Roger Reece Kibbe, the convicted serial killer known as the I-5 Strangler who once was a carpenter in Ceres, was strangled to death in his Mule Creek State Prison cell last week.
Kibbe, 81, was found dead in his cell by a prison guard who made his rounds shortly after midnight on Sunday, Feb. 28. He was serving multiple sentences at the prison outside Ione since 2013.
Authorities believe Kibbe’s cellmate, 40-year-old Jason Budrow, who is serving a life sentence with the possibility for parole for a first-degree Riverside County murder, killed the serial killer. Budrow was convicted in 2010 of killing a woman he had been dating after he drove to the sheriff’s department with her body stuffed in his trunk.
In 1984 Kibbe was a partner in a wood production facility, L&M Manufacturing at 3413 Railroad Avenue in Ceres. Today the building houses Stuart David Furniture.
The former furniture maker and brother of peace officer was convicted in 1991 of strangling to death 17-year-old Seattle runaway Darcine Frankenpohl. Her partially nude body was found in September 1987 near Echo Summit about two to three weeks after her death. Authorities at the time believe he was connected to other killings along the I-5 corridor because of his trademark method of using scissors to cut off victim’s hair and cut patterns out of their clothing as trophies. There wasn’t enough evidence at the time so he only was convicted of killing Frankenpohl – 25 years to life.
Kibbe subsequently pleaded guilty to rape and murder in six cases involving Amador, Contra Costa, Napa, Sacramento, San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties. Those victims were: Lou Ellen Burleigh, 21, in 1977 and Stephanie Brown, 19; Lora Heedrick, 20; Katherine Kelly Quinones, 25; Charmaine Sabrah, 26; and Barbara Ann Scott, 29, all in 1986.
All but Finch had been strangled to death. Finch was stabbed to death.
As part of a plea agreement, Kibbe led a Napa County sheriff’s deputy to locate the remains of Burleigh in a dry riverbed near Lake Berryessa in 2011. Burleigh was living in Walnut Creek when she disappeared in 1977 after she met with Kibbe a second time, believing she was being interviewed for a secretarial job he claimed to offer when it was a ruse to kidnap, rape and kill her. Kibbe told Burleigh that the Pleasant Hill shopping center on Contra Costa Boulevard was still under construction and that he’d have to interview her in his van. Burleigh was uneasy about the first encounter but told family that the interviewer did nothing unkind. He called Burleigh and asked her to come back the next day to talk some more but when she did she never returned.
Another victim of Kibbe’s was Modesto sex worker Lora Heedick, 20, who was last seen getting into a white Ford Maverick in downtown Modesto. She was killed April 21, 1986 but her remains were not discovered until that September. Heedick is buried in the Ceres cemetery.
A police officer pulled over Kibbe for a traffic violation shortly after the discovery of Heedick’s body on Sept. 6, 1986. The officer took in Kibbe for questioning because he resembled a composite drawing given by Heedick’s boyfriend who saw her “get into a white two-door car with a fiftyish man.”
Kibbe admitted picking up prostitutes for sex but said he was confused with the real killer.
The body of Stephanie Brown, 19, was found in an irrigation ditch off of Correia Road in San Joaquin County in July 1986.
The remains of Katherine Kelly Quinones, a 25-year-old alleged prostitute in Sacramento, were located near Lake Berryessa on Dec. 21, 1986.
Charmaine Sabrah, 26, was killed after her car broke down in August, 1986. She was picked up by Kibbe in his Datsun 280Z. Her body was found in November 1986.
Kibbe confessed to killing Pittsburg prostitute Barbara Ann Scott, 29, after setting up an encounter. Her body was found on the Antioch Golf Course in July 1986.
Prosecutors dropped the possibility of the death penalty because Kibbe was unlikely to ever realistically face execution in California.
Kibbe, a Chula Vista native, claimed he had a troubled childhood and that his mother beat him, and bullies teased him for stuttering. When he was 15 in 1954 he had been charged with petty theft and prowling and referred to a juvenile officer after it came to light that he was stealing women’s clothes from clotheslines, cutting them in unusual ways, and burying them.