Serial killer charged with more slayings

This comes from the Associated Press:

LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles County grand jury has charged a convicted serial killer with three more murders.
Authorities Thursday said Michael Hughes was indicted last week on charges that he raped,
sodomized and strangled a 15-year-old girl, whose body was found in an Iglewood park in 1986. He has also been charged with killing two women in Los Angeles in 1986 and 1993.
One body was found in a school stairwell.
Authorities say Hughes, 53, was linked to the crimes by DNA evidence.
He pleaded not guilty to the new charges on Tuesday and could face the death penalty if
Hughes already is serving a life term without chance of parole for killing four women in 1992
and 1993.

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SGV serial killer admits to additional slayings

This comes from reporter Rod Leveque:

POMONA — A serial killer already on death row for the slayings of six women pleaded guilty on Friday to two additional murders.
Ivan J. Hill admitted to the 1986 and 1987 strangulations of Lorna Patricia Reed and Rhonda Rene Jackson. The convictions bring Hill’s known body-count to nine.
“You have left holes in lives that can never be closed,” Jackson’s mother, Jacqueline Shaheed told Hill during a hearing Friday in Pomona Superior Court. “You are an evil, evil person.”
Reed, 35, was found dead in an open field near Bonelli Park in San Dimas on Feb 11, 1986. She was partially clothed, and had a rope wrapped four times around her neck.
Jackson, 23, was found in a trash bin in a parking lot of Palomares Park in Pomona on Feb. 27, 1987. She was nude and appeared to have been strangled with her sweat pants.

27849-IVAN HILL-thumb-300x315.jpg

Hill, 48, roamed the eastern San Gabriel Valley in the 1980s and 1990s strangling women, mostly prostitutes, and dumping their bodies in public places such as parks and parking lots. Many of the bodies were found in cities along the 60 Freeway between Ontario and Industry, earning Hill the nickname of “60 Slayer.”
Investigators linked Hill to the killings through DNA more than a decade later.
In 2007, Hill was convicted and sentenced to death for strangling six women over a three-month span in 1993 and 1994.
Those were the murders of Roxanne Bates of Montclair, Betty Sue Harris of Pomona, Helen Ruth Hill of West Covina, Donna Goldsmith of Pomona, Cheryl Sayers of Ontario and Debra Brown of Los Angeles.
Prosecutors knew about the two additional murders at the time, but did not charge Hill with them because evidence was still being gathered.
It was only late last year, after Hill had already received the death penalty for the other crimes, that prosecutors brought the new charges.
“It was the right thing to do for the victims’ families,” Deputy District Attorney John Monaghan said.
Hill admitted on Friday to two counts of first-degree murder, along with a special circumstance of having a prior murder conviction.
After accepting Hill’s guilty plea on Friday, Judge Charles Horan sentenced Hill to an additional term of life in prison without possibility of parole.
Horan allowed relatives of the two victims to address Hill during the hearing.
Reed’s daughter, Tampatha Reed, calmly told the judge that no punishment was severe enough for Hill.
Shaheed grew angry as she spoke. She wished Hill a life of agony, and told him she resented that the public would have to pay to care for him in prison.
“It is unfair to us that we have to take care of your rotten soul,” she said. “I pray that your life is short.”
Monaghan said Hill is not a suspect in any additional murders.
Hill’s attorney, Jennifer Friedman, said Hill would appeal. Friedman declined to comment further immediately after the hearing.
Hill has a long rap sheet, which includes a 1979 murder conviction for his role in the shooting death of a Glendora liquor store clerk during a robbery.

Above: File photo of Ivan Hill

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The saga of John Floyd Thomas Jr. continues

Reporter Nathan McIntire writes:

John Floyd Thomas Jr., the alleged Westside Rapist, does not appear to match the descriptions of any suspects from decades-old cold cases but the Pasadena Police Department is reviewing DNA evidence just to be sure.

Thomas was arrested earlier this month in connection with two Los Angeles killings and is now a suspect in more than two dozen other open cases. He was arrested on suspicion of raping a 78-year-old Pasadena woman in 1978 but was later convicted of lesser charges.
Thomas’s DNA was found at a total of three other crime scenes in West Los Angeles in the 1970s and Claremont in the 1980s, according to authorities.

Pasadena Police compared Thomas’ description to several open rape and murder cases from the 1970s and 80s but he does not match the description of any suspects, Lt. John Dewar said.

