Peninsula Cops Hope Reward Defrosts Cold Case

The San Mateo County Sheriff's Office hopes a new round of investigation and a $5,000 reward will yield answers in the rape and murder of a Modesto woman 30 years ago.

On the 30th anniversary of the murder of Roann Schweitzer, Sheriff Greg Munks said today his office is reexamining the case's evidence and records.

Munks also announced a new $5,000 reward, sponsored by the Carol Sund/Carrington Foundation. He hopes the reward will encourage tipsters to come forward.

At a news conference today, foundation spokeswoman Jennifer Hicks said the organization seeks out cases like Schweitzer's, with an innocent victim, family members still needing answers, and a timely anniversary on the horizon.

"We have found this is an effective way to get information," she said of the reward.

Schweitzer was last seen alive February 2, 1979, in a San Francisco restaurant with her two daughters. Schweitzer, 43, went outside to retrieve her car and never came back.

The next day, a hiker spotted Schweitzer's body in the San Bruno Mountain area, up a small embankment near Guadalupe Canyon Parkway, in unincorporated San Mateo County.

Tests concluded she had been sexually assaulted and shot, although it was unclear where the murder took place. Schweitzer's car, a black and gold Ford Thunderbird, turned up in San Francisco, not far from the restaurant.

Investigators have a DNA sample they believe belongs to the killer, but no witnesses to any portion of the night's events.

Sgt. Linda Gibbons, who is heading the sheriff's office effort, said advances in DNA technology could unearth answers that proved elusive back in 2001, when the department last examined Schweitzer's purse and its contents for clues.

Back then, investigators did find DNA belonging to a male, not Schweitzer's husband. The profile was entered into the national DNA index, but did not produce a match. Six suspects, all San Francisco residents, were interviewed without result. Gibbons believes two of these individuals already have DNA in the national registry.

Today, Gibbons said, all felony inmates in the state of California must submit DNA samples to this database. Modern technology has also expanded her office's access to DNA registries across the country and across the world.

Sgt. Bryan Cassandro was 36 years old when he first investigated Schweitzer's case back in 1979. Today he is working with Gibbons to track down and re-interview the six initial suspects.

"It's tough when we don't have any witnesses," he said.

Munks said his office is hoping someone will come forward with  "hearsay evidence," or, better yet, direct evidence. Even seemingly unimportant details can produce leads, he said.

"It's unlikely after 30 years the suspect didn't tell somebody something," Munks said.

Anyone with information related to the case should call the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office at (650) 363-4063, or the anonymous witness line, (800) 547-2700.

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