SAN LUIS OBISPO — Rex Allen Krebs, identified as the prime suspect in the disappearances and deaths of two college students, says he's a monster and deserves to die.
Yet he certainly kept that dark side from his girlfriend, co-workers and others who met him in this close-knit university town on California's lower central coast.
Jailed late last month on unrelated parole violations, Krebs has been linked by police to the deaths of Rachel Newhouse of Irvine and Aundria Crawford. Their bodies were pulled from his property Friday.
"The two girls are dead. If I'm not a monster, then what am I?" a tormented Krebs said Saturday in an interview with the Fresno Bee at the San Luis Obispo County Jail.
He also apologized to the parents of the two women and told the newspaper he hopes to receive the death penalty. "I hope they give it to me," he said.
Crawford, 20, a Cuesta College sophomore, was kidnapped March 12 from her duplex near downtown. Newhouse, 20, a junior at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, was assaulted Nov. 12 as she walked home from a party at a local bar. Her blood was found on the nearby Jennifer Street Bridge.
Police have been tight-lipped about details of the investigation, including what led them to Krebs and how he might have known the victims.
Krebs, a 33-year-old registered sex offender, has not been charged with any crimes related to the cases of the dead women. Instead, he has been in custody since March 20 on possession of a simulated weapon and alcohol--both parole violations. Police say murder charges are imminent.
"I don't have to rush out and arrest him. He's already in jail," Capt. Bart Topham said Saturday.
Until he was named the "sole suspect," Krebs certainly didn't come across as someone who was hiding a criminal past.
He moved to the community eight months ago, not long after serving 10 years in a state prison for rape, sodomy, assault and three burglaries. Krebs was living in a home in Davis Canyon, a remote area behind Avila Beach.
He was employed full time at an 84 Lumber store and socialized with co-workers at a couple of local watering holes.
After work, he often sat on a tavern patio with his pit bull, Buddy. Sometimes his 23-year-old girlfriend--who Krebs said was pregnant with his child--came along too.
Eric Wilkins, a 22-year-old Cal Poly student who lives near the tavern, said he often saw Krebs there, especially Tuesday nights, when beers are 25 cents. "He seemed like a nice guy," he said.
Maggie Romweber, a 23-year-old Cal Poly senior, remembers seeing Krebs in town. Like many residents, Romweber found it disturbing that the prime suspect could live in the community without raising much suspicion.
Krebs moved to Davis Canyon from Atascadero, just 15 miles north of San Luis Obispo. He moved out after residents circulated letters revealing that he was a convicted sexual predator.
Most neighbors forgot Krebs until the FBI started interviewing them on April 5 about his activities there. They also seemed interested in talking to teenage girls, said Tami Sarvis, who had lived across the street from Krebs.
"They showed me pictures of him. . . . They asked if I had ever had a problem with him," said Sarvis' 13-year-old daughter, who asked not to be identified.
Bobbi Cole, 37, started a campaign to get rid of Krebs after receiving a tip from a friend that there might be a rapist in the neighborhood. "I went to the Atascadero Police Department and looked it up under Megan's Law," Cole said, referring to state law allowing the public access to the registry of sex offenders.
Diane Morgan, 51, quickly put out a letter with Krebs' picture to all the neighbors.
"I'm so happy that we got rid of him," Morgan said. "But I'm honestly physically sick over what has happened. I feel . . . we didn't do enough. We should have tried to figure out where he moved. When Rachel Newhouse was kidnapped, I couldn't help wonder if it was Rex. We all wondered about it."
Shelly Dye, 31, remembered how after the FBI went through the neighborhood, Krebs' girlfriend went to residents saying he needed a character reference to get out of jail on his parole violation.
"It was so strange," Dye said. "She went around to all of us saying she didn't want to raise her baby alone. When she came here, I told her she was nuts. I said, 'Give that baby half a chance and raise it yourself.' "
Krebs' girlfriend, though, was apparently not aware of his alleged involvement with the disappearances of Crawford and Newhouse.
"Leave her out of this," Krebs told The Bee. "She doesn't know anything."