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A suspected serial killer in California was found guilty of slashing the throats of three murder victims and leaving two others for dead.
Ryan Scott Blinston, 38, was convicted on Tuesday on several charges related to a series of violent attacks against the elderly, according to a press release by the Butte County District Attorney’s Office. A Butte County jury consisting of seven men and five women found him guilty of three counts of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted first-degree murder, arson, and resisting arrest.
Blinston did not testify during the trial, which began on May 2, according to the release.
The state called on 35 witnesses to take the stand, including DNA experts, pathologists, and an anthropologist. The jury also saw “hundreds of pieces of evidence,” which included photographs, surveillance videos, phone data, and business records.
Prosecutors alleged the former tree-trimmer had begun his serial murders in May 2020. Blinston worked as part of a landscaping company at the Los Molinos home of Loreen Severs, 88, and Homer Severs, 91, according to the district attorney’s office. Authorities say cellphone GPS data put Blinston at the Severs’ home on May 23, 2020, days after completing his work, as part of a “scouting trip.” Blinston then returned to his hometown of Oroville – about 70 miles north of Sacramento.
The following day, Blinston returned to the Los Molinos home and slit the couple’s throats, killing Loreen and leaving Homer for dead. Homer survived his injuries but died in December 2020 from an unrelated illness.
Weeks later, Blinston attacked again, killing Sandra George at her Oroville home on June 4, 2020. Once again, it was a home he’d worked on previously.
“The prosecutors proved after the work was completed and the crew left, Blinston returned alone to George’s home and killed her,” said the district attorney’s office. “As with the Severs, her throat was slashed inside her home.”
On June 6, two days after George’s murder, the car of Vicky Cline, 57, was found to have been intentionally set on fire. Cline was spotted earlier in the day with Blinston (an alleged acquaintance) in downtown Oroville.
Authorities later connected Blinston to Cline after finding the victim’s blood and DNA in his car.
Blinston was also found guilty of attempting to kill an unnamed 50-year-old at his Brush Creek motor home on June 14, 2020. At the time, a Butte County Sheriff’s SWAT team was already on their way to arrest Blinston for arson, related to Cline’s burning vehicle.
As previously reported, Blinston had met the man earlier that day and was permitted to spend the night at his place for fear of bears. The man woke to Blinston attacking him with a knife, cutting his throat. Despite being severely injured, the man successfully drove Blinston from the home.
Authorities found Blinston trying to break back into the victim’s home with a hatchet before running for the woods, refusing to drop his weapon. Following a “brief but violent struggle,” Blinston was arrested, according to the district attorney.
Missing woman Vicky Cline was found dead one week after Blinston's arrest.
“Her body was later discovered by a fisherman in the Feather River near Belden on June 21, 2020,” according to the district attorney. “Damage to her throat was consistent with the other victim murders.”
A motive behind Blinston's violent series was never revealed. Prosecutors noted the attacks didn't appear to be an act of robbery, according to ABC News. Blinston also had a history of methamphetamine use.
“These were extraordinarily brutal because they involve cutting the victim’s throats,” District Attorney Michael L. Ramsey told ABC Redding affiliate KRCR-TV. “In our mind, he’s an extraordinarily dangerous person that deserves to be put away for the rest of his life.”
Although Blinston’s attacks took place in both Butte and Tehama Counties, prosecutors allowed the charges to be combined for the Butte County jury.
Blinston’s sentencing hearing will be scheduled on Wednesday. He faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.
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