WCPD: Lou Ellen Burleigh’s body found after 34-years

June 27, 2011 19:20 pm · 23 comments

Big news out of Walnut Creek tonight!

The body of Lou Ellen Burleigh has been found.

The Walnut Creek Police released the following information on the discovery of Burleigh, who has been missing since 1977:

In 1977, Lou Ellen Burleigh (21 years old) left her Walnut Creek residence and went to a job interview, she never returned home. Her vehicle was found later in Pleasant Hill.

A suspect by the name of Roger Kibbe was developed but the case went cold. In 2002, San Joaquin District Attorney Investigator Bertocchini resubmitted DNA evidence in the Interstate 5 strangler cases from the 1980’s. The DNA examination identified Roger Kibbe as the responsible. Kibbe was currently in custody for a murder in El Dorado County. Kibbe was interviewed and confessed to several I-5 strangler cases.

In addition he confessed that he had kidnapped Lou Ellen Burleigh, tied her up, drove her to Lake Berryessa where he raped and killed her. He said he left her body in a dry riverbed near the lake. In 2003, Bertocchini, Walnut Creek Police Detective Bill Jeha and Napa County District Attorney Investigator Michael Frey took Kibbe to several places near Lake Berryessa and conducted searches in hoping to find Burleigh, but they were unsuccessful.

In 2007, Frey discovered a place that was similar to where Kibbe described as the place he left Burleigh. An exhaustive search turned up nothing.

In 2009, the investigators took Kibbe to this same place but he denied it was the place. Later in 2009, Kibbe was convicted for six murders including Burleigh’s. He was sentenced to multiple life sentences without a possibility of parole.

In early 2011, Napa County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Bartlett took an interest in the Burleigh case and asked District Attorney’s Investigator Frey to be taken to the location where Lou Ellen Burleigh was most likely left.

A short time later, Bartlett discovered a small piece of bone sticking out of some gravel on the bottom of the creek bed. Frey and Bartlett confirmed with an anthropologist it was a human female bone. The bone was sent to a DNA lab where it was confirmed to be that of Lou Ellen Burleigh. Last Friday, Frey and Walnut Creek Police Detectives flew to Washington to notify Lou Ellen’s mother and two brothers of the news.

1 Contra Costa Open Carry June 27, 2011 at 7:25 PM

Great job Detectives. You have done the impossible. You have been able to bring her home so her family can now rest.

2 Unknown June 27, 2011 at 7:28 PM

I’m sorry things has to turn out this way no matter how much time has gone by. I feel for the family. I’m sorry for their loss and happy that the person responsible is behind bars 4ever.

3 Diablo June 27, 2011 at 7:34 PM

I remember this story as a kid growing up in Concord. Until I just read this I have not thought about this case in a very long time. Great job to all departments for solving this cold case.

4 Chester E. Kitty June 27, 2011 at 7:38 PM

I’m so glad they never forgot this case. I totally remember it. If I remember correctly, Lou Ellen worked at Heald Business College in Walnut Creek and that’s where she got the info for the job position. I always remembered this case because I attended Heald the year after she went missing. I’m glad her family has closure now but still so sad!

5 Shak Li Batahat June 27, 2011 at 7:42 PM

The family has some closure now, a place to bury their child and morn.

The convicted murderer confessed to “several” I 5 murders and the rape and murder of this 21 year old young woman. That is incredibly cruel and unusual punishment to the families of the people murdered.

Roger Kibbe should be hung by the neck, shot by a firing squad or perhaps stoned to death by the families of those he murdered. There is no way in hell we tax payers should be providing shelter, food, medicine or anything else to this evil and cruel man. And its not that we are lowering ourselves to his level my killing him, we are ridding ourselves of a cruel and evil menace that deserves nothing more than an unmarked paupers grave where he can rot for eternity.

6 Thank Goodness! June 27, 2011 at 8:14 PM

Hat’s off and kudos to the officers who caught this monster and found this victim’s remains after so many years.

My heart goes out to the family of this poor young girl. Tragic.

7 anonmtz June 27, 2011 at 8:43 PM

RIP young lady.

Special condolences to the family who have waited all these years.
Take a deep breath.

8 anon June 27, 2011 at 8:58 PM

I’m glad Lou Ellen’s family has her back.

@Shak — it’s more expensive to execute someone, and, yes, state-sanctioned killing isn’t any different than what murderers do. You may want to lay down with dogs, but I prefer not to.

9 Shak Li Batahat June 27, 2011 at 9:41 PM

I don’t lay down with the dog’s I just kill the rabid ones. Big difference.

