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.

The Westside Rapist and suspect John Floyd Thomas Jr.

The LA Times follow up on the John Floyd Thomas arrest contains a summary paragraph that pretty much says it all:

DNA leads detectives to John Thomas Jr., 72. He is held in two slayings, but police suspect he may have killed up to 30 elderly Westside and Claremont women a decade apart.

The story also contains some interesting background including a tidbit about Thomas’ job as an insurance adjuster in Glendale:

Thomas had been working as an adjuster handling workers’ compensation claims since 1989 — the year the killings stopped. He resigned after his arrest March 31.

Jennifer Vargen, a spokeswoman for the State Compensation Insurance Fund, would not comment on whether the employer was aware of Thomas’ criminal record, saying it was a personnel matter.

Co-workers at his office in Glendale described Thomas as quiet but friendly. They said his job mostly involved paperwork.

His steady employment masked a troubled past.

Thomas was born in Los Angeles. His mother died when he was 12 and he was raised by his aunt and a godmother. Thomas attended public schools, including Manual Arts Senior High School.

He briefly joined the U.S. Air Force in 1956. At Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, a superior described Thomas as often late and slovenly. He received a dishonorable discharge, according to his military records, and was arrested for burglary and attempted rape in Los Angeles. He was convicted and sentenced to six years in state prison in 1957. Two parole violations sent him back behind bars until 1966.


Meanwhile Pasadena Police are cracking what cold case files they may have left, according PD spokeswoman Janet Pope Givens:

Since Thomas had a prior arrest in Pasadena, detectives are looking into whether any unsolved cases may fit the same description.


“The cold case unit is taking a look at it in terms of some of the other unsolved homicides that may have taken place prior to and after, to see if there is any relation,” said Police Department Spokesperson Janet Pope Givens.


Specifically, they are looking into cases involving women who were killed around that time period.


Thomas was originally arrested in Pasadena in 1978 on suspicion of rape, but was convicted of lesser charges, she said.


The file on his arrest, which is more than 30 years old, is no longer available, she said.

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.