ames Steven Jobe was identified on June 9, 2021 as the lead suspect in the August 17, 1991 murder of 35-year-old Sarah Kate Hutchings in Santa Rosa, California.
Hutchings worked as a hostess at the Korbel Winery. She left work at 9 pm on August 16 to go on a date at Lyon’s Restaurant. When she did not come in to work the next day, one of her friends from the winery went to her home to check on her. The police found her dead in her bathtub. Since she had a heart condition, the coroner initially ruled that she had died of natural causes. The crime scene was not properly preserved.
Two days later, an autopsy determined that she had been sexually assaulted and strangled with a length of fabric. A bloodstain on her bed indicated that she may have been strangled face down on the bed while her hands were bound. She was then placed in her bathtub and drowned.
The FGG investigation was conducted by Parabon Nanolabs in partnership with the Santa Rosa Police Department. A DNA profile of the suspect was obtained from semen taken from Hutchings’ body. The final confirmation was made to blood obtained at Jobe’s autopsy after he died from a drug overdose in 2001.
This is reported to have been one of the longest-running and most costly murder investigations in the history of the Santa Rosa PD, and one that led to the wrongful prosecution of Mark Robert Marsh.
Early in the investigation, police developed tunnel vision against Marsh, who had briefly dated Hutchings. Witnesses identified him as the man dining with Hutchins at Lyon’s the evening she was killed. Marsh was arrested in 1993. A court dismissed the charges against him two months later. This led to the discipline of the officer in charge of the case for not taping interviews. In June of 1994, DNA testing was performed on semen found on Hutchings’ bedspread. The results cleared Marsh in March of 1995.
Marsh sued the city for civil rights violations, but the Press Democrat reported that “he eventually gave up his court fight, saying he was broke and too tired to continue fighting the police.” His legal bills amounted to about $120,000 and he was forced to declare bankruptcy.
Korbel paid for a private investigation into the murder, but with no results. Hutchings’ own family then spent thousands of dollars to continue the private investigation, but no new leads were produced.
Jobe is reported to have had police contact for domestic violence cases, but there is no indication that he had a criminal record. Police state that they will continue to investigate before they declare the case to be cleared.
Murder Victims. “What Really Happened to Sarah Kate Hutchings?” Murdervictims.com, n.d. Accessed April 28, 2023. https://murdervictims.com/case/sarah-hutchings/.
Chavez, Nashelly. “It’s One of Santa Rosa’s Most-Critiqued Murder Investigations. Genetic Genealogy Tracing Might Help Solve It.” The Press Democrat, June 9, 2021. Accessed April 28, 2023. https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/news/its-one-of-santa-rosas-most-critiqued-murder-investigations-genetic-gene/.
Rossmann, Randi. “Worst-Case Scenario: The Unsolved Murder of Sarah Hutchings.” The Press Democrat, January 31, 1999. Last modified November 26, 2006. Accessed April 28, 2023. https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/news/worst-case-scenario-the-unsolved-murder-of-sarah-hutchings/.