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Suspected Serial Killer Charged In 3 Rapes, Murders

Updated 04/20/11 - 4:47 p.m.

MARKHAM, Ill. (CBS) -- A Blue Island man has been charged in the rapes and murders of three young women in 2009 and 2010 and authorities believe he might be a serial killer responsible for other potential victims.

Sonny Pierce, who was already in jail for the rape of a 15-year-old girl, was ordered held without bond at a hearing at the Markham Courthouse on Wednesday.

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Pierce has been charged with three counts of first degree murder in the deaths of Kiara Windom, 18, of Harvey; Kimika Coleman, 18, of Chicago; and Mariah Edwards, 17, of Blue Island, according to Cook County prosecutors.

Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alavarez said authorities suspect there could be more victims.

"There appears to be somewhat of a pattern here," Alvarez said. "We're looking to see if there's anything else out there or anyone else out there that could possibly have been a victim."

Authorities said Windom and Coleman were both strangled about three weeks apart in August of 2009. Their bodies were discovered dumped in alleys in Blue Island and Chicago.

Police also discovered a videotape linking Pierce to Edwards' murder in July 2010.

"In a very disturbing and chilling discovery, police investigating the murder cases recovered a videotape made by Pierce that pictures him engaged in violent sexual relations with Edwards," Alvarez said. "This 17-year-old girl appears to be lifeless and we believe that she was, in fact, deceased when the video was taken."

Edwards' body has not been recovered, but she was reported missing and hasn't been seen alive since July 2010.

In Edwards' case, Pierce told police he invited Edwards to his home to rape her in front of other men, then beat her with the men until she was dead, prosecutors said. He has refused to tell police where her remains are, they said.

Edwards lived in an apartment complex across the street from Pierce's building, according to her brother, Tony Edwards, 35, of Chicago's Roseland neighborhood.

Tony Edwards said his 18-year-old sister was an aspiring rapper who was "real playful" and liked to dress up. She also liked to cook — fried chicken, BLTs and club sandwiches were her specialty.

Edwards said he served as a father figure, as well as an older brother, to his sister. She didn't have a job, but was looking, and Edwards said he liked to "put money in her pockets so she didn't have to do the wrong things."

"I miss her face, her smile, her laughter, her scent — the way she got on my nerves," Tony Edwards said. "She didn't deserve that no matter what she did in her life, she didn't deserve to get murdered, mistreated or bamboozled."

Police were able to tie Pierce to the other two victims using cell phone records and DNA evidence.

Orland Park Police Chief Tim McCarthy, head of the South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force, said Pierce met his victims on phone chatlines and would sexually assault them before killing them.

Investigators found 20 calls between Windom's cell phone and Pierce the night before her body was found, prosecutors said. He met her on a singles party line in August 2009, they said.

DNA evidence linked Pierce to Windom, and video evidence refuted his alibis for the times of the crime, McCarthy said.

As CBS 2's Jim Williams reports, two years after Windom was murdered, her mother Helena Johnson still has a shrine in the living room – a stuffed animal wrapped around Windom's photo.

"She always went to bed with it," Johnson said. She has suffered terribly in these two years, hospitalized several times for depression.

"I fell into depression, I lost my sleep, I take medicine to sleep," she said. "I stopped eating. I'm just not gaining weight. … It was terrible."

Despite the charges filed against Pierce, Johnson said she felt little relief.

She also had a warning for other parents.

"Be careful. Make sure that you watch your children; your girls, especially your daughters, every chance you get" she said. "If they on the phone, they on the chat lines, get them off the chat lines. The chat lines is not a joke. It's not a game. You never know who you will meet. Your child will come up missing like mine."

Pierce has been in jail since August 201 for the rape of a 15-year-old girl. Prosecutors said he lured the girl from her home into his car, drove her to his home, then dragged her into his home, where he choked her until she passed out, then raped her.

The girl survived and reported the rape to police, who arrested Pierce shortly afterward, according to prosecutors.

Pierce's neighbors said they can't believe there are three murder charges against a man who hosted barbecues for people on the block.

"He's a nice person, though. I don't think he's the kind of guy that would do something like that," one neighbor who identified himself only as "Bergman" said.

Authorities said they want to hear from any potential victims who might have had contact with Pierce or from any families who believes a loved one might have been a victim. Blue Island Police have set up a hotline for information at 708-396-7020.

(The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.)

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