Tree Trimmer Charged For Allegedly Slashing Throats Of Clients In Killing Spree

Butte County District Attorney’s Office

Marlo Safi Culture Reporter
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A man who worked as a tree trimmer in California was charged with three murders and attempted murder after allegedly slashing the throats of four people, including multiple clients of his, the Butte County District Attorney announced Thursday.

Ryan Scott Blinston, 37, was charged with murdering three people, attempted murder and arson, according to a statement from District Attorney Michael Ramsey. 

Prosecutors say Blinston was working as a tree trimmer in Butte County, located in Northern California, when he went with the rest of his crew to the Los Molinos home where 88-year-old Loreen Severs and her husband, 91-year-old Homer Severs. Blinston allegedly returned on May 23, 2020, nearly a week later, to the couple’s home, forced entry and cut both of the victims’ throats.

Loreen was killed and her husband survived but later died of an unrelated illness, according to the district attorney. (RELATED: Golden State Killer Pleads Guilty To Murders From 70s And 80s, Avoids Death Penalty)

On June 4, Blinston allegedly went into a client’s home in Oroville after finishing work and slashed 82-year-old Sandra George’s throat, according to the statement. 

He also allegedly killed an acquaintance of his, 57-year-old Vicky Cline, who officials say was last seen alive with Blinston on June 6. 

Investigators said blood and DNA evidence found in Blinston’s car was traced back to Cline, whose body was discovered by a fisherman in a river on June 21 with a slashed throat. Blinston also allegedly torched Cline’s car the night she was last seen alive, according to the district attorney.

A week before Cline’s body was discovered, investigators were allegedly serving an arrest warrant at a motorhome where they suspected Blinston was living with a 50-year-old man. Authorities were planning to arrest Blinston for allegedly burning Cline’s car.

As deputies “stealthily” approached the motorhome in the wooded area, they reportedly heard screams from inside the home and “loud banging” from the outside of the home.

“The banging turned out to be Blinston attempting to get into the motorhome with a hatchet,” the district attorneys’ statement said. “The motorhome resident later told officers he was asleep in his bed when Blinston suddenly attacked him and cut his throat.”

The man allegedly kicked Blinston out of the motorhome and locked the door. As the SWAT team arrived, Blinston was trying to get back in the home, but fled into the wood when he saw them. The SWAT team captured Blinston and the man inside the motorhome was flown by helicopter to a hospital for treatment, according to the district attorney. 

The man survived and Blinston was charged with attempted murder. Blinston was already in jail for the attempted murder, but was charged Thursday with the three other murders and another attempted murder, according to the statement.