Twenty years ago this month, the first of what would be two college students went missing. The only trace was some blood on the Jennifer Street bridge in San Luis Obispo. Eventually, investigators would find the man responsible for raping and murdering the two young women. While he sits on death row, investigators look back at the case.
See Canyon just south of San Luis Obispo has always been quiet and secluded.
Unfortunately, it served as the perfect location for parolee Rex Krebs to carry out the rape and murder of two local college students.
Rachel Newhouse, a Cal Poly student, was reported missing in November of 1998 and investigators were worried after finding some blood on the Jennifer Street bridge near where she lived. Looking back, one of the lead investigators says it was a team effort that eventually brought the case to a close.
“In this particular case, the San Luis Obispo Police Department was able to work very effectively with investigators from the district attorney’s office, the sheriff’s office and the FBI was even called in to provide manpower,” said Larry Hobson.
Four months later, before they could narrow in on a suspect, another woman went missing, this time a Cuesta College student named Aundria Crawford.
During a press conference in 1999, then-San Luis Obispo Police Captain Bart Topham said, “Late yesterday afternoon, a second adult female body was recovered in the Davis Canyon search area. Within just the past few minutes, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff-Coroner confirmed the identities of the bodies as those of Rachel Newhouse and Aundria Crawford.”
The entire community was frightened. A month after Aundria was found, Rex Allen Krebs was arrested for a parole violation; he had a gun in his car and his parole officer had a hunch. Hobson recalls spending hours with Krebs building rapport.
“Once I confronted him with the blood evidence, he eventually confessed to kidnapping, raping and killing both Rachel and Aundria,” Hobson said.
The police chief at the time, Jim Gardiner, held a press conference in April later that year. “Today I can confirm that we have identified Rex Allen Krebs as the person responsible for the abduction and the murders of Rachel Newhouse and Aundria Crawford,” Gardiner announced.
It’s a story that still has the community talking; two girls picked at random and stalked until they made one little mistake. Rachel Newhouse was walking home alone after an evening downtown with friends and Aundria Crawford left a small bathroom window open for fresh air. That’s all the predator needed to pounce.
“Just remember, there’s no place or anywhere else where you shouldn’t be locking your doors and your windows and your cars. Because there are people out there that are going to take advantage of what you do or do not do. And if you don’t lock them, you could be a victim,” Hobson said.