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Witness says Thompson told her of killings

A woman who was kidnapped by Robert Thompson in 1986 said he admitted to her that he killed two girls -- less than two weeks after the bodies of two Atwater teens were found dead off a rural Merced County road.

Also, another witness in Thompson's double homicide trial became the second to testify about possibly seeing blood in Thompson's bedroom not long after the Dec. 13, 1986, deaths of 12-year-old Jodi Ragsdale and 15-year-old Sheila Carter.

The first woman, who was 26 years old 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 orchard 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 (saying) '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 car wash 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 was eventually arrested for 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 -- seven of which he served.

Under cross-examination, defense attorney Randy Thomas asked the woman why she did not initially bring up the alleged admission by Thompson that he had killed two girls to investigators immediately after her kidnapping. "It never came up in the questioning," the woman said. "It slipped my mind."

Thompson is accused of bludgeoning Ragsdale and Carter to death with a car jack. He was taken into custody on Aug. 18, 2006, after investigators found Carter's DNA on a car jack that was found inside of a car that allegedly belonged to Thompson.

Pearlie Boyd, a witness who knew Becky Tilton in 1986, 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."

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.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Dave Moranda asked Boyd about whether she had told Merced County sheriff's 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 told Thomas under cross-examination that Tilton appeared to be high on drugs, "tweaking" and paranoid when she told her about the blood. She also told Thomas under cross-examination that "there was no way to positively know" that that stains were blood.

Arguments in Thompson's case are scheduled to continue throughout next week. If convicted, he could spend life in prison without parole.

Reporter Victor A. Patton can be reached at 209 385-2431 or vpatton@mercedsun-star.com.

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