Unsolved, but not forgotten
A 16-year-old boy hiking through the wooded hills northeast of Santa Rosa in 1972 stumbled upon a human skull, bleached from the elements. He thought it was an artifact.
But the skull wasn't from an ancient burial site, as the youth imagined. It was a sign of a young life brutally cut short.
"They were just little baby girls," said Glenn Frost of the adolescents, aged 12 and 13, whose remains he discovered while with a friend.
From early 1972 to mid-1979, the bodies of seven girls and young women were found in rural Santa Rosa, buried or dumped along steep embankments or in creek beds. All were found nude. Some had been raped, strangled or hogtied.
Waves of detectives have tried solving the cases, particularly when a serial homicide suspect emerges somewhere, such as a recent Marin County case.
The Sonoma County 1970s murders have haunted not just family members, but also detectives, friends and even strangers who became connected to the cases.
"It's firmly stuck in my mind .<TH>.<TH>. those names," said Frost, who runs a Santa Rosa concrete firm. "And I'm 55 going on 56 years old."
For nearly 40 years, the seven case files have slowly expanded. The emergence of DNA evidence has led another generation of detectives to search for clues. This year, they have sifted through evidence preserved through the decades in freezers and submitted possible DNA samples to a national database.
"The science is different now; we're hoping something comes back," said Lt. Dennis O'Leary, who runs the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office violent crime unit.
Current investigators declined to specify which cases or what material contained possible DNA. However former coroner's officials said semen was present in some of the cases, according to newspaper archives.
Results could take months, or longer, because lab technicians must handle recent cases first, O'Leary said. Detectives also hope someone might finally offer an essential clue.
"The families have had no closure. We as law enforcement don't have closure," said veteran sheriff's detective Gary Freitas.
HITCHHIKING TO CLASS
Kim Allen, 19, a Santa Rosa Junior College art major and Ursuline graduate, was hitchhiking from her job in Larkspur to class.
Lori Kursa, 13, a Cook Junior High eighth-grader in Santa Rosa, had run away from home.
Herbert Slater Junior High students Maureen Sterling, 12, and Yvonne Weber, 13, were dropped off at the Redwood Empire Ice Arena.
Shasta County 14-year-old Carolyn Davis was last seen by her grandmother, who dropped her off at the post office in Garberville.
Theresa Walsh, 23, was hitchhiking from Southern California to Garberville to spend Christmas with her family and 2-year-old son.
A friend of Jeannette Kamehele, 20, was about to pick her up on April 25, 1972, at a Cotati Highway 101 onramp when the vehicle in front of him pulled over and she got in. Perhaps she's still alive; her remains were never found.
<NO1><NO><NO1><NO>The last body was found in July 1979. It has never been identified, but forensics tests indicate she could have been 19 years old with red or auburn hair. She wore contact lenses.
PHOTOS POSTED ON WALLl
To this day, photocopies of their portraits, seven young faces with long hair parted in the middle, remain posted on the wall above detectives' desks.