A convicted rapist was sentenced to life in prison plus one year on charges he raped and murdered a 13-year-old Sacramento girl almost 30 years ago.
Herman Lee Hobbs, 57, was linked to the murder of Terri Maree Pata through DNA evidence. He was arrested in May 2004 at Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga, where he was serving a 25-years-to-life sentence for raping a 15-year-old Yuba County girl. After being confronted with the evidence in the Pata case, Hobbs pled guilty to the crime.
Hobbs was sentenced Friday in Sacramento Superior Court. The sentence is the maximum punishment allowable under 1975 law.
After linking Hobbs to the Pata case, detectives launched an investigation into his possible involvement in four other murders of young girls in Sacramento County during 1970s. The girls were about the same age as Pata and were found murdered in the vicinity of North Highlands. That investigation is ongoing
Police are also looking into any possible connection between Hobbs and the unsolved murders of girls and women in nearby counties. Investigators admit that those cases are a long shot. "Other than the similarities in age, sex and the nearby jurisdictions, there's nothing to connect Hobbs to those unsolved murders," said Laurie Earl, a senior assistant with the state inspector general's office.
Pata was last seen January 21, 1975, at Rio Linda Junior High School. She left school early that day, complaining of a headache, but never made it home. Nine days later, a man searching for aluminum cans found her body stuffed into a pipe in a North Highlands drainage ditch, just off Long Tree Road, a mile west of El Centro near Elverta Road.
Hobbs, who lived near the high school, was linked to the murder through his DNA collected from the girl's body. Pata had been raped and stabbed in her face and back.