POMONA, Calif. (AP) — A convicted child rapist who killed two 6-year-old boys in Southern California in the 1980s was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Kenneth Rasmuson, 59, showed no emotion as he was sentenced in Los Angeles County Superior Court in Pomona.
Rasmuson abducted and killed 6-year-old Jeffrey Vargo, who disappeared on July 2, 1981, after he left his house in Anaheim Hills in Orange County to look at a fireworks stand.
His body was found the next day at a construction site in Pomona, in eastern Los Angeles County.
“I had hoped to be at your execution because I wanted to look in your eyes and see the same terror that my son saw at his last moment,” the boy’s father, Bob Vargo, told Rasmuson at the sentencing hearing. “Because of your evil acts, the last time we saw our son was to view his scarred and lifeless body lying in a casket with his favorite toys,”
Rasmuson also kidnapped, stabbed and strangled 6-year-old Miguel Antero, who vanished on April 8, 1986, after stepping off of a school bus near his Agoura Hills home. His body was found that day in a wash near his home in the northwestern county.
His father, Gil Antero, said in court that Miguel was “caring and full of joy” and said his killing “has shattered our lives to pieces.”
Decades after the boys were killed, DNA evidence linked Rasmuson to the slayings, prosecutors said. In 2015, he was arrested at his parents’ home in Sandpoint, Idaho, where he had been living as a registered sex offender.
Rasmuson pleaded guilty in February to two counts of murder with the special circumstance that he committed multiple killings.
The case was marked by conflict over District Attorney George Gascón’s reform policies — which in general bar the filling of special-circumstance allegations — and prompted the District Attorney of neighboring Orange County to file his own case against Rasmuson out of concern that he might one day be eligible for parole.
Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said he stood “”shoulder to shoulder” with the families, friends and neighbors of the two boys outside the courthouse and released white balloons in honor of the victims.
“This is what victimization does,” Spitzer wrote on Facebook. “It isn’t just one life interrupted. Or one family. It ripples across families, across neighborhoods, and across entire communities.”
“The pain of losing two beautiful, 6-year-old boys will never go away, but today there was justice for Jeffrey and Miguel,” Spitzer wrote.
Rasmuson spent 17 years in prison for the 1980s molestation of an 11-year-old boy in Santa Barbara County and a 3-year-old Los Angeles boy. After serving his time, he was committed to a state mental hospital as a dangerous sex offender but was released in 2007.