San Bernardino police arrested a neighborhood handyman in connection with the violent, home-invasion slaying of a 76-year-old woman in November, authorities said Monday, adding that the suspect could also possibly be linked to two other elderly women who were killed while alone in their homes.
Jerome Anthony Rogers, a 58-year-old registered sex offender, was arrested on suspicion of murder for the slaying of Mary Beth Blaskey on Nov. 14. Blaskey’s son found his mother dead, and her home ransacked, when he dropped by to take her to a doctor’s appointment.
Police Chief Rob Handy said DNA found at the murder scene matched a sample from Rogers, who was among 30 suspects being investigated for the killings. Handy stopped short of saying Rogers was a suspect in the other two slayings, but acknowledged that investigators believe the killings are all linked.
“We’re not done. We’re far from done,’’ Handy told reporters during a morning news conference. “We believe he may be linked to other crimes in the city.’’
Handy said detectives also believe there may be one or more accomplices involved in the attacks, and from the outset were focused on “burglary crews” because the killings occurred during brazen, daytime home invasions.
All three slain women lived in the quiet, northern neighborhoods of the city. Wanda Paulin, 86, was killed in December 2010, and Josephine Kelley, 90, was killed in September 2005. At least one of the victims was sexually assaulted. Handy declined to provide additional details because the investigation is ongoing.
Handy said Rogers worked as a handyman in that part of the city, walking door to door and offering to do odd jobs. Rogers was a transient who bounced between the homes of relatives and friends, he said.
On Friday, San Bernardino investigators received notice that DNA recovered at Blaskey’s house was a match to the DNA profile of Rogers, which had been entered into the state Department of Justice DNA database because of his sexual assault conviction. Rogers is listed as a registered sex offender on the state’s Megan’s Law database for sodomizing a child under 14 years old.
Rogers denied being involved in any of the crimes, Handy said. San Bernardino detectives executed search warrants on four homes Rogers was known to frequent and recovered property belonging to Blaskey at at least one location, Handy said.
Relatives of all three victims attended Monday’s news conference, saying they were encouraged that progress has been made in the cases.
“We’re still hoping that our case will be solved, but it’s encouraging that one of the cases was brought forward like this,’’ said Phillip Kelley, the son of Josephine Kelley. “I was kind of losing hope before this. It didn’t seem like anything was getting done.’’
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