New lead in 1976 "Gypsy Hill Murders"; task force launched


REDWOOD CITY, Calif. - Nearly four decades after the murder trail went cold, the FBI has announced a task force to probe the Northern California killings dubbed the "Gypsy Hill Murders," which took place in early 1976 in San Mateo County.

The initiative was revealed at a press conference in Redwood City on Thursday, and accompanied the announcement that DNA from a 1976 murder in Reno, Nev. was matched with samples of DNA found during the investigation of the Gypsy Hill case, reports CBS SF Bay Area.

In the first four months of 1976, five young women, Veronica Ann "Ronnie" Cascio, Tatiana Marie "Tanya" Blackwell, Paula Louse Baxter, Carol Lee Booth, and Denise Lampe, were found stabbed to death in San Mateo County. No suspect has ever been identified.

FBI spokesman Peter Lee said Thursday that law enforcement officials are convinced the same individual responsible for the Gypsy Hill slayings is also responsible for the killing of University of Nevada-Reno nursing student Michelle Mitchell, reports KTVU-TV.

Mitchell, 19, was found with her hands tied behind her back and her throat slashed in a garage just half a block away from where her car had broken down hours earlier, according to KTVU.

Lee said all the victims in the Gypsy Hill case were around Mitchell's age and many had car problems around the time they were killed, reports KTVU.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Jerry Bessette said the task force will begin by knocking on doors and talking with people.

The Bureau is asking anyone with information in the case to call 415-553-7400.

"Even little things will help," Bessette said.