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ID’d in Cold Case DNA Project, Man, 74, Pleads Guilty in 7 Murders, Suspected in Up to 23 More

Posted Apr 1, 2011 2:54 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Billed as one of the most prolific serial killers in Southern California, a soft-spoken former insurance adjuster has pleaded guilty today in seven sex-related strangulation slayings of older women in Los Angeles county. He is suspected in as many as 23 more similar murders, which took place in two waves centered on the 1970s and 1980s.

John Floyd Thomas Jr., 74, was identified almost by accident as the alleged Westside Rapist, when a DNA testing project focused on a different serial killer matched him to the first of multiple homicides, reports the L.A. Now blog of the Los Angeles Times.

Even after the Los Angeles Police Department established the Cold Case Homicide Unit in 2001, it took about three more years to match unknown male DNA from two victims. Then, in 2008, officers collected Thomas' DNA when investigating the unrelated so-called Grim Sleeper killings. In March 2009, a match was made to a victim in a different set of murders, setting in motion events that led to Thomas' arrest.

The article doesn't explain what prompted Thomas to plead guilty or say when he will be sentenced.

Additional and related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "LA Insurance Adjuster a Suspect in Dozens of Murders Dating to 1970s"

ABAJournal.com: "Suspected Serial Killer Charged in Only 2 Murders Due to Damaged DNA"

ABAJournal.com: "Son’s DNA & Discarded Pizza Slice ID Suspect in 10 ‘Grim Sleeper’ Murders Over 25 Years"

ABAJournal.com: "Authorities Missed Earlier Chance to ID Suspect in ‘Grim Sleeper’ Killings"

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