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Serial Killer Suspected in Knife Assault

January 11, 1986|JACK JONES | Times Staff Writer

A downtown Los Angeles streetwalker fought off a knife assault by a customer with the help of a male friend early Friday, police said, apparently becoming only the third woman to survive a meeting with the man believed to have brutally killed at least 15 prostitutes.

Both the 27-year-old woman and the friend who came to her aid were hospitalized with knife wounds. The attacker, whose description roughly matches that given by the two earlier victims who escaped, was last seen speeding away in a car.

Los Angeles Police Cmdr. William Booth said the woman got into the automobile about 2:30 a.m. near 7th Street and Stanford Avenue, an area frequented by prostitutes. Booth said the stranger drove her to a nearby location, where he "assaulted her in a vicious way."

The woman screamed and struggled, managing to escape with cuts as her friend interceded and was himself stabbed, Booth said.

The assailant was last seen driving east on 8th Street in what the victims described as a white, four-door Ford Grenada with a red interior. The vehicle also has possible accident damage.

Witnesses in past attacks--two of which involved women who also escaped--have described three different vehicles. One was a 1984 or 1985 dark-colored Buick Regal with a baby seat in the rear, a 1960-69 Ford pickup truck with gray primer paint and a 1984 Plymouth Reliant station wagon with a dark brown horizontal stripe.

The attacker in Friday's incident was described as black, 6-feet, 1-inch tall, weighing 165 pounds and 28 to 31 years old. He was wearing a blue jogging suit. The man being sought by police in the serial killings had earlier been described as 30 to 35 years old and 5-feet, 10-inches to 6-feet tall.

The injured woman helped a sheriff's artist draw a new sketch of the suspect. Booth noted that it was similar to one released by police last September.

Meanwhile, detectives assigned to a Los Angeles police-county sheriff's task force were waiting for today's autopsy before deciding whether Patricia L. Martin, 28, whose body was found Thursday afternoon in Jesse Owens Park at 9651 S. Western Ave., was another victim in the string of murders that began in September, 1983, and have occurred in South-Central Los Angeles or adjacent areas.

No Prostitution Record

Although all known victims of the serial killer had prostitution arrest records, Martin had none. She had been employed in the past as a hairdresser, Booth said. He added that until the autopsy is completed, officers cannot be certain how she died.

Most of the past victims have been both stabbed and strangled. Several appeared to have been tortured. Their bodies bore superficial knife cuts. All but two were black and most were nude or only partly clothed when their bodies were dumped in alleys or in darkened spots.

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