November 5, 1966 |
|Victims||11 (convicted), on trial for 4 others|
Span of killings
Chester Dewayne Turner (born November 5, 1966 in Warren, Arkansas) is a convicted serial killer. On April 30, 2007, he was convicted of the murders of 10 women in Los Angeles, and was also found guilty in the death of the unborn child of one of his victims. Prosecutors have called Turner "one of the most prolific serial killers in the city’s history". On July 10, 2007, Turner was sentenced to death.
Turner moved to Los Angeles with his mother when he was five years old, after his parents separated. He attended public schools in Los Angeles but dropped out of high school. Working for Domino's Pizza as a cook and delivery person as a young man, he lived with his mother until she moved to Utah. After that, he moved around to different homeless shelters and missions.
Turner has been convicted of 11 murders that occurred in Los Angeles between 1987 and 1998. The first nine of these murders took place in a four-block-wide corridor that ran on either side of Figueroa Street between Gage Avenue and 108th Street:
- Diane Johnson, 21, found partially nude and strangled in March 1987 in a roadway construction area west of the Harbor Freeway.
- Annette Ernest, 26, found lying on a shoulder of a road in October 1987, partially nude and strangled.
- Anita Fishman, 31, strangled and left partially nude outside a garage in an alley off Figueroa Street in January 1989.
- Regina Washington, 27, also found partially nude and strangled inside a garage off Figueroa Street in September 1989. Washington was six months pregnant. The death of the fetus, referred to as Baby Washington, was attributed to the strangulation of the mother, and it was ruled a homicide.
- Andrea Tripplett, 29, strangled, found partially nude behind a vacant building on Figueroa Street in April 1993.
- Desarae Jones, 29, found strangled next to a vacant residence in May 1993.
- Natalie Price, 31, found partially nude and strangled next to a vacant residence in February 1995.
- Mildred Beasley, 45, found partially nude and strangled; she was left amongst the bushes alongside the 110 Fwy in November 1996.
The last two murders occurred outside of this corridor in Los Angeles County:
- Paula Vance, 24, found in the business, Olympia Tool, in Azusa in February 1998.
- Brenda Bries, 39, found strangled in a portable toilet near Little Tokyo in April 1998.
The Vance murder was witnessed by a bystander at a neighboring trailer park. Turner was jailed seven times from 1995 to 2002, six for nonviolent offenses and once for an assault charge on an officer and cruelty to an animal on April 9, 1997. In March 2002 Turner sexually assaulted a 47-year-old woman for approximately two hours and threatened to kill her if she told the police. He was convicted and sentenced to eight years at a California state prison. Turner was required to give a DNA sample to California’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). In September 2003, based on that sample, Turner was identified as a match for DNA recovered from Vance and Beasley. Detectives then began a careful examination of Turner’s background. Nine of the 11 unsolved murders were matched to Turner using DNA evidence.
Suspicions in additional murders
Wrong man convicted
During the investigation of these cases, detectives also reviewed similar solved cases. In doing so, the detectives found that David Allen Jones, 28, had been convicted of three murders that occurred in the same area where Turner was known to be operating, including Tammie Christmas, found strangled in September 1992 at the 97th Street Elementary School. Jones, a mentally disabled part-time janitor who was barely literate, was questioned without an attorney and admitted using drugs with the victims in the areas where their bodies were found.
Rather than using these convictions as a basis for excluding Turner, the detectives revisited these “solved” murders and re-evaluated the physical evidence. The detectives found that Jones’ 1995 trial had relied upon other evidence, including Jones’ coerced statements to police, instead of DNA technology. At the detectives’ request, the LAPD Crime Laboratory processed the available evidence using the latest DNA applications. Although DNA analysis could not be used to reinvestigate the Christmas murder, prosecutors and police are confident that Jones is innocent of the Christmas murder and that Turner is the likely culprit.
During his trial, Jones had also been convicted of a rape unrelated to the murders. He had served out his sentence for the 2000 rape conviction. The new investigation revealed that the blood typing evidence did not match the blood types found at the crimes for which he spent 11 years in prison, and he was exonerated as a murderer. Jones was released from prison in March 2004, and has filed a lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles (LA). Jones was awarded $720,000 in compensation
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