From the Associated Press:
LOS ANGELES – Police believe a 72-year-old man charged with two cold-case murders is tied to two decades-old waves of Southern California serial killings and as many as 25 victims.
DNA matching former insurance adjuster John Floyd Thomas Jr. was found at five crime scenes spanning the killing-and-rape rampages in west Los Angeles in the 1970s and Claremont in the 1980s, said LAPD Robbery-Homicide Cold Case Detective Richard Bengston.
“When all is said and done, Mr. Thomas stands to be Los Angeles’ most prolific serial killer,” Bengston told the Los Angeles Times.
Police planned to reveal details of the case at a Thursday news conference.
In the first wave of killings in Los Angeles in the mid-1970s, a man police dubbed “The Westside Rapist” entered the homes of elderly women who lived alone, raped them and choked them until they passed out or died. The 17 who were killed were found with pillows or blankets over their faces.
A decade later and 40 miles to the east, five elderly women in Claremont were found raped and killed, also with blankets or pillows over their faces.
Despite some 20 survivors of similar attacks, detectives said they didn’t solve either set of cases nor connect the two. They blamed conflicting descriptions from victims, lack of communication between agencies and a past absence of DNA technology.
LA Times map of Westside crime spree.
*LAPD press release on the jump
Cold Case Serial Killer Arrested–NA09111kr
Thursday, April 30, 2009
150 North Los Angeles Street
Los Angeles 90012
LAPD Chief of Police William Bratton
Councilmember Jack Weiss, District 5 (Tentative)
Councilmember Bill Rosendahl, District 11
Councilmember Herb Wesson, District 10 (Tentative)
LAPD Deputy Chief Charlie Beck
LAPD Captain Dennis Cremins
LAPD Robbery Homicide Cold Case Detectives
(Richard Bengstan, Rick Jackson)
LAPD Southwest Registration Enforcement and Compliance Team Officers
Inglewood Captain Eve Irvine
Inglewood Homicide Detectives and Grandson of one victim
To announce the identity and arrest of a suspect who has been linked by DNA evidence to two LAPD cold case murders and three others in Inglewood and the County of Los Angeles. Detectives believe that this suspect could be linked to as many as 25 other unsolved murder cases and numerous sexual assault cases.