A California man working as a tree trimmer is a serial killer — who slashed the throats of five people, killing three of them in the past year, prosecutors said Thursday.
Ryan Scott Blinston, 37, of Oroville, is charged in Butte County Superior Court with three counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder for the alleged serial slayings last May and June, according to a statement by district attorneys in Butte and Tehama counties.
Blinston, who was arrested in June for attempted murder for allegedly slashing the throat of a Bear Creek man, was working for a tree-trimming service on May 18 and returned days later to the clients’ Los Molinos home and killed Loreen Severs, 88, Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey and Tehama County District Attorney Matt Rogers said.
Evidence showed that Blinston forced his way into Severs’ home and also tried to kill her 91-year-old husband, Homer.
“Both had their throats cut,” the statement read, adding that Homer Severs survived but died in December of an unrelated illness.
Prosecutors say Blinston then killed again while working as a tree-trimmer on June 4 while at the Oroville home of 82-year-old Sandra George.
“After the work was completed and the crew left, Blinston returned to George’s home and killed her,” prosecutors said in the statement. “As with the Severs, her throat was slashed inside her home.”
Two days later, Blinston allegedly killed an acquaintance, Vicky Cline, who was last spotted alive with him in downtown Oroville.
The 57-year-old woman’s car was destroyed in an arson fire that prosecutors say Blinston set, citing blood and DNA evidence found inside the torched car.
Cline’s body was later found by fisherman in the Feather River near Belden on June 21.
“Damage to her throat was consistent with the other victims,” prosecutors said.
A SWAT team seeking to serve an arrest warrant on Blinston in the arson case located him at an isolated motorhome in Brush Creek on June 14, authorities said.
The officers then heard “muffled screams” from inside the home, where Blinston was trying to hack his way out while using a hatchet, prosecutors said.
“The motorhome resident later told officers he was asleep in his bed when Blinston suddenly attacked him and cut his throat,” the statement continued.
The 50-year-old victim survived, prosecutors said.
Blinston tried to run off into the woods, but was quickly arrested and later charged with attempted murder. He had been jailed on that charge since June, Ramsey and Rogers said.
Blinston has pleaded not guilty to attempted murder in that case, the Associated Press reported.
Prosecutors said Blinston, who is set to be arraigned on the new charges Thursday afternoon, faces up to life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted. Authorities did not indicate a possible motive in the slayings.
California tree trimmer allegedly hacked throats of five people, killing three Wire Services/ New York Post.