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Los Angeles serial killer convicted of three more slayings

Michael Hughes was convicted in 1998 of killing four women; on Thursday, he was found guilty of three more slayings in the Los Angeles area in the 1980s and '90s.

November 04, 2011|By Andrew Blankstein, Los Angeles Times

A former security guard convicted over a decade ago of multiple murders was found guilty by a jury Thursday of three additional slayings.

In 1998, Michael Hughes was convicted of killing four women, three of whom were choked to death and dumped in alleys in a commercial area of Culver City. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Los Angeles Police Department cold-case homicide detectives later linked Hughes to the strangulation slayings of four more victims, ages 15 to 36, through DNA evidence. He was convicted Thursday in three of those cases: the deaths of Yvonne Coleman, 15; Verna Patricia Williams, 36; and Deborah Jackson, 32.

The killings came in an era when authorities say that at least five serial killers, and possibly more, were active in the South Los Angeles area. During the 1980s and early 1990s, these killers targeted mostly young African American women, dumping their bodies in alleys, vacant buildings or parks.

At the time, the eight killings were footnotes in an era of unprecedented violence in Los Angeles that began in the 1980s. By the early 1990s, the number of homicides soared to more than 1,000 annually.

Authorities have long suspected that Hughes was linked to killings beyond Los Angeles because of his frequent movements. He lived in Long Beach, San Diego and Michigan.

The body of Coleman, a student at Morningside High School in Inglewood, was found in one of the city's parks in January 1986. Four months later, the body of Williams was discovered at 68th Street School in South L.A. by students. Jackson, who was found near a trash container outside a paint store in the Mid-City area of Los Angeles, died in 1992.

The penalty phase of the capital murder trial begins Monday.

andrew.blankstein@latimes.com

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