A California serial killer known as the “I-5 Strangler” was found dead in his cell Sunday in what authorities believe was a homicide.
Correctional officers discovered 81-year-old Roger Kibbe—who raped and killed at least seven women—dead around 12:40 a.m. Sunday during an institution population count at Mule Creek State Prison, according to a news release from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Kibbe’s cellmate Jason Budrow, 40, was found standing in the cell next to the “unresponsive” body, authorities said.
“Medical staff immediately responded to the incident and transported Kibbe to the institution health care facility for higher level of care,” officials said. “Life-saving measures were unsuccessful and Kibbe was pronounced deceased at 1:23 a.m. by institution medical staff.”
No cause of death was announced.
Kibbe was serving multiple life sentences for a string of murders of women and girls in the 1970s and ‘80s. He often cut his victim’s clothing and hair with scissors and then kept the items as trophies, according to the Bay Area News Group.
Budrow was also serving a life sentence without the possibility for parole for first-degree murder, officials said. He's been moved to the administrative segregation unit while the investigation into Kibbe’s death continues.
Kibbe was convicted in 1991 of strangling 17-year-old runaway Darcine Frackenpohl four years earlier, according to The Sacramento Bee.
He was later linked to six additional murders in the early 2000s after the emergence of DNA technology. He pleaded guilty to new murder counts with special enhancements for rape and kidnapping in 2009 and was sentenced to consecutive life sentences behind bars in exchange for prosecutors agreeing not to seek the death penalty.
Kibbe’s first known murder was of 21-year-old Lou Ellen Burleigh in 1977, who disappeared after going to a job interview for a cosmetics job at a Pleasant Hill shopping center.
Burleigh had told family members before she disappeared that she'd met a man who claimed to work at the shopping center but told her that because the center was under construction, she’d have to do the job interview in his van. She was uneasy about the arrangement but nothing unusual happened during their first meeting. She returned the next day for a second interview and disappeared, the Bay Area News Group reports.
Kibbe later confessed to tying her up, driving her to Lake Berryessa, raping her and killing her.
A bone fragment belonging to the 21-year-old was discovered in 2011 after Kibbe told authorities where he had disposed of the body.
Kibbe was also connected to the killings of five other women in 1986: Barbara Ann Scott, Stephanie Brown, Charmaine Sabrah, Katherine Kelly Quinones and Lora Heedrick.
Heedrick’s body was found Sept. 6, 1986 near Highway 12 and Interstate 5, nearly five months after the 21-year-old was last spotted getting into a car in her hometown of Modesto.
Brown, 19, was also discovered strangled and sexually assaulted along Highway 12 in July 1986.
Sabrah, of Sacramento, disappeared on Aug. 17, 1986 after her car broke down along I-5. The 26-year-old left her mom with the broken down vehicle and accepted a ride from a man in a two-seater sports car who had offered to help. She was found dead, strangled by her tank top, in November of that year near Highway 124 in Amador County.
The next year, authorities said Frackenpohl was strangled to death with a cord with dowels on both ends. The item was later discovered in Kibbe’s storage locker.
Its not known whether he may have had other, unidentified victims.
His crimes and unique signature were also profiled in an episode of Oxygen's "Mark of a Killer."
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