On February 24, 1976, Michelle Mitchell was slain near the University of Nevada campus. She was discovered with hands bound and throat slashed in the garage of a nearby house. In March of 1979, the Reno Police Department ascertained that a mental patient at the Louisiana State University Medical Center at Shreveport, Louisiana -- Cathy Woods -- had told hospital staff that she had killed a girl named Michelle in Reno.
Cathy Woods, who had originally entered a plea of 'not guilty,' was convicted of the crime and was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Woods recently asked to have her DNA checked against the DNA on record in coordination with the crime and her DNA does not match the DNA connected to the Mitchell case.
Reno Police Deputy Chief Mac Venzon says that the DNA does match that of five unsolved homicides in the Bay Area, dubbed the "Gypsy Hill" cases. Based on the forensic links between a number of the cases, the time frame of the murders, and the methods used by the offender to commit these crimes, investigators are confident all of the crimes were committed by the same offender.
Law enforcement is asking the public for any information concerning any of the individual unsolved cases, including any connections between the California and Reno cases. Law enforcement officers will be canvassing a number of areas to determine whether anyone has any information.