Suspects jailed in series of Oklahoma shootings

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TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Police backed by a helicopter arrested two men early Sunday and said they would face murder charges in the recent shootings that terrorized Tulsa’s black community and left three people dead and two others critically wounded.

Police spokesman Jason Willingham said the two men were arrested at a home just north of Tulsa about 2 a.m. Sunday and were expected to be charged with three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of shooting with intent to kill in the spate of shootings early Friday. He said police made the arrests after receiving an anonymous tip.

While police identified the men as white and all the victims are black, authorities have not described the shootings as racially motivated and declined to discuss that issue Sunday.

Community leaders, however, expressed concern about the motivation for the shootings on Tulsa’s predominantly black north side, as well as the possibility that they would provoke a vigilante response. The Rev. Warren Blakney Sr., president of the Tulsa NAACP, said Sunday that word of the arrests had provided a great sense of relief.

“The community once again can go about its business without fear of there being a shooter on the streets on today, on Easter morning,” he said.

FULL STORY from the Associated Press

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Illinois serial killer charged with California slayings

SANTA ANA — A former Marine convicted of killing three women in Illinois pleaded not guilty Friday to murdering five more women in California.
Andrew Urdiales entered the plea in Superior Court in Santa Ana, said Farrah Emami, a spokeswoman for the Orange County district attorney’s office.
Authorities allege Urdiales killed five women in Orange, Riverside and San Diego counties between 1986 and 1995. Many of his victims were prostitutes who were repeatedly stabbed or shot.
Urdiales was convicted in 2002 of two murders in Illinois and a third in 2004 and sentenced to death. Two of those sentences were commuted to life without the possibility of parole in 2002 by then-Gov. George Ryan. When Illinois banned the death penalty, Urdiales’ third sentence also was commuted to life without the possibility of parole.
Last year, Urdiales was extradited to Orange County, where prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
Messages were left Friday for defense attorneys Lewis Clapp and Constance Istratescu.
Orange County prosecutors say Urdiales began a killing spree soon after moving to Southern California in 1984 as a 19-year-old Marine. He murdered four women while in the military and a fifth while vacationing in Palm Springs in 1995, four years after his discharge, prosecutors allege.
The cases went unsolved for more than a decade until Urdiales was arrested after his return to his native Illinois and confessed there to the California killings, prosecutors said.
Urdiales is being held without bail. His next court hearing is Feb. 10.
– From the Associated Press
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Serial slasher sought in Orange County

ANAHEIM — Anaheim’s police chief says last month’s slayings of three homeless men were likely the work of a serial killer.
Police Chief John Welter told a news conference Wednesday that authorities believe one person
is responsible for the stabbing deaths, which occurred between Dec. 20 and Dec. 30.
In each case, a middle-aged man was targeted.
Police reportedly obtained a picture of the murder suspect approaching one of his victims.
The killer was wearing a dark hoodie or sweater and that authorities believe he has a four-door Toyota automobile, according to a newspaper.
Police have circulated flyers in homeless camps throughout Orange County, warning people not to camp in dark, secluded areas.
– From the Associated Press
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Blood vial may link Ted Bundy to additional killings

From the Associated Press:

MIAMI — A vial of Ted Bundy’s blood has been found in Florida and investigators will use the newly discovered evidence to try to solve cases that went cold decades ago.
Before he was executed in 1989, Bundy confessed to more than 30 murders and was suspected of many more. A complete DNA profile couldn’t be developed for the serial killer until the blood was found. The full profile will be uploaded to the FBI’s national database Friday, giving authorities key evidence to possibly link Bundy to long-unsolved crimes.
The vial was discovered after Florida authorities received a call from a detective working a cold case in Tacoma, Wash. The blood had been taken in 1978 when Bundy was arrested in the death of a 12-year-old girl in Columbia County, Fla., The News Tribune in Tacoma reported.
Despite an order to destroy much of the biological evidence in the Florida case, the vial was still on file, said David Coffman, chief of forensic services at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Tallahassee crime lab.
“We were really surprised,” he said.
Coffman cautioned that it will be a challenge to find full DNA samples from so long ago, making a match unlikely. But if there is a match, authorities will know right away.
The Tacoma detective was investigating the 1961 disappearance of Ann Marie Burr, a 6-year-old who vanished from her home in the middle of the night. Bundy is among several possible suspects.
The Tacoma detective said they had letters Bundy had sent that might contain his DNA on the stamps or envelop and could be used to develop a forensic profile, and possibly discover if he was linked to the Burr case.
Coffman said the agency said it had some items to examine, too. There was a display case with evidence from Bundy’s trial in their lab. Among the items: dental molds of Bundy’s teeth and the wax impressions that had been used to make them.
“After hanging up with her, I went back to our display and looked at it,” Coffman recalled. “I said, ‘There’s got to be something. DNA’s gotten so sensitive now.'”
He decided to try the molds for traces of saliva, but there were a number of fingerprints on them, so it wasn’t a great sample. At about the same time, the
Florida agency discovered the Columbia County clerk’s office had an original blood sample taken from Bundy. It resulted in a complete forensic profile, with all 13 core markers used in tests against the DNA database.
A bulletin will be sent to law enforcement agencies across the country when the DNA is uploaded. Tacoma police are among those waiting. Detectives there are sending evidence to the state crime lab to see if there is still DNA on it 50 years later.
Bundy sexually assaulted and killed several young women in Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Utah and Florida between 1974 and 1978. He was sentenced to death in 1979 for the murder of two Florida college students and later for the rape and murder of the 12-year-old girl in Columbia County.

