Homicide detectives said Monday they are looking for a man they believe may have killed at least 10 prostitutes whose bodies have been found dumped in alleys and on streets in the Los Angeles area during the last year.
"There's enough similarity in what we're finding to link them together," Lt. Ed Henderson, acting commanding officer of the Los Angeles Police Department's Robbery-Homicide Division, said.
Most victims, Henderson told a Parker Center news conference, had been both strangled and stabbed. All of them, he added, had prostitution arrest records and apparently were picked up by car while streetwalking, killed at other locations and then driven to where they were found. Detectives do not know where the killings took place, the lieutenant said.
Henderson said seven of the bodies were found in South-Central Los Angeles, two in Inglewood and another in Gardena. The police departments in the three cities are cooperating in the investigation, he said.
Henderson refused to comment on whether the killings were extraordinarily brutal, observing only, "You might say it's an overkill type of situation." He also declined to indicate whether the killer has left a characteristic mark. Only two victims, he said, were strangled without being stabbed. None had been shot.
Asked what sort of instrument had been used to stab the women, Henderson said, "We don't know."
He said none of the women was fully clothed. All were found in varying states of undress. Their ages ranged from 22 to 34.
The first apparent victim in the series was identified as Sheila Burris, who was found dead in the 9800 block of Grandee Avenue in the Watts area last Nov. 18. The most recent was Gail Ficklin, whose body was discovered in nearly the same location on Aug. 15.
The other Los Angeles victims identified by Henderson were:
Frankie Bell, whose body was found in the 10400 block of South Olive Street last New Year's Day; Patricia Dennis, found in the 3500 block of 8th Avenue on Feb. 11; Lilian Stoval, found in the 2200 block of 6th Avenue on March 23; Patsy Webb, found in the 4700 block of South Broadway, April 15, and Cathy Gystaveson, found in the 1600 block of Slauson Avenue on July 28.
He did not identify the victims found in Gardena and Inglewood.
Two other women were assaulted but survived, Henderson said. He said one has been in a coma for several months and the other, who managed to escape from her assailant's car on Aug. 6, furnished a description for a composite sketch, which was released Monday.
Henderson said police also have another witness, but said she was not a victim. He would not elaborate.
The killer was described as black, dark-complexioned, 30 to 35 years old and 5 feet 10 inches to 6 feet tall. He was said to have black hair, brown eyes, smooth skin, a medium build, muscular arms and chest, a small mustache and straight, white teeth.
In at least one assault, Henderson said, the attacker was wearing a baseball cap bearing the name FILA, a clothing manufacturer. He was driving a 1984 or 1985 dark-colored Buick Regal with a baby seat in the rear. A possible second vehicle was described as a 1960 to 1969 Ford pickup truck with gray primer paint.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the LAPD Robbery-Homicide Division, (213) 485-2531, or (213) 485-2504 evenings and weekends.
"What we need now," Henderson said, "is some help from the public in possibly identifying this individual."