DNA leads to cold case arrest in deadly stabbing of 19-year-old woman in 1976

Dogged cold case detectives have linked a known sexual predator to the decades-old murder of a 19-year-old woman near San Francisco through DNA.

Leon Seymour, 71, was charged Wednesday with fatally stabbing Denise Lampe in Daly City, Calif., in 1976. Prosecutors said a blood stain on Lampe’s jacket matched Seymour’s DNA.

“We’re grateful to have the clarity that DNA evidence brings us,” San Mateo County Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Guidotti said, according to the San Jose Mercury News. “Mr. Seymour can finally be brought to justice. Something he has avoided for many, many years.”

Seymour was civilly committed to a state mental hospital after serving a 33-year prison sentence for sexually assaulting six women, the San Mateo Daily Journal reported Saturday. The charges against him included rape and attempted sodomy.

Seymour is being held on $10 million bail after being charged with Lampe’s death.

Authorities had long believed Lampe and four other San Mateo County women had been victims of a serial killer. The killings became known as the notorious “Gypsy Hill Murders.”

The victims were all stabbed multiple times and were all suspected to have been raped before they were killed. The murders occurred over a span of five months in 1976.

In 2015, Rodney Halbower, an Oregon inmate, was arrested in connection with two of the murders, the Mercury News reported Thursday. He goes on trial for the murders in January.

DNA evidence also linked him to the murder of a female student in Nevada in 1976.

Following the DNA hit, police worked on a timeline for Halbower and determined he was incarcerated at the time of Lampe’s death, according to the paper.

San Mateo prosecutor Sean Gallagher said it was “a working assumption” one person killed the five women.

“They were all very similar,” he said, according to the paper. “The targeted ages of the victims, in how they were killed, close in time, close in geography to where they disappeared or where the bodies were found.”

Seymour’s attorney Paul DeMeester said the DNA match is the only evidence he’s aware of tying his client to the Lampe murder.

“DNA is going to be front and center of this case,” he told the Daily Journal.

San Mateo District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe told the paper that prosecutors notified members of Lampe’s family of the arrest.

“We believe we are going to be able to obtain justice for them by holding the killer of their loved one accountable,” he said.