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Details from LAPD’s John Floyd Thomas investigation begin to emerge

This from the LAPD


Los Angeles:  Los Angeles Police Department Robbery Homicide Detectives have announced the arrest of a 72-year-old man who has been positively linked to two LAPD Cold Case homicides.  The suspect, John Floyd Thomas Jr., is also linked by DNA evidence to murders being investigated by the Inglewood Police Department and Los County Sheriff’s Department. Additionally, he is suspected in as many as thirty murders and scores of rapes occurring in the Southland during the 1970’s and 1980’s.


During November 2001, under the guidance of Robbery-Homicide Division the Los Angeles Police Department created a Cold Case Homicide Unit.  Over the years, detectives assigned to this unit have been responsible for reviewing unsolved murder cases, assessing evidence from those cases, and identifying the potential for application of new forensic techniques, which includes, but is not limited to DNA testing. 


As part of the review process, detectives screened the unsolved murder of Ethel Sokoloff.  At the time of her tragic death in 1972, Sokoloff was 68 years old.  She was found in her home, beaten and strangled.  The apparent motive of the murder appeared to have been of a sexual nature.  The cold case detectives’ review of this case revealed that there was biological evidence within the victim’s Sexual Assault Evidence Kit, and that this evidence had never been analyzed for the presence of foreign DNA.  Subsequently, a request was made to Scientific Investigation Division.


Detectives also identified the unsolved murder of Elizabeth McKeown who was killed in 1976.  At the time of her death, McKeown was 67 years old.  A review of the investigative materials revealed that McKeown was attacked after parking her vehicle at her home.  She too had been brutally beaten and strangled.  Again, the apparent motive of this murder appeared to be of a sexual nature.  Similar to the Sokoloff case, it was believed that by using DNA analysis on the biological evidence obtained from within McKeown’s Sexual Assault Evidence Kit, it would potentially provide a direct lead to the suspect responsible for committing this senseless crime.  Detectives requested that Scientific Investigation Division examine the evidence for the presence of DNA.


A male DNA profile was developed in each of these independent cases and was uploaded into the California CODIS databank.  During 2004, a case-to-case DNA match was made linking the male DNA profile from the Sokoloff case to the male DNA profile identified in the McKeown murder.  Although the DNA profiles matched one another, the name of the offender was not identified in the database.


Between 2004 and 2009, cold case detectives worked diligently in an effort to identify this potential murder suspect.  While continuing their investigation, detectives frequently compared a potential suspects DNA profile to that recovered from the Sokoloff and McKeown sexual assault evidence kits.  Approximately 14 DNA profiles were compared and eliminated, they were not connected.


In September 2004, detectives were notified that DNA case-to-case matches had been made to three unsolved murders that occurred between 1976 and 1986 in the City of Inglewood and Los Angeles County. 


On March 27, 2009, the California Department of Justice notified the Los Angeles Police Department that a CODIS DNA match had been made and the killer identified in the murders of Ethel Sokoloff and Elizabeth McKeown, and the victims in the cases being investigated by the Inglewood Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.


The offender has been identified as John Floyd Thomas.  He is now 72 years old and a resident of Los Angeles.  A review of Thomas’s criminal history revealed that he was arrested a number of times between 1955 and 1978.  His criminal convictions consist of multiple burglaries, many of which involved sexual assaults of his victims.  Other than an arrest for prostitution in 1993, Thomas has not had any other known law enforcement contact during recent years.


On March 31, 2009, detectives from the Los Angeles Police Department arrested John Floyd Thomas for the murders of Ethel Sokoloff and Elizabeth McKeown, and his bail was set at one million dollars.


Cold Case detectives will focus on connecting Thomas to additional cases during those years when he was not in custody for other crimes.  Detectives will begin in the mid-1950s when his criminal history began in the Los Angeles area.  The review will likely include cases occurring through the decade of the 1980s.  During that approximate 35-year span, Thomas was in custody for a total of roughly twelve years.      


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Pasadena PD looks at possible cold case ties to John Floyd Thomas, Jr.

The Pasadena PD is examining the possibility that John Floyd Thomas, Jr. may be responsible for homicides there in the late 1970s, officials said Thursday.

Thomas, a onetime resident of Pasadena, was arrested there in the late 70s, officials said.

Thomas, the suspected “Westside Rapist” may be responsible for the deaths of as many as 25 elderly women in Los Angeles County in the 70s and 80s. An LAPD homicide detective dubbed him “prolific.”

We’ll have a story up later today. We’re also looking at Thomas’ connections in Pomona and Chino where he worked and lived, and his connection to at least on homicide in Claremont in 1986.


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John Floyd Thomas Jr: “Los Angeles’ most prolific serial killer” *

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

Continue reading “John Floyd Thomas Jr: “Los Angeles’ most prolific serial killer” *” »

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