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Death penalty wanted for suspect in 1988 cold case

March 09, 2009

Prosecutors will seek the death penalty against a Michigan convict who they say has been linked to the rape and murder of a pregnant Costa Mesa woman in 1988 through DNA evidence.

Jason Balcom, 38, was serving a 30- to 50-year prison sentence in Michigan for rape and kidnapping when in 2004 DNA evidence linked him to a cold murder case in Costa Mesa, officials said.

Prosecutors said on July 18, 1988, Balcom attacked a pregnant Malinda Gibbons in her home as she unpacked (she and her husband had moved to Costa Mesa from Utah two days earlier). Balcom gagged Gibbons, bound her hands and feet with her husband’s ties, then raped and sodomized her and stabbed her in the chest before stealing her wedding ring and leaving, authorities said.

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Police said Gibbons’ husband, Kent, found her when he came home from work later that day.

Balcom was working as a security guard at a department store on Harbor Boulevard and was living in a motel only a quarter-mile away from the couple.

Shortly after police linked Balcom to the crime, they said he had been implicated in two similar crimes shortly after. Authorities said Balcom robbed and sexually assaulted a woman in Santa Ana six days after the Gibbons slaying then moved to Michigan where he was convicted of kidnapping and sexually assaulting a woman there.

— Joseph Serna


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