solved thanks to advances in forensics and a detective who would never give up.”

That detective, Matthew Hutchison, received a tip in 2021 that “a son of Rose Aguilera Ramirez” had killed Stitt and began tracking all four of her sons, court documents say. He used newspaper ads from family obituaries, online census databases, and Facebook posts to locate family members.

Hutchinson narrowed the four brothers down to Gary Ramirez and one other as potential suspects. Next, the detective found Ramirez’s grandchild on Facebook and obtained his DNA to test with blood and other bodily fluids found at the scene of Stitt’s murder.

That DNA, which was sent to a lab in April, came back last week as a match, with Gary Ramirez as the suspected killer.

Local officials in Santa Clara County and Maui teamed up with federal law enforcement to locate Ramirez and take him into custody on August 2.

Ramirez, who is officially an Air Force veteran, now faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.

The operation was funded primarily by a grant awarded last year by the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate cold cases, the Santa Clara County Attorney’s Office said. Gary Ramirez arrested, charged with the 1982 murder of Palo Alto resident Karen Stitt


Hung is a Interreviewed U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Hung joined Interreviewed in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

Related Articles

Back to top button