SANTA ANA, Calif. - Two parolees raped and killed four women while wearing GPS trackers, and there may be more victims, a California police chief said.
Registered sex offenders Franc Cano, 27, and Steven Dean Gordon, 45, were both wearing ankle bracelets when the female victims were assaulted and killed last fall and earlier this year, Anaheim police Chief Raul Quezada said Monday at a news conference. The suspects were arrested on Friday and are each facing four felony counts of special circumstances murder and four felony counts of rape, reports CBS Los Angeles.
The naked body of Jarrae Nykkole Estepp, 21, was found March 14 on a conveyor belt at an Anaheim trash-sorting plant. Quezada said it was the key to breaking the case, according to CBS Los Angeles. The probe led detectives to connect the two suspects to her slaying, and the disappearance of three women - Josephine Vargas, 34; Kianna Jackson, 20; and Martha Anaya, 28 - who frequented a Santa Ana neighborhood known for drug dealing and prostitution.
The Orange County Register reports that Cano and Gordon were convicted of lewd and lascivious acts on children under 14 years old. As a requirement of the convictions, both were required to wear GPS tracking bracelets.
Authorities at the news conference did not explain how Cano and Gordon allegedly managed to carry out the killings while under GPS supervision, but Quezada said data from the devices "was one of the investigative tools we used to put the case together."
Anaheim police Lt. Bob Dunn earlier said the two were complying with a requirement to check in monthly with authorities and police had no reason to watch them more closely and hadn't received any such request from other agencies.
Police at first didn't link the disappearances of the four women to the suspects, considering the women missing persons rather than murder victims.
"These individuals were not on our radar whatsoever," Santa Ana Police Chief Carlos Rojas said. "Our three missing in Santa Ana just completely went off the grid and we were trying to follow up as much as we could."
Santa Ana police searched a canyon, examined the women's cellphone records, alerted hospitals, put the word out on social media and even checked motels they were known to frequent but without success in finding them.
"[The police] put a stop to a serial killing that would likely have continued beyond this point," District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said at the news conference. Authorities said they believe there was at least a fifth victim.
Those with additional information are encouraged to call Orange County Crime Stoppers at (855) TIP-OCCS.