WALNUT CREEK, Calif. -- Police have discovered the body of a Walnut Creek woman who was kidnapped and murdered in 1977 by the serial killer known as the I-5 Strangler.
The remains of 21-year-old Lou Ellen Burleigh were recently found in a dry riverbed near Lake Berryessa by a Napa County sheriff's deputy who had taken an interest in the case, Walnut Creek police announced Monday.
Roger Reece Kibbe was convicted of the murder, as well as five others, in 2009. As part of a plea deal, he agreed to cooperate with authorities and locate Burleigh's body.
At the time Kibbe claimed Burleigh was his first victim, and led police detectives around the lake on an unsuccessful search for her body. Burleigh was the only one of his victims who had not been found.
Burleigh was working for Heald Business College at the time of her killing and agreed to meet Kibbe to talk about a secretary job opening at a cosmetics studio.
When she met him on Sept. 10, 1977, he told her his office was under construction and asked her to get in his van so they could talk about the job.
After they talked, he asked her to meet him again the morning after. She was seen for the last time around 9 a.m. Sept. 11.
Kibbe, who confessed to raping and murdering her, previously was convicted of killing 17-year-old Darcine Frackenpoh, whose body was found in El Dorado County in 1987, and has been in prison since 1991.
He was up for parole in 2009 when San Joaquin County prosecutors charged him with murdering Burleigh and five other women and dropping their bodies alongside highways and freeways between 1977 and 1987.
The guilty plea was part of an agreement with prosecutors that he would get life in prison without the possibility of parole instead of the death penalty, and that prosecutors would not charge him in connection with other homicides.
Napa County Sheriff's Deputy Michael Bartlett began to search for the remains himself earlier this year, police said. Soon after, he discovered a small piece of bone sticking out of some gravel on the bottom of the creek bed. The bone was sent to be tested and DNA confirmed it belonged to Burleigh.
Police flew to Washington state and told the victim's mother of the discovery.
(c) 2011, Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.).
Visit the Contra Costa Times, www.contracostatimes.com.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.