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74-year-old So Cal serial killer pleads guilty

From the Associated Press:
LOS ANGELES — A former state insurance adjuster pleaded guilty Friday to killing seven women and was sentenced
to life in prison for a series of deadly sexual attacks by a man known by police as the “Westside Rapist.”
John Floyd Thomas, 74, pleaded guilty to seven counts of first-degree murder and was sentenced to seven life terms, including one without the possibility of parole in the attacks that terrified Los Angeles County in the 1970s and 1980s, Los Angeles County district attorney’s spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said.
Some of the murders included special allegations that the crimes were committed during the commission of burglary or rape.
A call to Thomas’ court-appointed public defender, Alan Gelfand, was not immediately returned.
Based on cold-case DNA testing, Thomas was arrested in March 2009 and charged in the “Westside Rapist” case in which a man entered the homes of middle-aged and elderly women who lived alone, raped them and choked them until they passed out or died.
Although he was charged with seven murders, investigators have said they believe he may have killed as many as 30 women and raped many more.
The attacks stopped in 1978 — the year Thomas went to prison for the rape of a Pasadena woman — but authorities say they resumed a decade later in the eastern county.
Thomas initially was charged with the 1972 murder of Ethel Sokoloff, 68, at her home in the Mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles and the 1976 murder of Elizabeth McKeown, 67, in the Westchester area.
Sokoloff, a retired school administrator, was found semi-nude and dead inside the trunk of her car two blocks from her apartment.
Thomas later was charged killing Cora Perry, 79, in the unincorporated Lennox area in 1975 and with the 1976 Inglewood killings of Maybelle Hudson, 80, Miriam McKinley, 65, and Evalyn Bunner, 56.
He also was charged with killing 56-year-old Adrienne Askew in 1986 in Claremont, about 40 miles east of Los
Angeles. At the time of that killing, Thomas was living in Chino, a community only a few miles away.
The killings again appeared to stop in 1989, when Thomas took a job with the state workers compensation insurance agency in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale.
Thomas has a criminal history that included a 1978 rape conviction and a nearly decade-long prison term for burglary, attempted burglary and subsequent parole violations that kept him locked up until 1966.
As a registered sex offender, he was required to check in annually with police. During one visit in the fall of 2008, officers took a saliva swab to collect his DNA, which is a requirement for all sex offenders.
Cold-case investigators later used the swab to link Thomas to the killings.
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“Grim Sleeper” serial killer suspect arraigned

Statement from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office:

LOS ANGELES – Lonnie David Franklin Jr., the alleged “Grim Sleeper” serial killer accused of murdering 10 victims over a more than 20-year span, was arraigned today on an indictment charging him with the killings.

“The indictment in the ‘Grim Sleeper’ case that was unsealed today in the Superior Court was necessitated by a desire to move this significant murder case forward to trial,” said District Attorney Steve Cooley in a written statement.

“The families of the victims should be accorded timely resolution of the allegations of the murders of their loved ones,” the District Attorney added.

Franklin, 58, was charged in July of last year with 10 counts of murder with the special circumstance allegation of multiple murders. He also was charged with one count of attempted “willful, deliberate and premeditated murder” in the case of an 11th victim who survived. The indictment contains the same charges.

Although the case was filed nearly a year ago, there never was a date scheduled for a preliminary hearing of the evidence, which would have been the next stage of the proceedings. At a preliminary hearing, a judge determines if there is sufficient evidence for a felony defendant to stand trial.

The indictment returned Wednesday afternoon by the Los Angeles County Grand Jury following a little more than six-day hearing supersedes the criminal complaint and moves the case directly to trial.

Franklin is accused of killing his victims – girls and women ranging in age from 14 to 36 – between August 1985 and January 2007. Most of the victims were discovered dumped in alleys and covered with debris. They were shot to death and/or strangled.

The charges make Franklin eligible for the death penalty, but the District Attorney’s office has not made a final decision on whether death or life without parole will be sought against the defendant.

Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman of the Major Crimes Division and Deputy District Attorney Marguerite Rizzo of the Family Violence Division are prosecuting the case.

Franklin was arrested by Los Angeles Police Department Robbery-Homicide detectives after a lengthy task force investigation.

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Los Angeles serial killer charged with four additional murders

Written statement from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office:

LOS ANGELES – Convicted serial killer Chester Dewayne Turner, who was sentenced to death in 2007 for the murders of 10 women and an unborn child over a 10-year period, was charged today with four additional murders in the 1980’s and ’90’s.

Turner, who is on death row, will be returned from state prison to face the new capital murder case, said Deputy District Attorney Bobby Grace, who prosecuted Turner four years ago. His arraignment date will be announced later.

Turner, 44 (dob 11-5-66), is charged with the June 5, 1987 murder of Elandra Bunn; the Feb. 22, 1997 murder of Cynthia Annette Johnson; the Dec. 16, 1992 murder of Mary Edwards; and the Nov. 16, 1992 murder of Debra Williams. The complaint alleges the special circumstances of murder during commission of attempted rape. Prosecutors will decide later whether to seek the death penalty for a second time against the convicted serial killer.

After Turner was convicted and sentenced to death in May 2007, Los Angeles police detectives from the Robbery Homicide Division continued to investigate the four unsolved murders in which Turner was identified as a suspect.

The four victims in the new case were found strangled to death, similar to the 10 earlier victims. All the victims were killed in South Los Angeles in the area know as the Figueroa Corridor.

In two of the murders, two other men were originally charged. David Allen Jones was convicted of the 1992 murder of Mary Edwards. After further DNA testing excluded Jones, the District Attorney’s office asked the court to set aside that conviction. Jones was freed from prison in 2004.

Another man was charged with the 1997 murder of Cynthia Johnson. That case was later dismissed after DNA evidence excluded that suspect and identified Turner.

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“Grim Sleeper” may not have “slept” at all: officials investigate suspect in connection with new cases

It turns out the “Grim Sleeper” serial killer suspect may not have taken a break from his alleged crimes during the 1990s, as previously thought by investigators. More recent revelations indicate he may have continued killing — at least two other women — during that time. The Associated Press has the story:
LOS ANGELES — Perhaps the “Grim Sleeper” never took a break after all.
Police on Thursday were investigating two additional homicides that could be tied to Lonnie Franklin Jr., a mechanic who already has been charged with killing 10 women from 1985 to 1988 and from 2002 to 2007.
The 14-year pause led to the nickname “Grim Sleeper.”
Detective Dennis Kilcoyne said Franklin might also be responsible for the deaths of two women whose bodies were found in South Los Angeles in the 1990s. No charges have been filed in those cases. “I don’t think there is a gap,” Kilcoyne said. “He was here, he was active. I don’t think you stop one day, take a 14-year vacation and then start up again.”
Kilcoyne released few details about the additional cases but said the bodies were found in the same general area as other victims. He would not say if there was DNA evidence tying Franklin to the two women, as was the case in several of the deaths that led to charges.
Most of the victims linked to the “Grim Sleeper” were found in alleyways within a few miles of Franklin’s mint-green stucco home a few miles south of downtown Los Angeles. Those victims were shot, strangled or both, usually after some kind of sexual contact. Several were prostitutes.
Detectives were led to Franklin after his son was arrested on an unrelated matter and swabbed for DNA. Using a controversial technique known as a familial DNA search, the sample came back as similar to evidence in the serial killings, leading police to investigate relatives of the man who was arrested.
Franklin has pleaded not guilty. A call to his attorney Louisa Pensanti was not immediately returned.
After Franklin’s arrest in July, detectives spent days searching his house and garage for evidence. They seized a stash of hundreds of photographs and hours of home videotape of women, many of whom were engaged in sexually explicit behavior.
Learing there may be additional victims, detectives released images of dozens of the women and asked for the public’s help identifying them.
Kilcoyne said 72 women in the pictures have been identified and ruled out as victims, and four new missing person cases have been opened involving people in the photos. Women in 62 pictures have yet to be identified.
The women in the two additional homicide cases were not depicted in the photos, Kilcoyne said.
The initial killings occurred during a time of extreme violence in parts of Los Angeles, when many young women were falling prey to crack cocaine and other drug addictions.
As many as 30 detectives investigated the slayings in the 1980s but exhausted leads within a few years.
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Remains of another possible victim of the Green River serial killer found

