Man arrested in murder of Palo Alto girl 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. Photo from Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety.

A 75-year-old resident of Hawaii has been arrested and charged for the rape and murder of a 15-year-old Palo Alto girl in 1982, authorities announced today (Aug. 9).

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 away from the bus stop the following morning sexually assaulted with 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 Sunnyvale Detective Matt Hutchison received a tip that led authorities to identify the lead suspect as Gary Ramirez, a former Fresno resident now 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 last week. He will be extradited on Wednesday, and will be arraigned for murder, kidnapping and rape charges following his arrival in California.

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. — Bay City News