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L.A.'s Largest Serial Killer Suspect Found After 30 Years

By Carol Forsloff     May 1, 2009 in Crime
The Los Angeles police department using DNA evidence has tied a 72-year old man to two waves of serial killing. Police suspect John Thomas of killing two women and maybe 30 more over a period of 50 years.
A wave of killings in the 1970s terrorized women. Mostly middle aged and older women who lived alone were raped and strangled. The killer placed blankets and pillows over the 17 who were killed. A decade later five older women were killed in much the same way, again with pillows and blankets placed over their faces.
20 victims had escaped being killed but had been attacked, still their evidence was conflicting. Not until DNA evidence was found and examined was a tie established to a potential killer.
John Floyd Thomas Jr., a 72-year-old state insurance claims adjuster, had previously been convicted of sexual assault has been linked to five slayings and a suspect in 25 more. These include Ethel Sokoloff 68 and Elizabeth McKeown, 67. who twice has been convicted of sexual assault, to five of the slayings where specific DNA evidence has been determined. LAPD Robbery-Homicide Detective Richard Bengston declared, "When all is said and done, Mr. Thomas stands to be Los Angeles' most prolific serial killer.
Thomas was found in his apartment last month and arrested in connection with McKeown and Sokoloff, both of whom had been murdered in the 1970's. Other DNA evidence was found in connection with a total of five killings.
Thomas had been working as an insurance claims adjuster since 1989, the time the killings had stopped.
The alleged killer had convictions in the 1950's for burglary and attempted rape in the Los Angeles area, for which he spent most of his life on and off due to parole violations until his release in 1966.
According to experts, serial killers have a special personality profile. Most of them are Caucasians between 25 and 35 years of age with high IQs who although very bright didn’t perform well in school, have trouble holding a job and have difficulties in the social environment. This description is true of 95% of serial killers. The fact that Thomas doesn't fit this profile is perhaps why he was difficult to catch.
One dominant characteristic of the serial killer in this case may relate to the typical case profile. Serial killers tend to pick vulnerable victims, which was the case of the older women who were killed and strangled in the serial killings Thomas is allegedly to have committed. Further the need for power and domination figures strongly in this type of killing. The fact that Thomas may have ended his crime spree in 1989 may mean that he had a job where he had some power or satisfaction or that he had no drive for power derived from killing at the time experts have said.
In the meantime police will continue to assess evidence to determine the reliability of any other information associated with Thomas case before proceeding to indict and move forward to trial.
More about Serial killer, Crime spree, Dna evidence
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