From the Associated Press:
SEATTLE — Children playing in a ravine south of Seattle this week found the skull of a young mother who vanished nearly three decades ago and has long been thought to be a victim of Green River serial killer Gary Ridgway.
he King County Sheriff’s Office announced Thursday that dental records identified the remains as those of 20-year-old Rebecca “Becky” Marrero, who was last seen Dec. 3, 1982, as she left a motel room on Pacific Highway South.
reen River killer Gary Ridgway was arrested in 2001 after DNA tests linked him to some of dozens of unsolved killings dating to the early 1980s. He pleaded guilty two years later to murdering 48 women, most of them runaways, prostitutes and drug addicts in a deal that spared him from the death penalty.
arrero, who had a 3-year-old daughter, was believed to be one of Ridgway’s early victims. But he was never charged in her case because her body wasn’t found and because Ridgway couldn’t provide investigators with enough information about her to prove he killed her.
arrero’s skull was found Tuesday in a ravine in Auburn, about 25 miles south of Seattle. It was the same area where the remains of another Ridgway victim, Marie Malvar, were found in September 2003.
t wasn’t immediately clear if the King County Prosecutor’s Office planned to charge Ridgway in Marrero’s death.
With the discovery of Ms. Marrero’s remains detectives and prosecutors will now review the investigation into her disappearance and death,” the office said in a written statement. “Investigators will examine all aspects of the case including any potential involvement of Ridgway.”
ne of Ridgway’s attorneys, Mark Prothero, was out of the office Thursday and couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
rothero wrote in his book on the case, “Defending Gary,” that during extensive interviews Ridgway had “never been able to give the detectives anything useful on the Rebecca Marrero case.”
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Former Monterey Park man suspected in serial slayings on trial

This story of a suspected serial killer with roots in Monterey Park comes from Associated Press Staff Writer Gillian Flaccys:

SANTA ANA — A serial murder suspect and former Monterey Park resident accused of five slayings in the late 1970s acknowledged Wednesday that he planned to leave California in the weeks following the youngest victim’s death and lied to his employer and friends about where he was going.
Rodney James Alcala, 66, is charged with five counts of first-degree murder in the slayings of four Los Angeles County women and a 12-year-old Orange County girl between 1977 and 1979.
Prosecutors say he raped, tortured and robbed some of the women before killing them. He could face the death penalty if convicted.
Alcala, a photographer and UCLA graduate, has pleaded not guilty to all charges and is representing himself in the case.
Prosecutors began cross-examining Alcala on Wednesday after he wrapped up his defense a day earlier by showing a video of himself on a 1978 episode of “The Dating Game.” Alcala claims the video proves his innocence in the murder of one of the alleged victims, 12-year-old Robin Samsoe.
Samsoe disappeared on June 20, 1979, while riding a friend’s bike to ballet class in Huntington Beach in Orange County. Her body was found 12 days later, but investigators couldn’t determine the cause of death or if she had been sexually assaulted because of the condition of the remains.
Alcala says the game show clip proves that nearly a year before Samsoe’s death, he owned a pair of earrings prosecutors used to tie him to her.
Orange County prosecutor Matt Murphy questioned Alcala Wednesday about why he moved his belongings to Seattle after Samsoe’s murder and why he lied to his friends about where he was going.
Alcala said he quit his job typing classified ads for the Los Angeles Times and told them he was moving to Fremont. He told family and friends he was moving, too, but named four different locations, including Hawaii, New Mexico, Dallas and Chicago.
“Isn’t it true that you were telling people you were going to different places because you were going on the lam and you didn’t want them to be able to tell police where you were?” Murphy asked.
“I was thinking about going on the lam,” Alcala replied, adding that he intended to go to Chicago
for a photography conference and return to Los Angeles. He was arrested on July 24, 1979.
Earlier, Murphy asked Alcala why he “radically changed” his hairstyle several days after Samsoe disappeared.
Alcala had his naturally curly, shoulder-length hair straightened three days after the murder and then cut short several days later. Prosecutors have argued that he made the changes so he would not be recognized after a police sketch was published on TV and in newspapers.
Alcala acknowledged the changes, but said they were not radical and were not related to the murder.
Murphy also questioned Alcala about his conversation with a 15-year-old girl he photographed near the beach on the day Samsoe disappeared. Alcala told the girl, who was wearing a blue bikini and roller skates, that he was taking pictures for a contest.
Witnesses have testified that they later saw Alcala talking to Samsoe and her friend and trying to take their pictures as well, which Alcala denies.
Alcala has been sentenced to death twice for Samsoe’s slaying, but both convictions were overturned.
This case is the first to try Alcala in the deaths of four Los Angeles County women between 1977 and 1979. Prosecutors allege DNA testing and forensic evidence in 2005 linked him to those cases.
Also murdered were Jill Barcomb, 18, who had just moved to Los Angeles from Oneida, N.Y.; Georgia Wixted, 27, of Malibu; Charlotte Lamb, 32, of Santa Monica; and Jill Parenteau, 21, of Burbank.
During the trial, Alcala has focused almost entirely on Samsoe and did not testify about the other allegations when he took the stand.
The judge halted proceedings midmorning Wednesday because of a power outage.

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