HOUSTON (CBS/KHOU) Police requested the help of the public Monday as they investigate whether the strangulation murders of three women in and around downtown Houston are related.
Authorities say two recent cases involved homeless women whose bodies were found a few blocks apart, not far from Houston police headquarters.
The beaten and strangled body of Caroline Elaine Flood, 62, was found nude from the waist down on Oct. 10 in a stairwell outside an old YMCA building in downtown Houston. Police say she was homeless and living on the streets.
Investigators believe Flood was last seen at a local theater the day before and said she watched three movies before leaving around 9:30 p.m., reports CBS affiliate KHOU. According to the manager Flood was a regular.
Another homeless victim, 52-year-old Retia Long, was found dead Sept. 30. According to medical examiners Long was strangled with a ligature.
Authorities also investigating the murder of 24-year-old Raquel Mundy, who was found strangled to death June 18 by a homeless man on an overgrown lot just outside downtown Houston. She was last seen the day before dropping her mother and two children off at a Greyhound bus station, according to investigators.
Mundy's car had apparently been towed from a McDonald's parking lot across the street from the station, which left her stranded.
On Monday police said they could not confirm earlier reports from the time of Mundy's disappearance that her mother received two text messages from her suggesting she was with a Hispanic man and in danger.
Investigators are still waiting for DNA evidence to provide a concrete link in the cases, but they say there are enough similarities for them to take a closer look, reports KHOU.
"And that's why we're asking the public. Maybe they know something. Maybe they saw something that can help us solve these cases," said Homicide Lt. Humberto Lopez.
Lopez said five detectives are assigned to the slayings and that the FBI is being consulted on a weekly basis.
He said the investigation, particularly of the two most recent slayings, was difficult because a homeless person's lifestyle is generally unknown and they don't talk to people. According to Lopez, operators of homeless shelters in the Houston area have been advised to inform their visitors about the murders and suggest that women in particular not sleep alone on the streets.
Police are asking anyone with information on the three cases to contact HPD Homicide at 713-308-3600 or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS. Police are offering rewards totaling $15,000 for information leading to an arrest.