Posted Apr 30, 2009 11:28 pm CDT
A 72-year-old California insurance adjuster was charged earlier this month with murdering two elderly women in the 1970s.
But authorities say he is a suspect in as many as 28 more. They say John Floyd Thomas Jr. is tied by DNA evidence to a few victims in two separate waves of rapes and murders of elderly women that terrorized the Los Angeles and Claremont, Calif., communities in the 1970s and the 1980s, as woman after woman was found dead with her face covered, reports the Los Angeles Times.
In Los Angeles, the murders at issue were attributed to the so-called Westside Rapist. After 1989, it appears that no further related murders occurred, the Times reports.
Thomas apparently was never pursued as a suspect in any of the cases now thought to be possibly related, until DNA testing allegedly matched him to five slayings, according to what Detective Richard Bengston of the Los Angeles Police Department tells the newspaper. In late 2001, the department began a DNA test project concerning cold cases dating back to 1960.
As far back as 2004, some of the murders were linked to the same unknown suspect. But it wasn’t until March of this year that Thomas was accused of committing any of them, after his DNA was tested because he is a convicted sex offender, the Times reports.
“When all is said and done, Mr. Thomas stands to be Los Angeles’ most prolific serial killer,” says Bengston, who works in the LAPD’s robbery and homicide cold case division.
Thomas, who is being held at the Los Angeles County Jail, couldn’t be reached for comment, the newspaper writes.