OROVILLE, Calif. (AP) — Prosecutors announced Thursday that a tree trimmer in rural Northern California
has been charged in three throat-slashing serial killings.
Ryan Scott Blinston, 37, of Oroville, was charged on Wednesday with murder, attempted murder, and arson, with special sentencing allegations that he used a deadly weapon, assaulted an elderly victim, and committed multiple killings.
Blinston did not enter a plea during his arraignment Thursday, but was appointed a public defender and ordered held without bail pending a May 19 court hearing, according to Butte County District Attorney Michael L. Ramsey, who said some victims' relatives were in court for the hearing.
If convicted, Blinston faces life in prison with no chance of parole.
Authorities said Blinston had been in jail since last year, when he was arrested and charged with another neck-cutting.
1) The Tehama County District Attorney's Office and the Butte County District Attorney's Office announce the joint prosecution of Ryan Scott Blinston, 37, of Oroville, for the murder of Loreen Severs and the attempted murder of Homer Severs, both of Los Molinos, as well as two separate murders and an attempted murder in Butte County.
2) Blinston is also accused of murdering Sandra George in Oroville on June 4, 2020, and Vicky Cline in Oroville on June 6, 2020. Blinston is scheduled to be arraigned in Butte County Court today at 3:00, and will be tried in Butte County per an agreement between the TCDA and the BCDA. pic.twitter
.com/fqjUHJr97Q— Tehama County District Attorney (@TehamaCount
According to prosecutors, Blinston was working for a tree-trimming service in Butte and Tehama counties north of Sacramento in May and June of last year when he returned to the clients' homes after the work was finished and slashed the throats of the residents.
Loreen Severs, 88, of Los Molinos died, and her husband, Homer Severs, 91, survived but died the following December from an unrelated illness, according to authorities.
Blinston is also accused of murdering Sandra George, 82, and a friend, Vicky Cline, 57, both of Oroville, as well as torching Cline's car.
“Blood and DNA evidence on and in Blinston’s car were forensically matched back to Cline, and her body
was later discovered by a fisherman in the Feather River near Belden,” said a joint statement from the Butte and Tehama County district attorneys’ offices, which filed the charges in Butte County Superior Court.
Blinston was apprehended before dawn on June 14 — about a week after Cline went missing — by a Butte County sheriff's SWAT team that had tracked him to a motorhome in the heavily wooded and isolated Brush Creek, where authorities planned to arrest him on suspicion of burning Cline's car, according to prosecutors.
“As the team approached the motorhome, they heard muffled screams from within and loud banging on the outside of the motorhome, which turned out to be Blinston attempting to enter the motorhome with a hatchet,” according to the district attorneys’ statement.
Authorities said Blinston fled into the woods, refused to drop the hatchet, and was apprehended after a brief struggle involving the use of a stun gun
and pepper spray.
According to the resident, Blinston met the 50-year-old owner of the motorhome earlier and stayed because he told the man he was afraid to leave after dark because of bears
According to Butte County District Attorney Michael L. Ramsey, the man claimed he was sleeping when he awoke to find Blinston threatening him with a knife.
Blinston slashed his throat, but the man claimed he was able to kick him out of the motorhome and lock the door, according to Ramsey.
The seriously injured man was treated by a medic and flown to a hospital by helicopter.
Ramsey believes the SWAT team saved the man's life because the isolated area lacked cell phone service and no one would have heard the man's cries for help.
Last year, in that case, Blinston pleaded not guilty to attempted murder.
Blinston had previous arrests, including one in 2013 for allegedly driving a stolen Lexus and being in possession of three guns stolen in burglaries.
Ramsey, however, stated that none of his previous arrests involved the level of violence seen in the attacks.