Crime - Sacto 911

Butte County Sheriff’s detectives arrest Stockton man on suspicion of girlfriend’s decades-old slaying

When Tracy Sue Zandstra, 29, from Sterling City, disappeared on Nov. 15, 1991, officers we told she’d left her children home with her boyfriend, Richard Pyle. Three decades later Pyle stood trial for her murder.
When Tracy Sue Zandstra, 29, from Sterling City, disappeared on Nov. 15, 1991, officers we told she’d left her children home with her boyfriend, Richard Pyle. Three decades later Pyle stood trial for her murder. Butte County Sheriff's Office

Butte County Sheriff’s deputies said Monday they arrested a man believed to be a killer in the nearly three-decade-old murder of Tracy Sue Zandstra.

Zandstra was 29 when she was brutally killed in December 1991, The Sacramento Bee reported at the time.

On Monday, Sheriff’s officials said they arrested her then-boyfriend Richard Pyle, 55, on suspicion of killing her. Officials say that Zandstra, whose body was never found, was living with Pyle at the time.

“I am proud of the persistent determination of the many detectives and investigators who have worked throughout the years to bring justice to Tracy and closure to her family,” Sheriff Kory Honea said in a news release.

Deputies told The Bee in 1991 that she’d left her home in Sterling City around 2:30 a.m. on November 15, leaving her two children in the custody of Pyle.

Over the years, detectives located evidence of her slaying and other materials that showed her that body had been disposed of, according to the news release.

The Sheriff’s detectives worked with Butte County’s District Attorney’s Office to obtain an arrest warrant for Pyle, although he was listed as transient and could not be immediately located, the release said.

Pyle was found and arrested in Stockton on Aug. 15, according to the release. He was booked in the Butte County Jail and is being held in lieu of a $1 million bond.

He was arraigned in Butte County Superior Court Monday for Zandstra’s murder with an enhancement for using a firearm in commission of the crime. Pyle has two strikes for prior felony convictions, court records show, meaning he could be sentenced to at least 25 years to life if convicted.

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