10 Mimi (original) June 27, 2011 at 9:41 PM

Here come the bleeding hearts! “stopping a life is the same whether you’re a murderer or ridding society of a convicted killer”. NOT!! California has a death penalty but we r not allowed to execute menaces to society. We house them, feed them, care for them medically when they SHOULD lose their lives as they took others! Wake up people!

11 Darwin June 27, 2011 at 10:15 PM

Great job officers! Now the family can place her to rest.

I have a solution, the people convicted of 707b offenses that have life sentences. They should be given a labotomy and have their organs donated. Just a thought :) Might as well do something positive from their existance.

12 BabyMomma June 27, 2011 at 10:28 PM

Im happy that her family can now lay her to rest. This story made me so sad. She was such a young lady. I hope they can get some sort of peace now. Im thankful the POS is paying for what he did. Just sorry it took so long to get him behind bars!

13 Concernicus June 27, 2011 at 10:36 PM

@8: you’re wrong. if all killing is murder, then all sex must be rape…or all rape is sex. refusing to acknowledge the nuances doesnt make the acts the same or even similar. killing to kill and killing to eliminate a threat are DIFFERENT things entirely.

glad to hear that after all this time, they were still giving it thought. im sure the family of lou ellen can be brought some peace from this.

14 cornfed June 28, 2011 at 2:43 AM

Awesome job Deputy Bartlett!

No doubt this LEO spent many an hour and dollar of his own to find this beautiful young lady.

Unfortunately, there are several other unsolved disappearances and sex murders having occured from the sixties through the seventies in the central CoCo County area. Very sad for the victims and families. Good to see that in this case they were not forgotten.

15 huey9k June 28, 2011 at 4:20 AM

@anon #8–

Its only more expensive because once someone is sentenced to death, there are approx 20 years of appeals, and a metric boatload of waiting. In short, the state is doing it wrong.

Someone is convicted with a avalanche of conclusive evidence and/or a confession?

Take them out back and spend 35 cents on the bullet that goes in their brain.

16 anon June 28, 2011 at 6:35 AM


A barbarian is a barbarian — no matter how you want to dress it up. You may want to hide behind the government, but you’re still a barbarian.


State-sanctioned killing is killing. You’re taking the life of a person. We can eliminate the threat by lifetime incarceration. You’re all about barbaric vengeance.

17 just sayin' June 28, 2011 at 9:05 AM

“State-sanctioned killing is killing. You’re taking the life of a person. We can eliminate the threat by lifetime incarceration. You’re all about barbaric vengeance.”

Lifetime incarceration doesn’t eliminate the threat to prison guards or other inmates. Lifetime incarceration, it could be argued, is more cruel (psychologically) than the death penalty, as the person has no hope of ever being free. Prisons are already overcrowded. The man has admitted to the murders, so there’s no chance of executing an innocent man. The death penalty will save time and money as there will be no lengthy and costly appeals from this sicko.

Killing is killing, yes. But even you have to admit that in certain circumstances it’s permissable.

18 me myself and I June 28, 2011 at 12:25 PM

@Contra Costa open carry

A family can never truly rest after something like that happens .I imagine bringing bones home after all that time will bring back a lot of painful memories for them.

19 Concernicus June 28, 2011 at 1:49 PM

@16: i cant decide if you really are that ignorant or if youre just a troll. either you really are the kind of twit who doesnt see shades of gray in life (LOL good luck with life in that case), or youre purposely baiting intelligent people with nonsensical fantasies about vengeance. im not going to waste my time debating with you, as its exceedingly obvious that you have a pair of blinders on and are terribly comfortable with them staying there.

20 Woo-hoo June 28, 2011 at 3:12 PM

No, you wake up, MIMI (original). The death penalty process is outrageously expensive, costs more legally than housing the convict for probably 20 years, does not decrease murder statistics in any way, and is quite an overreach when it comes to punishment options available.

Murdering murderers accomplishes nothing, and shouldn’t be an option to one’s peers.

21 anon June 28, 2011 at 3:33 PM

Hmmm, we are all dying, I think that he just deserves to die a little faster then some of the others.

22 Alpha Beta June 28, 2011 at 5:00 PM

Death is too swift – jail is too wrong. It should be up to the family what happens to him and if they want to do it or have the state handle it for them. Their family was broken as a result. What is justice? And all the bleeding heart liberals would agree if this was their child. It is too easy to rationalize otherwise when you are safe.

23 Alpha Beta June 30, 2011 at 5:10 AM

I’m not “pro” death penalty – rah, rah. In the case of serial killers I’m all for it. As for letting the family decide – that doesn’t work for me either. What if the “family” decides to let this guy go free? I don’t want these monsters walking amongst us. NO parole EVER for people who hurt children or serial killers. Period. In fact, I’m for rounding up the criminals and sociopaths and sending them all to Easter Island or some uninhabited island far, far, away.

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