Wednesday, December 12, 2007

How luck led investigators to serial killer

How luck led investigators to serial killer

By Christine Byers

Five women, all murdered more than 25 years ago. A sixth who was raped. Four suspects that led nowhere. And a DNA sample not good enough to match anyone in a database of prisoners.

Cape Girardeau Detective Jimmy Smith was at a dead end, his cold cases falling in a deep freeze.

About 45 miles away in Carbondale, Lt. Paul Echols was celebrating, having just linked Timothy Krajcir to the murder of Deborah Sheppard, a 23-year-old college student who was strangled in 1982.

Echols had no idea that the case he just closed had more twists and turns ahead. Nor did he have any idea that he was on the path of a serial killer.

Solving the Sheppard killing was making big news back in August, and Smith was captivated when he saw the mug shot of the 63-year-old suspect as it flashed across his television screen. Sheppard's hands were tied behind her back, the report said, jogging Smith's memory of an unsolved rape case he had been reviewing in the past six months.

The next morning, at 7:15 Aug. 31, Smith called Echols — the date and time courtesy of Echols' journal...

...complete article


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