MERCED -- A woman who was kidnapped at knife-point by Robert Thompson in 1986 said he admitted to her that he killed two girls. The admission came less than two weeks after the bodies of 12-year-old Jodi Ragsdale and 15-year-old Sheila Carter were found dead off a rural Merced County road.
Another witness in Thompson's double homicide trial also testified about possibly seeing blood in Thompson's bedroom not long after the Atwater girls' deaths.
The woman, who was 26 at the time of her abduction, glanced at Thompson several times during her testimony, but was calm, her voice unwavering. She recounted how Thompson, now 42, kidnapped her at knife-point from Atwater in a black Chevrolet Monte Carlo. She said Thompson drove her to an almond field in Le Grand, telling her that he would kill her if she said anything.
After arriving at the orchard, the woman said she sat in the car with Thompson, trying to talk him out of harming her. "I was trying to talk him into being friends and 'don't hurt me' -- and he told me that he had just put away two girls," she said.
The woman said Thompson then walked with her to a barn and told her to remove her clothes and lie down, which she did. "I didn't want him to hurt me or anything," she said.
After she took off her clothes, Thompson, according to the woman, said, "This is stupid. Get dressed." She said he then drove her to Merced, dropping her off at a carwash on G Street. Thompson told her not to tell anyone what happened -- but she remembered the license plate of the car he was driving and alerted law enforcement, she said.
Thompson eventually was arrested in connection with the crime, and the woman picked him out of a police lineup. He was sentenced in 1987 to 14 years in prison for the kidnapping. He served seven.
Under cross-examination, defense attorney Randy Thomas asked the woman why she did not bring up the alleged admission to investigators right after her kidnapping. "It never came up in the questioning," the woman said. "It slipped my mind."
Thompson is accused of beating the two girls to death with a car jack. He was arrested in August 2006 after investigators said they found the 15-year-old Sheila's DNA on a car jack that was found in a car that they say belonged to Thompson.
A witness who knew Thompson's former girlfriend, Becky Tilton, testified Thursday that Tilton had visited her around the time of the killings, saying there was "blood on the window sills and blood in the bedroom" of the mobile home and that Thompson "had come through the window bloody."
Pearlie Boyd, 51, acknowledged that her memories of that time are extremely hazy because she was addicted to heroin and other illegal drugs. "You have to realize, at that time I was wasted," Boyd said.
Merced County Deputy District Attorney Dave Moranda asked Boyd whether she told investigators, during taped interviews in the wake of the killings, about seeing blood in the bedroom. "I guess I did. If it says I did, I did," she said.
Under cross-examination, Thomas asked Boyd, who was previously incarcerated at California Correctional Facility for Women in Chowchilla, if she had given her testimony to investigators in exchange for benefits. "Absolutely not. There was nothing I could get," she said.
Boyd also said Tilton appeared to be high on drugs, "tweaking" and paranoid when she told her about the blood. She told Thomas that "there was no way to positively know" that the stains were blood.
Testimony is expected to continue throughout next week.
If convicted, Thompson could spend life in prison without parole.