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Man arrested in 25-year-old rape, murder of California woman

By Madeleine Thomas

(Reuters) - More than 25 years after a woman was found sexually assaulted and slain in a ravine in Northern California, authorities have arrested a man in her murder.

In March 1989, the body of 27-year-old Sheila Lorraine was found by two hikers in a ravine on San Bruno Mountain in the San Francisco Bay Area, according to the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office.

Although investigators determined that she had been sexually assaulted and had suffered blunt force trauma, police were never able to identify a suspect, leaving the case unsolved for more than two decades.

Last year, at the request of the victim's family, the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office reopened the case, Deputy Rebecca Rosenblatt said, and began re-examining case files, photographs and physical evidence for leads with the help of the county's coroners office and forensic laboratory.

That investigation turned up forensic links to Gabriel O'Neill, a 45-year-old known sex offender living in Brisbane near San Bruno Mountain, Rosenblatt said. He was arrested on murder charges on Monday.

Authorities are not yet looking into whether O'Neill is connected with any other sexual assaults or disappearances in the area, Rosenblatt said.

"When it came to the point that information started to come together to direct our attention to the individual we have in custody, it was shortly thereafter that we were able to arrest him," she said. "The investigative process took a little while, but once everything came together, it came together pretty fast."

(Reporting by Madeleine Thomas; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Sandra Maler)

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