California parole officials have launched an internal inquiry into how closely state agents supervised two sex offenders who allegedly killed four women, and possibly a fifth, while being tracked with GPS.
However, a state Senate leader has yet to request the independent investigation he said he would seek a month ago, and federal court officials who also supervised the alleged killers and tracked the movements of one of them have refused to discuss their accountability.
“I don’t understand how they could go for months without being caught or being under suspicion,” said Jesse Fisher, the boyfriend of Martha Anaya, a 28-year-old Orange County woman who allegedly was the accused serial killers’ third victim. Fisher said the possibility that two felons killed four or more women while supposedly under close supervision deserves scrutiny.
“When two guys are like that together, shouldn’t alarms be ringing?”
Orange County transients Steve Gordon and Franc Cano, both convicted of sex offenses, were under dual state and federal supervision and wearing state-issued electronic monitors in 2013 when they allegedly killed their first two victims, women who frequented a tough area of Santa Ana known for prostitution.
Cano remained on state monitoring but Gordon had recently finished parole and was put on federal GPS monitoring on Nov. 12, 2013, on the same day that prosecutors believe Anaya was raped and killed. Gordon objected to the close supervision in a federal court hearing that day.
“Two days I've been without the monitor, and I showed up in your courtroom to show you guys that I am here to do what I am supposed to do, two days that I could have went and done anything,” Gordon told a federal judge, according to a transcript of the hearing.
The nude body of a fourth victim, Jarrae Estepp, was found March 14 on the conveyor belt of an Anaheim trash facility, not far from the commercial dumpster where the men allegedly tried to hide her body, and just blocks from the state parole office where Cano reported to his agent, and that Gordon once gave as his mailing address.
Anaheim police say they believe there was a fifth victim and are trying to identify her. So far, only Estepp’s body has been recovered.
California had vowed in recent years to beef up supervision of sex offenders after a string of embarrassing cases, including the revelation that first federal and then state parole agents for 18 years failed to realize Oakland sex offender Phillip Garrido had kidnapped a girl and was holding her hostage in his backyard.
State corrections department spokeswoman Deborah Hoffman said a parole administrator from outside the Southern California region is conducting a “thorough case management review” into Gordon and Cano’s supervision, “as with any high-profile case like this.”
The department has refused to release its supervision files for Cano and Gordon, including parole records that are public by law, in part citing the internal investigation.
Shortly after Cano and Gordon were arrested in April, Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said he would seek an independent investigation by the Office of Inspector General. Steinberg’s staff this week said the request -- to also cover broader issues of how all sex offenders are supervised -- was not finished but would be ready soon. A spokesman for the Office of Inspector General said the agency had no authority to act on its own.
Federal court officials in Los Angeles refused to discuss their supervision of Cano and Gordon, or whether the probation department’s role in the deaths will be investigated. Both men were placed on federal probation after they cut their state-issued GPS monitors in 2012 and fled to Las Vegas.
“We do not respond to the media,” said Douglas Bys, chief deputy for probation, as he walked out of the federal courthouse recently, a bullet-proof vest over his arm.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times