Jeffrey David Vargo's body turned up at a Pomona construction site the day before July 4, 1981. The 6-year-old California boy had last been seen the day prior, at a fireworks stand he had bicycled to; he had been strangled. The three decades since have been ones of starts and stops. Over the years, various officers ran the evidence they had through a national database, with no luck. The case was reopened in 1997, but nothing came of that. But as the Los Angeles Times reports, in late 2014, police got a hit, and they yesterday revealed their progress. A press release from the department states that Cold Case Homicide Detectives on Friday "traveled to Sandpoint, Idaho, to assist in the arrest Kenneth Rasmuson for the 1981 murder."
Rasmuson, now 53, has lived in Idaho since 2010, reports the OC Register, ending up there after serving two prison terms for molesting young boys in December 1981 and May 1987, reports KHQ. The Times' own report on the 1987 case is jarring. It cites the prosecution's timeline: Rasmuson snatched a screaming 3-year-old, "committed an atrocious sexual act upon the child," then abandoned him in a deserted area near a highway. The judge handed Rasmuson a maximum 17-year prison sentence for that crime, calling it as "cruel, vicious and callous as conduct can become." Rasmuson will appear in a local court tomorrow and then be extradited to California to face murder charges. Jeffrey's mom, Connie Vargo, tells the Register, "To be honest with you, we're still in disbelief."