Thank goodness for modern science! New DNA tests have allowed detectives to identify a man who killed two teenagers (possibly more), over 40 years after the crimes. A man named Rodney Halbower was convicted of raping and murdering the girls in 1976 on Sept. 19, and now the person once only known as the “Gypsy Hill Killer” will be brought to justice.
During a five-month span in 1976, five young women were found murdered in San Mateo County, CA. The first of these victims was found on Gypsy Hill, hence the name, though the serial killer was also known in the media as the “San Mateo Slasher.”
Halbower was actually in prison in Oregon for another attempted murder when he was linked to the crimes. He escaped from a Nevada prison in 1986, and was arrested quickly after on suspicion of rape and attempted murder in the Northwest. He was convicted, but had to finish his sentence in Nevada first. In 2013, he was paroled and sent back to Oregon, where they took a DNA sample. Shockingly, it matched DNA found inside two San Mateo victims over four decades earlier.
According to NBC News, Prosecutor Sean Gallagher explained to the jury that the two girls had both been abducted and raped in the town south of San Francisco. One was stabbed to death, the other was bludgeoned in the head and then stabbed in the heart.
While the CA judge must follow sentencing rules from the time when the crime was committed, it sounds like Halbower will still spend the rest of his life in prison after being found guilty. The 69-year-old will likely get two life sentences, served consecutively, so even if he gets parole he will have to begin a new sentence. “Our expectation is that this monster of a killer will never, ever, be allowed to be free on our streets again,” said District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.
Halbower certainly didn’t admit to the slayings. As soon as the trial began, he started having outbursts. “I am not guilty!” he screamed. “I have never raped or murdered in my life!” He also claimed that he couldn’t be the killer because he “wasn’t here during that period of time.” Gallagher confirmed that Halbower did, in fact, live in San Bruno in 1976, which is close enough to have committed the crimes. Hopefully, the conviction will allow the families of the victims some peace and closure after 42 years of agony.