1976 Reno murder may be connected to California cold cases

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Updated: 3/06/2014 8:26 pm
RENO, Nev. (KRNV & MyNews4.com) -- In 1976 a 19-year-old University of Nevada Reno student was murdered near campus.

Now FBI officials said  her death may be connected to the deaths of several other women in the bay area around the same time.

"38 years ago Veronica "Ronnie" Cascio, Tanya Marie Blackwell, Paula Baxter, Michelle Mitchell, Carol Lee "Beedy" Booth, and Denise Lampe were taken from our community," said FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Gerald Bessette.

Bessette said decades later new information ties these crimes together.

"We have reason to believe their deaths are linked to each other based on forensics evidence between a number of the cases, time frame of the murders and the methods used by the offender to commit these crimes," he said.

Dick Gammick is now Washoe County District Attorney, but in 1976 he was a patrol officer for the Reno Police Department, and he was working the night 19-year-old Michelle Mitchell was found dead.

"The call came out that we had had a, that they found a deceased person, turned out to be Michelle Mitchell, up in a garage just south of the university," Gammick said. "So it was on my beat at the time I was on duty."

Back then Cathy Woods admitted to the murder. She's still behind bars, but 38 years later the case is reopening.

"We keep files, Gammick said. "We keep all the evidence. We keep all this stuff, because you never know, especially murder cases since they're a lifetime deal, you never know when something is going to come up."

When an old case spans hundreds of miles and several jurisdictions, Gammick said it's a big challenge. 

"Sometimes you find witnesses are deceased," Gammick said. "You find witnesses are gone. You can't find them. You find that some of the evidence may have issues."

So the agencies involved want the community's help.

"No tips or observations are too small for us," Bessette said. "Every piece of information helps."

"Some innocuous little piece may clear up the whole puzzle," Gammick said.

The FBI San Francisco field office will be coordinating all tips and leads. If you have information, call 415-553-7400. Then press "0" and tell the operator you're calling about the Gypsy Hill cases. All calls are confidential.
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Kramer - 3/7/2014 1:22 PM
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drop the "may be", They say they are

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