Reward set to help solve 1979 homicide

On the evening of Feb. 4, 1979, three men were shot, execution-style, during a robbery at the Payless Super Drug Store on Concar Drive in San Mateo and the case was never solved.

After almost three decades, Gov. Schwarzenegger is offering a $50,000 reward to help San Mateo police close the case.

The police and the victims’ families hope the governor’s reward, along with the support of a private donator, will lead to information about the slayings, the arrest and conviction of those responsible, and emotional closure.

“We never gave up and never plan to give up,” said San Mateo Police Lt. Mike Brunicardi, who remembers the triple homicide that occurred during his first year on the job. “But sometimes people need motivation.”

The victims — 23-year-old store manager Michael Olsen and his two teenage employees, William Baumgartner and Tracy Anderson — were locking up the store when someone shot them and fled with $30,000 in stolen cash and checks.

Olson, who lived in Fremont with his wife and 1-year-old daughter, had been promoted to manager four months before he was killed.

The police arrested a suspect, but the judge released him as there was not enough evidence. The suspect is said to have moved to Mexico.

“Something of that magnitude doesn’t happen often in San Mateo,” said Bertha Sanchez, former San Mateo planning commissioner, who remembers the 1979 murder. “This would be a shock to the community even today.”

The San Mateo case is the oldest of six unsolved California homicides that received reward money from the governor this year.

A press conference was to be held this morning at the San Mateo Police Station with some of the victims’ family members to announce the formation of a Web site and increased effort to find the killers.

svasilyuk@examiner.com

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