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Hearing Opens For Accused “I-5 Strangler″

October 24, 1988 GMT

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. (AP) _ A prosecution witness described how one victim’s near-nude body was found just west of town as a preliminary hearing opened Monday against a man linked by authorites to the ″I-5 Strangler″ killings.

El Dorado County sheriff’s Detective Jim Watson also testified in the hearing for Roger Reece Kibbe that the victim, Darcie Frackenpohl, 17, had been strangled.

The body of the victim, a runaway from Seattle, was discovered by a jogger in September 1987 two to three weeks after she was killed.

Kibbe, 49, a former furniture maker and brother of a law enforcement officer in the area, was arrested last April for investigation of the murder of Ms. Frackenpohl.

Sacramento County Sheriff Glen Craig has described Kibbe as a suspect in the other six murders believed part of the ″I-5 Strangler″ series, although no other charges have been filed in those cases.

The killings occurred between April 1986 and last May in the Sacramento and Stockton areas along Interstate 5 and south of Reno, Nev.

Eighteen witnesses are scheduled to be called during the four-day preliminary hearing to determine whether Kibbe should be bound over for trial.

Watson said a search of the area just off U.S. 50 below Echo Summit also turned up two packaged condoms, a black high-heeled shoe and the victim’s pink dress, found about 1,000 feet from the body.

Also called as a witness was a 17-year-old woman who said she had worked as a prostitute with the victim in West Sacramento. The witness also identified the victim’s pink dress.

When the preliminary hearing opened, Municipal Court Judge Eugene Rasmussen renewed his earlier ruling that no still or television cameras would be allowed during the session.

Last June, the judge had declined to allow cameras but rejected a defense motion to close the hearing.

The closure had been opposed by media representatives who said that in other alleged serial murder cases courts have held that public access is too important to bar reporters.

Defense attorney Phil Kohn had argued Kibbe couldn’t get a fair trial and expressed concern about news accounts that tended to link Kibbe to the other six murders.

Kibbe was ordered to appear in a police lineup late this summer and, as a result, prosecutors said investigations in at least one of the other murders were underway even though no other charges have been filed.

Prosecutors have said the other jurisdictions are all following the El Dorado County proceeding to see if it will assist in their cases.