innocence blog

A Web log for the Innocence Institute of Point Park University

Friday, June 09, 2006

DNA May Be Clue in 10 Old Killings

By Ashraf Khalil, Times Staff WriterJune 9, 2006

Inglewood police said Thursday they were awaiting the results of a DNA sample taken from a 65-year-old man being held in state prison to determine whether he might have a connection to 10 unsolved slayings that occurred over the last two decades.

Detectives stressed that they have not conclusively linked the killings to one assailant but said they found enough similarities in the crimes to ask a judge for a DNA sample from Roger Hausmann, currently behind bars in Fresno while awaiting trial in a kidnapping case.

The judge agreed to the request, and Inglewood Police Det. Jeffrey Steinhoff recently traveled to Fresno to take a sample of Hausmann's saliva. The 10 cases that detectives are focusing on mostly involved women — including several prostitutes — whose bodies were found in Inglewood and surrounding communities such as South Los Angeles.

The possible link in the cases was first reported by the L.A. Weekly.Steinhoff said in an interview Thursday that he was investigating the cold case of a 14-year-old girl who was raped and killed in March 2002 when he discovered that DNA found on her body matched that on the bodies of three other homicide victims.

Two of those victims were shot with a handgun linked to six other area killings, he said.The department hopes to know in coming weeks whether the DNA found on the girl matches the sample taken from Hausmann."It will all come down to the DNA," said Steinhoff, who is working with the Los Angeles Police Department's cold case unit. "We're all waiting for the same thing."

Hausmann's name entered the investigation after Fresno County officials alerted L.A. authorities last year. Hausmann, the Fresno officials said, "made comments that when he was in Los Angeles, he had killed a number of prostitutes," said Capt. Ed Winter of the L.A. County coroner's serial homicide team. Detectives said they were still trying to fit together the pieces of the cases and were not certain how many of the killings were related.

Steinhoff said that if Hausmann's DNA is not a match, he will be eliminated as a suspect but that detectives will continue to look into possible links among the killings.The case comes two years after another in which the LAPD charged a man in the deaths of 10 women whose cases had remained unsolved for years.

Police have accused Chester D. Turner of killing the women — and a victim's fetus — during an 11-year rampage that began in 1987. He has pleaded not guilty.Turner is serving an eight-year prison sentence in a rape case. Genetic testing conducted after that conviction tied him to sperm cell matter found on the bodies of the 10 women, according to an analyst with the LAPD's Scientific Investigations Division.

Turner's DNA was also allegedly linked to two other killings that were wrongly blamed on David Allen Jones, who was released from prison in March because of wrongful convictions. Turner has not been charged in those killings.Hausmann, who could not be reached for comment, is expected to go on trial Monday.

The former repossessor is charged with kidnapping, false imprisonment and criminal threats in connection with an abduction involving two women, said Bob Ellis, an assistant district attorney in Fresno County.Inglewood detectives said they couldn't be sure when the DNA test would come back.

The speed of the testing process depends on the lab's caseload.Testing related to a current trial or active investigation "will take precedence over a cold case," Steinhoff said. "After all, the guy isn't going anywhere. He's already in prison."

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