Even though a convicted sex offender is charged in Los Angeles with abducting a 6-year-old boy in Anaheim and killing him, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer announced Tuesday he has also charged the defendant for the same crime.
Spitzer said he charged Kenneth Kasten Rasmuson, 59, for the July 2, 1981, killing of Jeffrey Vargo, because he is concerned his counterpart in Los Angeles County, George Gascon, intends to drop special circumstance allegations in the case, which would allow Rasmuson to get a parole hearing at some point instead of at least life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Rasmuson was ordered to stand trial in Los Angeles in August 2016 on charges of killing Vargo and another 6-year-old boy in 1986.
Rasmuson was arrested in March 2015 in Sandpoint, Idaho, after DNA evidence allegedly linked him to the July 2, 1981, killing of Vargo.
Construction workers found the boy's body a day after the victim left his Anaheim Hills home to visit a fireworks stand, according to authorities.
While Rasmuson was awaiting trial in that case, he was charged with another murder in the April 8, 1986, killing of another boy identified only as Miguel, according to authorities. His body was found in a wash in Agoura Hills the same day he was discovered missing from his home, prosecutors in Los Angeles said. Rasmuson is also allegedly linked to that killing by DNA evidence, prosecutors said.
Rasmuson was facing special circumstance allegations of multiple murders and that the killings were done during the commission of a lewd or lascivious act on a child.
The allegations made Rasmuson eligible for the death penalty.
Rasmuson was previously convicted in 1981 of sexually assaulting another boy, prosecutors said.
Orange County prosecutors intended to let Los Angeles prosecutors handle the case, but stepped in on Thursday by filing a criminal complaint of their own because Spitzer believes the defendant should at least face life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted. Spitzer has also been a vocal critic of Gov. Gavin Newsom's move to suspend the death penalty in the state.
A hearing is scheduled Monday at the Pomona Courthouse on whether Gascon's office can drop the special circumstance allegations.
In a filing last week, Spitzer's office argued that his office "has an interest in this case because the victim... was a resident of Orange County at the time of his murder. His parents and next of kin have remained residents of Orange County to the present.''
Spitzer's prosecutors also argued the boy was kidnapped in Orange County. The prosecutors argue that Gascon is not moving to dismiss the special circumstance allegations "because there are proof problems or because it would be fair and just to do so, but because of a series of special directives through which he endeavors to fundamentally change criminal procedure by way of executive fiat. His attempt to do in this case is manifestly contrary to the furtherance of justice.''
Rasmuson is accused of "horrific'' crimes, according to the motion filed by Spitzer's office last week.
"He kidnapped two young, vulnerable 6-year-old boys, sexually assaulted them, and murdered them,'' the motion reads. "Defendant's background, character, and prospects show he is a dangerous serial predator with no likelihood to ever change,'' according to the motion.
"He has served two prison terms for molesting an 11-year-old boy he lured into seclusion before sodomizing him and he abducted a 3-year-old boy from the boy's front yard before later sodomizing him and leaving him wandering naked on a street the next day.''
Authorities found child pornography on the defendant when he was arrested in 2015, "and his internet history revealed multiple searches for child pornography,'' according to the motion.
Two months after Vargo was killed, Rasmuson "lured an 11-year-old boy into seclusion by asking him to help find his handicapped dog,'' Orange County prosecutors alleged.
Rasmuson allegedly sexually assaulted the boy, who lied to his attacker that he liked it so he could get away, which worked, prosecutors said.
Rasmuson was sentenced to prison for the sexual assault in Santa Barbara, and when he completed that prison term he was deemed a "mentally disordered offender,'' Orange County prosecutors said.
Rasmuson was released from prison in 1985 and ordered to undergo sexual disorder treatment, and during this time he allegedly killed Miguel, prosecutors alleged.
A year after he is accused of killing Miguel in Agoura Hills in April 1986, Rasmuson allegedly abducted a 3-year-old boy from the front yard of his Los Angeles home and drove away, prosecutors alleged.
The boy was found naked the next day wandering the side of a road and Rasmuson was eventually convicted and sentenced to 17 years in prison, prosecutors said.
After Rasmuson served his time he was designated a sexually violent predator and was committed to the Atascadero State Hospital.
Rasmuson allegedly "admitted'' to doctors that he "committed at least 10 child molestations since age 18, a period of time in defendant's life comprising only four and a half years of freedom from incarceration,'' Orange County prosecutors alleged.
However, Rasmuson was released in 2007.
"Defendant grabs unsuspecting children off the streets of their neighborhoods, or even from the front yards of their houses,'' according to Orange County prosecutors.
"He is brazen, impulsive, and unconcerned with the suffering of others, all of which make him highly dangerous.''