A pair of decades-old cold cases involving the sexual assault and murder of two young boys in L.A. County has been closed with a no contest plea.
Fifty-nine year-old Kenneth Rasmuson entered pleas to two counts of murder and is facing life in prison without parole.
Six-year-old Jeffrey Vargo disappeared on July 2nd, 1981 in Anaheim Hills when he left home to look at a fireworks stand. His body was found the next day at a construction site in eastern L.A. County.
Rasmuson was also accused of the kidnapping and murder of an Agoura Hills boy. Miguel Antero was abducted, stabbed and strangled after getting off a school bus near his home in 1986. The 6-year-old's body was found later that day in a wash near his home.
DNA evidence revealed a link between the killings and Rasmuson. In 2015, he was taken into custody at his parents' Idaho home where he was living as a registered sex offender.
He was charged with murder with special circumstances, which could have made him eligible for the death penalty. But with more than 700 people currently on California’s death row, and a concern that a capital sentence could lead to years of costly appeals, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon barred prosecutors from pursuing the death penalty.
Rasmuson had spent 17 years behind bars after being convicted of molesting two other California boys; an 11-year-old Santa Barbara County boy and a 3-year-old Los Angeles boy. Upon his 2007 release from prison, Rasmuson was committed to a mental hospital as a dangerous sex offender.
Concerned that Gascon would drop the special circumstances allegation, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said last week he would be charging Rasmuson with Jeffrey Vargo’s killing.
Gascon responded in a statement that “The defendant was always facing life in prison” noting that the special circumstance allegation had not been dismissed “due to a recent court ruling.”