Walnut Creek police announced Monday that a bone fragment found in a Napa County river bed near Lake Berryessa is that of Lou Ellen Burleigh, a 21-year-old Walnut Creek woman who disappeared 34 years ago and was one of at least a half dozen victims of “I-5 srangler” Roger Kibbe.
Walnut Creek police Sgt. Tom Cashion said a DNA test earlier this year confirmed that the bone belonged to Burleigh. On Friday, Walnut Creek detectives and a Napa County district attorney’s investigator flew to Washington to notify Burleigh’s mother and two brother’s that her remains had been found and identified.
A guilty plea by Kibbe, now 70, in September 2009 put to rest many of the questions surrounding the 1977 disappearance of Burleigh. She was was last seen on her way to a job interview at a Pleasant Hill shopping center on Contra Costa Boulevard.
At the time of his plea, Kibbe was already serving 25 to life in San Quentin State Prison for the 1987 murder of a 17-year-old West Sacramento prostitute, whose body was found at Echo Summit in El Dorado County. He had also been indicted in six other killings that took place between 1977 and 1986, including the killing of Burleigh. Kibbe received his nickname for committing some of his crimes along Interstate 5.
Kibbe, who was eligible for the death penalty, avoided it. Cashion says Kibbe had already begun cooperating with investigators by providing key details about these crimes.