San Mateo County officials announced Thursday the extradition of a man to be charged with the “Gypsy Hill” cold case homicides of two female teens in 1976.
Rodney Halbower, 66, was scheduled to be arraigned at 1:30 p.m. after being booked into county jail Wednesday following his extradition from Oregon State Penitentiary, sheriff’s spokeswoman Deputy Rebecca Rosenblatt said.
Halbower is accused of two counts of homicide and the special circumstance of murder during the course of rape of 18-year-old Veronica Cascio and 17-year-old Paula Baxter, Rosenblatt said. Sheriff Greg Munks, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe, FBI Special Agent in Charge David Johnson and Acting Pacifica police Chief Joe Spanheimer held a news conference at 11 a.m. in Redwood City to discuss this case.
The FBI named Halbower in September as a person of interest in homicides of five girls and young women killed between January and April 1976, dubbed the Gypsy Hill murders. Prior to his extradition, Halbower had been in custody in Oregon for attempted murder, according to the FBI.
The sheriff’s office’s crime lab and Washoe County, Nevada crime lab, with the assistance of the Oregon State Police, linked Halbower’s DNA to the teens’ deaths during an examination of DNA profiles of cold cases, Rosenblatt said.
Sheriff’s officials believe there were more than two victims tied to Halbower and the investigation is ongoing, she said. The Gypsy Hill case has not been solved in its entirety, but at least for now, family members of Cascio and Baxter can feel comforted by Halbower’s arrest, Rosenblatt said:
“We have enough evidence to tie him to those two murders.”
Cascio’s body was found on Jan. 8, 1976, at the Sharp Park Golf Course in Pacifica, a day after she was last seen walking from her home in Pacifica to a bus stop at Bradford Way and Fairway Drive, deputies said.
Baxter was last seen on Feb. 4, 1976, leaving the parking lot of Capuchino High School in San Bruno and went missing for two days until her body was located in some brush behind a church on Ludeman Lane in Millbrae, according to the sheriff’s office.