John Floyd Thomas Jr. – Repeat Sex Offender – Southland Strangler

Thomas served a six-year jail sentence for a 1957 burglary and attempted rape in Los Angeles and was jailed again in 1978 for a rape in Pasadena. He was released in 1983.

Los Angeles cold case investigators arrested John Floyd Thomas Jr., who had been working as an insurance adjuster, on April 2. The Los Angeles Police Department says they have “yet to reach the depths of what he has done,” but suspect that he is responsible for dozens of murders, mostly of elderly women, that were committed over a period of 20 years or more.

Nicknamed the “Southland Strangler” by the LAPD after the area of Los Angeles County where the murders took place, Thomas is suspected of about 30 murders and many more rapes. He is a registered sex offender, but was not arrested for any of the murders or rapes blamed on the “Westside Rapist” in the 1970s because “detectives did not have the technology to identify him as a suspect.”

Thomas served a six-year jail sentence for a 1957 burglary and attempted rape in Los Angeles and was jailed again in 1978 for a rape in Pasadena. He was released in 1983.

Deputy Chief Charlie Beck said that the case owes its leads to “tenacity and science.” According to LAPD Detective Richard Bengstan, until recently, Thomas “had never come up on the radar at all.”

A 2004 California law “calls for officials to collect DNA samples from convicted sex offenders.” Thomas reported to a patrol station in October 2008 to have the inside of his cheek swabbed. His DNA was found to match evidence from the 1972 murder of 68-year-old Ethel Sokoloff and the 1976 murder of 67-year-old Elizabeth McKeown. Both were killed by the same person, according to DNA analysis, and since then, other victims have also been linked to the same killer.

Profiles of the victims (mostly white elderly women), the proximity of Thomas’ homes to those of the murder victims and Thomas’ criminal record are all helping make the case that he fits the profile of the “Westside Rapist.”

“The pattern is perfect,” Bengtsan told The New York Times. “He moves, and there are murders and rapes there. Then he moves again, and they stop there and start where he moved to. When he’s in prison, they stop.”

“25% of all sex offenders re-offend within 15 years”
………Sarah Tofte

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