Homicide investigators are trying to find at least 50 women they have linked to a man who is in prison for killing two women in the early 1980s, officials said.
Detectives are investigating whether the women were raped or killed between and 1975 and 1984 by William Richard Bradford, said Los Angeles County sheriff's officials, who posted numbered photographs of the women on a department Web site in hope that the public could help account for them.
The Los Angeles Times reported that after Bradford, a photographer, was convicted in 1987 of murdering two aspiring models, may have made a taunting statement to jurors deciding whether he should be sentenced to death.
"Think of how many you don't even know about," Bradford said.
The photographs, some of them pornographic, were found in the mid-80s among the Bradford's possessions, CBS News correspondent Vince Gonzales reported.
One of the missing women has been identified as Donnalee Campbell Duhamel, 31, whose decapitated body was found in a Malibu canyon in 1978 a few days after meeting Bradford at a bar, said sheriff's Capt. Ray Peavy.
"What we have here is a very large group of pictures of women that we do not know for the most part who they are," Peavy said. "Some of these women we ... identified; several of them were his wives, ex-wives. But for the most part the majority of these folks we do not know who they are, who they were.
"Many of them could have likely been homicide victims themselves. Many of them may have just been women that he met in bars and took home and took photographs of."
Following a televised press conference in which the photos were shown, phone calls began pouring in from people claiming to be women in the photos or having information about them, said sheriff's Sgt. Alfredo Castro. Some of the women have called in to say they were safe, Gonzales reported.
"The phone hasn't stopped ringing," Castro said. "I'm pretty sure we're going to identify a lot of them soon."
Meanwhile, other local law enforcement agencies are also looking into possible connections to other homicide cases from 1975 and 1982.
In the first, the Santa Monica Police Department was investigating whether Bradford was involved in the slaying of Patricia Dulong, 33, last seen in Santa Monica. And the Los Angeles Police Department may have linked him to the death of 23-year-old Mischa Stewart, Peavy said.
In the 1970s and '80s, Bradford, now 60, posed as a freelance photographer in the West Los Angeles area, taking photos of women he met at bars and car races, according to information on the police department Web site.
The photographs and film were seized when search warrants were served on Bradford's home at the time of his arrest in 1984, Peavy said.
"Those items went into a case file. That case file, quite frankly nothing was really done with those photographs up until right now," Peavy said.
The case could lead outside California. Through the years, Bradford has spent time in Illinois, Texas, Florida, Michigan, Oregon and elsewhere.
"We could have victims theoretically all over the country," Peavy said.
Bradford was convicted in 1987 of first-degree murder in the stranglings of Shari Miller, 21, who he met in a bar, and Tracey Campbell, 15, a neighbor. Prosecutors said he lured them into accompanying him with promises to help their modeling careers.
Miller's body was found in a West Los Angeles parking lot in July 1984, while Tracey's decomposed body was found in August 1984 at a campsite 28 miles east of Lancaster, a high desert area north of Los Angeles.
In the penalty phase of his trial, Bradford asked the jury to sentence him to death: "Think of how many you don't even know about," he told jurors.
It was unclear whether Bradford was currently represented by an attorney. A message left with an attorney who represented him in the past, Robert R. Bryan, was not returned Tuesday.
When he wasn't taking pictures, Bradford was a handyman in a Mar Vista apartment complex, said sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore. Authorities said he also owned a motor home, rode a Harley Davidson motorcycle and hung out with a motorcycle gang.
Shortly after his arrest in the two killings in 1984, he pleaded no contest to an unrelated charge of forcible rape and was sentenced to eight years in state prison. He was previously arrested for burglary and sex crimes against one of his ex-wives, Peavy said.
Peavy said it's possible the remaining unidentified women were alive and well, though he wasn't hopeful.
"My gut instinct," he said, alluding to a collage of the women's photos at the sheriff's homicide office, "is that there are probably a substantial number of victims on that board."
The case had languished for for 22 years, the photos in a box collecting dust in a sheriff's evidence archive.
But last month, a cold case investigator rediscovered it and began sifting through its contents: about 50 images of young women, many of them scantily clad and striking poses like amateur models. The photographer, the detective knew, was on death row.